Visioning Workshop – February 22, 2020

I went to the facilities informational meeting at the high school this past Saturday.

On a guess, I would say there were between 100 to 125 people there. I felt there were a good number of people there that found out about the meeting from a flier given to them from a SK resident. My personal feeling is if the SC can pay for duplicate studies done, then they should have been able to send out notices in the mail to all SK taxpayers.

The meeting was planned for 2 hours but it went about 45 minutes longer. One hour was supposed to be a Q & A from a panel and the second hour was supposed to be breaking up into small groups. I believe these groups were to discuss different ideas for the existing HS building. That actually made me feel like this was a done deal, otherwise we would be talking pros and cons of moving the HS and keeping it in the same place. But I’m not positive that is what the small group intention was. Kaela Gray, the town planner saw that there were going to be many questions asked, so she asked who wanted just the Q & A part and not do the table talk. The majority of the participants wanted to continue with just the Q & A.

You can watch the meeting here.

There were roughly 15 people that asked questions. I quickly found out my shorthand skills while listing to Q & A were inadequate. I felt it more important to listen.

There were a couple of comments saying they had zero faith in the SC’s ability to handle this process/project. Some wanted answers to what is taking place and some with suggestions on the project itself. I think two people brought up about respecting the families’ wishes that donated the land to the town for their intended use. Town Manager Rob Zarnetske and the town solicitor both said the state legislators changed the rules in the 80’s saying after a set period trusts are null and void. To me, the flavor of the day was very few were on board with the proposed plan. Looking around the room, I saw people intently listening and taking notes which was great to see.

I had many questions but was only able to ask one because of the time. So I asked while looking at this facilities project did they take into account what each location would bring to the taxpayers. Both in the sale of the property, what type of development could take place and taxes generated from the development. The Town manager Rob said they had looked at that and felt CC may be the track of land which would give our taxpayers the biggest bang for the buck. He also said if we could find someone to do something with the present HS then that would also generate revenue.

One of the things bothering me is families gave us the properties with the understanding of doing certain things with it. Now I’m pretty sure the track of land that CCMS and SRES (which SK is no longer using) is owned free and clear by the town. None of it has deed restrictions. For me this is important because I value the wishes of the donors. I also understand with changing times does create changing circumstances. If our HS was in such poor shape and it had to be knocked down or relocated to Curtis Corner I would understand. Ironically the HS is in better shape than all the other schools but Matunuck Elementary.

There are certainly more questions that need to be answered before we vote on taking out a $85,000,000.00 loan for the facilities project. I can only hope there will be more of these meetings so maybe we can all get better educated with our choices.

Greg Sweet

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