To the editor:
On Tuesday evening, Aug. 14, cool and intellectual thinking by enough city councilors helped city taxpayers dodge a bullet.
City Council voted down a $750,000 loan request, by the mayor, for a handful of people at Brierneck Crossing. A taxpayer-guaranteed $750,000 loan authorization so this group can pursue grants, loans, donations and Community Preservation Act funds in hopes of paying the taxpayers back someday.
The councilors recognized the long-term financial and disastrous implications of this proposed city land ownership. According to the Brierneck Crossing group, in the past the land was used as a dump. Imagine the cost to the taxpayers for a cleanup? Once the taxpayers owned the land, they could have been looking at another $750,000 to clean up the mess. As the city planner, Greg Catamatori, indicated that evening, the city does not have money or maintenance programs in place for the land it now owns.
When asked by one of the councilors, “Does this group have a backup plan for the money if the loan request is voted down?,” the answer was “no.” That was how confident the group was about shifting its responsibilities, and the developers’ problems, to the taxpayers.
This brings up a point about citizen participation in government. I know there were many taxpayers who disapproved of the loan request, but due to the “business of life,” they can not attend every meeting; however, a simple two- or three-sentence letter, either in favor or against any issue, is just as effective as attending the meetings. All communications are read to the entire City Council, prior to any voting. We do make a difference. One of the major financial problems in this city, state and federal government, today, is the total disregard for the taxpayers. Borrow, place the debt with the taxpayer, and try and figure out how to pay for it later.
I am not against development. In the past, I have donated land to Essex Greenbelt, monies and time to private organizations. What we are against is the administration choosing sides with any private group and using city employees, their time and effort, along with guaranteed loan requests, supported with taxpayers’ monies.
Ralph Hobbs Jr.