Letter: Questions on Article 1

by beth on March 7, 2017

[Ed note: My Southborough accepts signed letters to the editor submitted by Southborough residents. Letters may be emailed to mysouthborough@gmail.com.]

To the Editor:

We are on the eve of considering the largest transaction in Southborough’s 200+ year history. Considering the gravity of this event, here are some questions that should be asked, regardless of your position on this matter.

  1. Why the rush? We are entering into a $30MM decision with significant tax consequences, and yet we are somehow OK with major changes and amendments being proposed right up to, and literally during, Special Town Meeting. Time enables the critical gaze of public scrutiny. We are a town of well-meaning people, and with a fair amount of shared information, and a reasonable amount of cooperation, the Town of Southborough can get this right.
  2. Will the “land swap” deal immediately dissolve if Article #1 is not approved on March 8th? There are two parts of this proposed transaction, and both parties have a valuable asset the other wants. Will the mutual desires for a reasonable deal actually evaporate with the turn of a calendar page, or do we have the time get this right?
  3. Does the town of Southborough really need a $23MM megaplex facility? It is clear that the vast majority of Southborough citizens support and believe in the importance of Public Safety, but do we need a facility the size and expense of Foxboro’s, which has double our population; and when nearby Sutton, which has virtually the exact same size population as Southborough, is able to build a new police facility for $7MM?
  4. Why are the powers that be not providing the citizens of Southborough with the several reasonable options, which do currently exist, and letting the townspeople decide as a collective on which option is best for the town? With the dark cloud of secret dealings that permitted Park Central hanging over this process, why is there less transparency when we deserve more transparency?

Thank you for considering these four questions. Hopefully your answers will help guide your decision on this important vote.

Kevin Battles
Resident, Latisquama Road

1 Marnie Hoolahan March 7, 2017 at 5:56 PM

Kevin,

Thank you.
I think you raise the 4 key questions that I have. This just does not seem like it has been well vetted. I hope that your letter prompts others to scratch their heads.

Why the rush?
Why all these last minute changes?
Why no property deed on the land we are swapping?
Why suddenly increase the CR to 93% from 50%?
Why 30MM?
Where are the appraisals?
Where is the fact sheet on this “deal” that led to Land exchange agreement?
What is really happening with our debt burden?
Why wasn’t the BoS and Town Counsel more forthcoming with data, facts and transparency to this >8 month deliberative process?
Why did we only start getting real content a few weeks ago?
What Master Town Planning is our BOS conducting without our knowledge?
What’s next?

If we empower the BOS by validating it with a “yes” vote, we have only ourselves to blame.

2 Brain March 8, 2017 at 8:39 AM

And if you vote no we will only have ourselves to blame for the 40B condo complex coming to latisquama road. Be careful what you wish for.

3 David Parry March 8, 2017 at 12:36 PM

These questions reveal the ugly truth behind theses NIMBY protests, and the answers show the huge ironies and negative consequences that will flow to all of us — IF these few naysayers succeed in rejecting the most unique, creative, and important Article in our town’s long history.

In some of the letters and comments above, these questions are asked :

Q:1. WHY THE RUSH ?

A: There is no “rush”. It is normal to make changes approaching Town Meeting with large complex projects ..

Q..2: WHY ALL THESE LAST MINUTE CHANGES ?

A: Because the Selectmen are TRYING TO FIND ANSWERS to satisfy the very few diehard opponents, who still REFUSE TO COMPROMISE (by accepting 93% open space in perpetuity, instead of 100%). . These are mostly NIMBY PROTESTS from a TINY HANDFUL of persons along Latisquama Rd, who cannot even see the site, even in the middle of winter, with no leaves on the trees.

Q.3 WHY SUDDENLY INCREASE THE CONSERVATION RESTRICTION (CR) FROM 50% TO 93% ?

A: Because most residents WANT more open space protected.

Q.4 WHAT MASTER PLANNING IS OUR BOS CONDUCTING WITHOUT OUR KNOWLEDGE ?

A; None.

Q. 5 WILL THE ” LAND SWAP” DEAL DISSOLVE IF THE ARTICLE IS REJECTED?

A Yes it will. Why? Because a few persons just threw a major proposal, which took many years to construct, into the TRASH. The anger level in this town and at St Marks, will be very high. They will not make up and pretend it never happened, and St Marks has already stated the golf course will be sold. And who will be responsible for this? – The NIMBY diehards Their “toss it all in the trash” solution, and “please save our special neck of the woods”, does not even attempt to address the public safety issue. NADA.

Q. 6 UNDER A HYPOTHETIC SCENARIO, MIGHT THE TOWN EVER APPROVE A PURCHASE OF THE GOLF COURSE, ALONE, IF IT WERE TO BE SALVAGED BY SOME MIRACLE AND RE-NEGOTIATED ? (My added question)

A: . NO. Because it would be expensive, and it would not solve the Public Safety issue, and it would need a supermajority (2/3rds) vote to approve. Now think about that for a minute. Here is a hypothetical article, requesting the voters to approve a very expensive golf course, for no use other than a golf course, competing in price against private deveopers. It does not provide any solution for Public Safety. Well, first of all, you have aleady alienated the entire police and fire fraternity, and all their friends and acquaintenances. Plus you have already alienated most of the neighborhood which prefers the present day deal because it totally protects their views and property values. So who is left to get to that 2/3rds vote ? VERY FEW.. The fact is that this hypothetical scenario is a “pipe dream”. Besides being totally unnecessary.

Q.7 WHY CAN’T THE TOWN NEGOTIATE USING HAMMER OF “RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL”? (My own added question – because this is being touted as the ace up out sleeve, and the hammer of St mark’s nect).

A The repeated and false claim that the Town will have long term ‘RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL”, is a myth,pure and simple. All developers AND INSTUTUTIONS know that they can easily get out of that trap– by simply paying back taxes, and then waiting one year. So that “”Right” will end in 2019 or 2020.— Just 2 or 3 years away — SOON. Then the town will NOT EVEN KNOW when the land has been sold, or to whom, or for what purpose —It could be affordable condos, or a hospital or other institution, all of which are ALLOWED BY RIGHT . So, folks, we will all wake up one morning and read about it in MySouthborough, and it will be a “done deal”, and most likely not a good one,and your property values are going to tank. ..

Q.8 WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES IF ARTICLE 1 IS REJECTED ?

A. The golf course will be SOLD TO PRIVATE DEVELOPERS at far higher price than this town can afford, the unique landscape will be gone forever, ,and this town will rue the day. And the HUGE IRONY is that a few diehards will be to blame for not only the crash in their own property values, but lower values throughout all of downtown. Because this land is unique, it is our front gateway, and it will be gone, forever.

Q.9 WHO ARE THESE DIEHARD OPPONENTS ?

A. They are a very small handful, that is shrinking daily, mostly along or near Latisquama Rd. and the surrounding streets. As far as I know, non of them can actually see the public safety site from theire homes, because they live on side streets, or their back yards are so heavily wooded. The nearest house isf 400 ft away and compleely screened from view. Why are they shrinking in number,? Because the huge majority of that neighborhood, have endorsed the proposal, because it saves 93% of the open space on the golf course, and will preserve their existing views and property values. It will also save our Town’s character, will provide Woodward School with a loop driveway, and will SOLVE the Public Safety problem by provding a very attrractive new building, well landscaped and screened, and situated in EXACTLY THE RIGHT LOCATION, far from homes, but close to major highways — AND ALL OF THESE ITEMS WILL BE SOLVED AT THE SAME TIME IN THIS ONE ARTICLE.

Q. 10 WHAT’S NEXT?

A. I suppose this is innuendo for skullduggery and secret dealing. Enough of these conspiracy theories. The reality is that the Selectmen are going to present an Article 1 tonight , which RESOLVES 99% OF THE OUTSTANDING ISSUES, and 99% of us will hopefully have the common sense to grasp this “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity”, and approve it.

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4 southsider March 8, 2017 at 2:53 PM

… and we’ll all be paying for a building that will probably cost $30million by the time it’s completed.

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