All politics is local, claimed the late Thomas Patrick “Tip” O’Neill, long time speaker of the house. There are lots of interpretations and uses for this creed. Right now in my home town of Oxford, Connecticut, we have a referendum scheduled for August 16 regarding whether or not the town should spend close to a million dollars on a high school athletic field.
I did not live in Oxford until 2007 so I did not have a say when the town decided to discontinue sending its high school students to the neighboring town of Seymour and build their own high school. They opted for the school, a modern facility with a rotunda style library doffing the second floor visible below the main entrance tucked away behind a long driveway of State Route 188. They build an elaborate football and multi-sport field in back of the school with a modern scoreboard, bleachers on the home and visitors side, concession stands, and other modern amenities. One thing that did not work out was the drainage. After a heavy rain, the field does not drain well, and it is described as a quagmire. Since the facility opened for business four years ago, twenty sports events had to be cancelled. Granted, I fully understand what they are going through, but the proposed “fix” is not necessary and will cost Oxford taxpayers a fortune.
The proposal is to abandon this barely four year old on-campus field and on an adjoining lot, build an access road onto this property and turn it into a five-sport stadium-like facility with field turf, instead of natural grass, which is generally built on a base from old tire treads, and its vapors have been known to make children sick on playgrounds where it is often used to save on maintenance. Let us look at some of the problems with the town spending our money on this:
- This town has a public library in the back of town hall smaller than the average walk-in closet. It has been trying to get a new library since 1976. Shows the Board of Education’s warped sense of priority.
- The plan for the new facility does not include rest rooms—I think that is required by law.
- The juxtaposition of one of the end zones will result in sun in the players’ eyes, but the field with have lights and most games will be played on Friday nights—for God’s sake—this is a small town and the school and field site are in a residential area, the last thing we need is victory car horns beeping after midnight.
- Field turf is not healthy. This is not Met Life Stadium in New Jersey. There you have two professional NFL football teams sharing the stadium and I will bet my bottom dollar that field turn does not sit on old tire treads.
- Bottom line, this is not an improvement, but a correction for the failure to have good drainage in the field they built. If this was the only way to avoid this, something less elaborate should have been built on this proposed site in the first place.
- The town claims they will get back $700,000 from the state. Possibly, but only if the state does not cut aid to public schools. The state has a deficit of its own and a tax-happy Democrat governor. There is no guarantee the town will get this money.
I will be voting nay on the referendum on August 16. I believe in limited government and sensible spending cuts, not higher taxes. I intend to start in my own backyard.