Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hey Kids: No Pool For YOU!

Only in Amherst would Town Meeting vote to continue squandering ten$ of thousand$ of tax dollar$ on a Golf Course that attracts mostly white, middle-aged males from outside Amherst and then vote to kill the War Memorial Pool that, conversely, attracts mainly Amherst children--many low income and ethnically diverse.

And I do mean kill! Because if the War Memorial Pool does not open this summer for the first time in over 50 years, the infrastructure damage caused by deterioration of components requiring moving water could be fatal.

Last year Town Meeting, over the Finance Committee’s objection, supported privatizing Cherry Hill; last night Town Meeting overwhelming voted against essentially the same measure and this time it had the unanimous support of the Finance Committee.

Town Meeting is supposed to control the purse strings, but every year they pass a Cherry Hill budget built on wishful thinking and outright lies, requiring year-end infusions of copious amounts of cash.

Immediately before the Cherry Hill privatization debacle, Town Meeting voted to increase the Finance Committee’s Reserve Fund because the $50,000 emergency account was completely tapped out, with Cherry Hill budget overruns absorbing $16,500.

Last week the Town Manager told the Select board there was no money until July 1 for pothole maintenance because the DPW budget was depleted.

No money for potholes, no money for the War Memorial and kids wading pools, but endless amounts for golf.

Now I know my background music for the YouTube upload: “No it isn’t very pretty what a town without pity….cannnn doooo.”


chris said...

Yeah, too bad the override didn't pass then the pool would be open this summer.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, that’s one (expensive) way of looking at it. I suppose if we strike oil on the Town Common (as long as it doesn’t originate from Texas) we could open the pools as well.

Ironically, the travesty of the Town Manger turning down the 100-K over three years privatization of Cherry Hill instigated the formation of the ‘Amherst Taxpayers for Responsible Change’, who knocked down the Override.

And we were incensed at the rejection when we still believed the offer was only $5,000 and not the actual $30,000 to $35,000. Yikes!

Of course all I needed to do was read the RFP (makes me wonder if the Town Manager did) and on page 3 it clearly states: “The contractor will be responsible for the payment of real estate and personal property taxes as assessed by the Town Assessors’ office.”

If we cut $50,000 from the LSSE budget we could open the pools. If we cut $100,000 for the empty, smelly outreach buses we could open the pools, if we simply cut the $15,000 in capital for Cherry Hill (fence and underground storage tank) we could at least open the two wading pools.

But NO, town officials want to punish the people.

celticagent said...

It's too bad about the pools. My wife and I have brought our son there for 8 years, since he was a baby. He always enjoyed splashing in the water and toddling around. A sad day.

But I suggest that the town is thinking about $$ now, making decisions that prioritize income over expense. Revenue is generated by business meetings on the golf course. That might be construed as a fiscally responsible decision by some.

A sad day, nonetheless

LarryK4 said...

If the town were prioritizing income over expense then they would have closed down Cherry Hill in a heartbeat, or would have accepted that incredible offer to take it off our hands for three years for a guaranteed $100,000 in profit.

The last three years the town has run the course it cost taxpayers $282,000. And this year it will lose around $40,0000--or roughly the same as the $39,000 the War Memorial Pool costs.

Maybe not as bad as South Hadley’s Golf fiasco, but an astonishing amount of tax money nevertheless.

Yes, business meetings on golf courses generate revenue… but WAY more so at Hickory Ridge in South Amherst or Amherst Golf Course in Central Amherst.

Cherry Hill is way out of the way. My retired neighbor, a long time Amherst cop, found it odd that Amherst would close War Memorial Pool over Mill River since Mill River is located within a stone’s throw of Cherry Hill, in other words WAY the heck out of the way.

My theory is the town doesn’t like the name “War Memorial.”

Gavin Andresen said...

The Official Reason for closing War Memorial over Mill River is that Mill River is bigger (and can serve more people).

I'll still bet a dollar that they find some way to open War Memorial pool this summer, even if just for limited hours three days a week in August...

LarryK4 said...

You may be right Gavin, and I hope you are.

Because I will surely be reminding folks in the middle of a heat wave that the pool is closed and the golf course is open--and probably getting less use in the middle of one of those sizzling heat waves Mother Nature can throw at us, with help from Al Gore and Global Warming of course.

Ten years ago, during one of the Override years, town officials threatened to close down the War Memorial and Izzy Lyman and I volunteered to operate it. They quickly backed off.

I will be in China this August, so I cannot run it from half a world away.

Mary E.Carey said...

Keep blogging from China, Larry!

LarryK4 said...

I will give it a shot. But 'Only in China' do the authorities try to control the Internet.

And with my outspoken opinions, I could end up run over by a tank.