Editor's Note: Nicholas Kapoor is chairman of the Democratic Town Committee and a member of the Town Council, but he says his letter is written as a town citizen rather than in those roles.
To the Editor:
Chalk Hill has been a town building since July 1, 2011. It is now May 2012. In those 10+ months, no plan was formulated or study done to see if Chalk Hill was sustainable to stay open or closed.
The First Selectman held a joint meeting of the Town Council, Board of Education and Planning & Zoning Commission last summer on the matter but it then seemed to disappear. It has now become the eleventh hour. The residents of Monroe approved the annual budget.
In that budget is a $150,000 line item designated for Chalk Hill to be hibernated. $150,000 divided by - for arguments sake – 20,000 residents is $7.50. The taxpayers of this town will be paying approximately $7.50 in fiscal year 12-13 to hibernate Chalk Hill. It could be higher in future fiscal years if Chalk Hill is hibernated.
That is the story of Chalk Hill. While mulling over those facts, here are a few more to think about: Chalk Hill is a town asset. The value of the building is sitting on the balance sheet of the Town as an asset. Why would we not want to utilize our assets to the best of our ability? Why would we not want our taxpayer money to go toward what could become an amazing community center for all of those in town to use? Many of those in town, elected and not, have said that Chalk Hill will thrive when it is occupied.
Due to their own perseverance and drive to keep Chalk Hill open, a small community task force has taken it upon themselves to come up with the difference of what it would take to operate the building and what is in the budget. These people have dedicated hundreds of hours to keeping Chalk Hill open and have done an amazing job.
It is time for the appropriate elected officials in our town to step up to the plate and get the job done. We are, very unfortunately as stated before, in the eleventh hour — once again. The taxpayers of Monroe are going to be burdened with $7.50 whether Chalk Hill stays open or closes.
If the community task force, along with others, can create a business plan to keep Chalk Hill — at the very least — revenue neutral and quite possibly revenue generating, it is my hope we can stand behind them and help out where we can.
Keeping Chalk Hill open would benefit the residents of the town as programs at the facility expand and as a community center. It would benefit the character of the town so that a boarded up building is not in the middle of a beautiful school campus. It will utilize an asset that we already have while giving the taxpayers something to show for their money. Parks and Recreation and EMS who are already thriving in the building will have to move their services. Chalk Hill should stay open. To those who have authority in that decision, please get the job done.