Last Thursday (8/16/12) my home town of Oxford, Connecticut held a referendum to decide whether or not the town should spend $7+ million for athletic fields for the high school that opened for business in 2007. When I was living in Norwalk and planning the move to Oxford, I had mixed feelings about whether or not Oxford needed its own high school—in the past it bused its 9 – 12 pupils to neighboring Seymour. Oxford has two 55+ condo complexes, has an older population, and nobody is expecting another post WWII baby boom. But since I was not a resident of Oxford when the high school was approved, I had no say in it and that I consider it water over the dam. But now that I am a resident and registered voter, and taxpayer in this town, I feel [we] should not have to pay for a mistake.
As with most high schools, the athletic field (mostly football) is located in the back of the building. They put in state of the art clubhouses, scoreboard, bleachers, and the like. The problem is the field does not drain properly; since the high school opened for business with 2008 being the first season they fielded sports teams, about twenty (20) outdoor sports events were cancelled or changed to away games because the field was unplayable. Understandable, but in a recession economy, is an $80 a year property tax increase to correct a mistake justifiable?
Unlike the existing field, the complex they want to build in a lot behind the current field off a small access road is for five fields in one. Not just a football field which can be marked and used for soccer and lacrosse as well, they are building five separate field for five separate sports using field turf, an artificial surface that is more forgiving than Astroturf and does not result in the same degree of injuries, it is costly and its base is usually recycled tire treads—many little leagues have banned field turf because the vapors from vulcanized rubber are not healthy to inhale. If they absolutely had to do something, they could have gone with the single football field built for multi-purpose with natural grass; and they could have held off, maybe move the home games to the Nolan Field Complex in nearby Seymour, until a better economy.
But the worst thing about this situation is the one-sidedness the town took. There were stake signs all over route 67 and local roads saying VOTE YES OHS TRACK & FIELD. Not one VOTE NO sign in the whole town. I voted at 6:30 AM and avoided crowds but my mother voted later in the morning and ran into First Selectman George Temple. She asked Mr. Temple who paid for those signs and he responded by saying a PAC (Political Action Group) funded the signs. Although I am a Republican and share a great deal of political philosophy with Mr. Temple, I think this is an abuse of PAC money. The town used PAC money to sway the townspeople to its side on the issue. The most fundamental of all democracy, both representative and New England Town Meeting formats, is that both sides are represented. I have said in prior blogs that although I am right of center and a compassionate conservative, I am thankful that liberals to exist and state their cases as I state mine. Earth is the imperfect world and nobody is right all the time. If everybody agrees on everything, there are only two possibilities, either everybody’s right or everybody’s wrong and if everybody’s wrong, everybody thinks they’re right. We have two distinct parties for a reason, so one keeps the other in check. Our Founding Fathers, who studied and took the advice of philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Locke, intended conflict to be the tool to use to resolve conflict. The Platonian Dielectic is based on the principle of starting with a thesis, responding with an (opposite) antithesis, take the best of both and form a synthesis. The synthesis becomes a new thesis which may have an antithesis of its own; the process continues until [practical] equilibrium is achieved. As we observe in Washington, DC today, there is no guarantee this will prevail, but there is zero chance of it in a one-sided environment. We need to revert to Thomas Payne common sense solutions.