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Oxford High Sports Complex Details Laid Out

Project would cost $3.1 million and would be completed in four months.

If the town borrows $3.1 million for a proposed athletic complex at , it would cost the average taxpayer about $35 a year in additional taxes, per a plan put forth by First Selectman George Temple.

That is what town officials revealed Monday night during a meeting at Town Hall held to discuss details of the field proposal and how selectman plan to pay for it.

Selectmen voted unanimously, 3-0, to send an official sports complex proposal to the Board of Finance for its stamp of approval. Selectmen also voted unanimously to support a 20-year bond, which would add about .16 mills to the tax rate. Jim Hliva, the town’s finance director, said that equates to an increase of about $35 a year in taxes for the average taxpayer as the town could get a low interest rate, between 2 percent and 2.5 percent a year, on the bond.

Selectman Jeff Haney, the driving force behind the most recent field proposal, said he firmly believes a majority of residents support the plan.

“The time is right,” he said. “Interest rates are low, this needs to get done. If not now, when?”

Finance board members heard details of the proposal Tuesday but did not take any action. The meeting was informational, and the board is expected to meet later this month to determine whether it supports the project. If the finance board does approve the plan, the proposal will be sent to a public hearing and then a town meeting, at which time residents can vote by a show of hands. Neither the public hearing date, nor the town meeting date, have been set.

Finance board members did not say one way or another whether they were in favor of the project.

The proposal includes a synthetic turf field where Oxford High School students could play football, soccer or possibly lacrosse and field hockey one day if the school gets the two latter sports. The field would be surrounded by an eight-lane track. The proposal includes bleachers, lights and a press box. It does not include a field house or a concession stand.

The field would be constructed across the street from the pool and diagonal from the softball and baseball fields. All told, the project will take about four months, said Jim Galligan, town engineer.

The field would be under warranty for 10 years, though officials say they expect it will last about 14 or 15 years.

Discussion of Financing

Board of Finance Chairwoman Lila Ferrillo said she would rather see the project bonded over a 10-year period. Still, selectmen disagree and voted to recommend a 20-year borrowing cycle.

Selectman Dave McKane said he wants the longer bonding cycle because the town has several projects coming down the pike in the next 10 years that he doesn’t want to have to put off because the town is paying more annually for the field than it could be.

He pointed to a new library and renovations or reconstruction of Oxford Center School as big-ticket municipal projects that will need to be completed over the next decade or so.

Finance board member Jack Kiley told selectmen there is a feeling amongst townspeople that the fields project was deliberately brought in at $3.1 million to avoid a referendum. Per town charter, if the number was more than 10 percent of the tax levy – which is $32. 5 million, currently – the project would have had to be approved by a referendum rather than a town meeting.

Temple became irritated by the comment, saying curtly, “If the Board of Finance wants us to raise the price of this project, we can.”

He said a committee that selectmen put together to review the project have worked hard to save the town money.

Referring to a previous proposal for a field that selectmen scrapped after Temple and Haney were elected, Temple said: “This is what the other company wanted to do, but our is much cheaper.” 

Would Temple Support a Referendum?

That is what finance board member Tom Kelly asked Tuesday night.

Temple, who has previously said he’s confident it would be approved at a referendum, stopped short of sending it to a vote of the townspeople. “That’s not something I’m prepared to do right now,” Temple said in response to Kelly’s question.

Haney said he’s offended when people say selectmen are not giving people a vote. “People can vote; come to the town meeting,” he said.

“If it falls within our charter that we can pass this at a town meeting, we’re going to pass it,” he said. “If it goes to referendum, so be it. We’re under budget, we’re following the rules, so what’s the problem?

Haney: Current Facilities are Disgraceful

Haney, who has a son on the football and track teams, said he would push for this project even if his son was not playing sports.

“I just look at these facilities that we have for our kids, and they are not adequate,” he said. “Our track team doesn’t have a track. Our cross country team doesn’t have a course. Our football team (and soccer teams) plays in mud and the fields get flooded."

He said that regardless of whether the project is voted upon at a town meeting, or if people petition to send it to a referendum, he believes it will pass. He said people look at the current facilities and realize the need.

“I’ve had too much positive feedback in the past four months to be pessimistic about this,” he said.

Ed Rowland June 13, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Please gp beyond looking at current facilites at high school and look at current town owned facilities that need upgrading and repairs.$3.1 million could fix all the other facilities which are more of an investment in Oxford than the high school complex.Still a long way to go in the process and the voters will decide at town meeting or referendum.
Joe Blow June 13, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Just have the referendum and let the people decide. Stop with the scam of presenting it at just under the threshold of a referendum. I for one, will be sitting on the sidelines watching the cost overruns because you know there will be many like every other municipal project.
Dad June 13, 2012 at 01:17 PM
How can you build a track with no throwing facilities? The Girls Track Team has one of the best throwers in NE and yet there are no plans listed for those events anywhere. If you are going to do it, do it right or not at all.
Joe Blow June 13, 2012 at 01:33 PM
The throwing facility will be included in the final plan. They just need to keep it under the 10% figure to get it approved at a town meeting.
Me June 13, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Why is it so hard to get a petition going? If you want the referendum, then someone step up and take the lead to get a petition facilitated. Otherwise, quit the complaining about the thought of sending it to referendum. For all those who are ardent about sending it to referendum, haul yourself down to the Clerk when it is ready to start one, get it started, and then announce on here on the patch the location(s) where people can sign it. Reading all these posts on all the articles about this I see many people willing to sign a petition, but no information on who is getting it started and how it going to be circulated. If this gets approved at Town Meeting, then all those who wanted to go to referendum have nothing to gripe about, because no one is taking/took the incentive to get the petition started and circulated. It's only 200 signatures.
Joe Blow June 13, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I think you're jumping the gun. I read somewhere on Patch that a petition can not be started until it is forwarded to the BOS. Therefore, how can you condemn people for not starting a petition if it is impossible at this point in time.
Joe Blow June 13, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Brett Olbrys 11:27 pm on Tuesday, June 12, 2012 It is still too early in the process for a petition. The BOF has to first give it its "favorable" approval. Once that occurs and it goes back to the BOS, the town meeting can then be set. At THAT point, the petition process could start. Section 3-7(A) of the Charter says, "Only an elector or a person qualified to vote at a Town Meeting may circulate a petition requiring that a Special Town Meeting be convened by the Board of Selectmen, or that a question in the warning of any Town Meeting be removed to a referendum vote at a Town Meeting by Referendum. The petition shall be signed only by electors or persons qualified to vote at any such Town Meeting or Referendum on the day the petition is filed." The statement to pay attention to is ..."a question in the warning of any Town Meeting be removed to a referendum vote at a Town Meeting by Referendum." Once the question is known, the petition should be written around that question and you should work with the Town Clerk to make sure the proper wording and procedures are being followed.
Me June 13, 2012 at 02:40 PM
@Joe Please re-read my post, specifically the last seven words of this sentence excerpted from my post "..haul yourself down to the Clerk when it is ready to start one,..." Those last seven words were written specifically because of Mr. Olbrys' post on when a petition can get started. I too read his post before I wrote on my original post, hence why I made sure those specific seven words were mentioned. I am not condeming anyone, but there are a lot of people lobbying heavily for a referendum. While it may be too early to file one, it is not too early to determine who is going to get it started and where it is going to be circulated when the moment presents itself, and right now I do not see anyone volunteering for that duty.
Joe Blow June 13, 2012 at 02:50 PM
My apologize "Me", it did appear you were expressing some attitude in your reply and most of what you had written is all future tense and can not occur at this moment. Would you like to volunteer to get the petition filed and circulated when the time presents itself? How do you know somebody is not working on it already? Because you "do not see anybody volunteering for that duty"? Where are you looking? You seem to make a lot of assumptions and throw out a lot of jabs. Whatta ya got to back it up?
Me June 13, 2012 at 03:46 PM
1. Volunteer: Not at all, because I have no intention of signing the petition. My feeling is get to the hearing, get to the Town meeting, and make your voices known there. If you disapprove of it, then vote it down at the town meeting. If the BOS are able to get it approved at a town meeting and avoid a referendum, then they have worked within the system. If people are that passionate about it going to referendum then start the brainstorming on how you intend to get a petition signed, within the system. Or get to the town meeting and make your vote there. 2. Knowledge of someone working on it: I don't know if someone is not working on it, EXACTLY my point, no one knows. No one has a clue if it is being worked on. If someone is working (or plans on working) on it, they may want to advertise that information so they can get the signatures needed in an efficient manner. Which, incidentally advertising may (or may not) cut down on the pitiful begging for this to go to referendum. 3. I am making no more assumptions than anyone else is who speaking hypothetically of the what they may or may not know on the particular details of the project. Which by reading all the posts on the various articles about this topic, there are some wild assumptions, there are some realistic assumptions, there is a lot of whining about going to referendum, and there is no known people stepping up to the plate to get it referendum by petition. 4. Joe, are you going to take the lead on the petition?
Joe Blow June 13, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Yup, just as I thought, more rhetoric.
Joe Blow June 13, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Here ya go Janis Hardy 20 minutes ago As soon as the Town Meeting on this issue is noticed, there will be several concerned taxpayers circulating the petition to remove the vote on the question to a referendum. I have volunteered to be one of them, and I am sure this forum will be used to let interested signers know the petition is ready. Anyone out there wishing to sign can call me and I will make arrangements to collect your signature(s). I am in the book.... However, I am still hopeful the First Selectman will see the light and be responsive to his constituents, and the BOS will send this to referendum and we will avoid all this drama....
David Yish June 13, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Janis, How long before the actual meeting does the call need to be posted? Is it 2 business days? If so, how does that compare with the amount of time the Town Clerk is allowed to certify any petition? I would certainly hope that the petition would be respected and everything is handled in an above-board manner and not set aside based on some scheduling technicality. I too hope that the BOS will hear the concerns of the public and send this to referendum but I am still skeptical based on last nights hearing.
Someone June 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Has anyone seen great oak lately....facilities for students' basic reading, writing, and arithemetic should come first in order for them to receive fape....sports are EXTRA CURRICULAR.....if funds are lacking, get rid of the extras 1st
Brett Olbrys June 13, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Dave, per CT General Statute 7-3: "...and by publishing a like warning in a newspaper published in such town or having a circulation therein, such posting and such publication to be at least five days previous to holding the meeting, including the day that notice is given and any Sunday and any legal holiday which may intervene between such posting and such publication and the day of holding such meeting, but not including the day of holding such meeting..." ...so it is at least 5 days. Per our Charter, Chapter 3 - section 9(b), "Any item in the warning of a Town Meeting shall be subject to a referendum vote at a Town Meeting by Referendum if a petition is filed in the Town Clerk's office by the close of business on the last business day preceding the meeting, provided that (1) the petition meets all the requirements of Section 3-7 of this Charter, and (2) the petition specifies the item, or items, in the warning of the Town Meeting upon which a referendum vote is requested. Upon receipt of such petition, the Town Clerk shall determine whether the petition meets the requirements of this section, and, if so, shall so certify to the Moderator at the Town Meeting." ...so the Petition needs to be filed by the end of the previous business day before the Town Meeting. Hope this helps!
oxford mom August 16, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Taxpayer: The check i sent for property tax still hasnt been endorsed. With a $2Kparty hike already over last few years with no definitve allocation of where that moneyy went, why is this still not enough? Seems to never be enough even though i still wonder where the money goes every year. It disgusts me that anyone ask for more money to be shelled out. Why dont we demand first where the existing money is going

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