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Chalk Hill is a Town Asset

Using Chalk Hill will give taxpayers something to show for their money.

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.

Nicholas Kapoor

Anne May 07, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Couldn't agree more. Vavrek's comments are along the lines of "Someone else should go figure out a plan and let me know..." It is really unbelievable. I'm not sure what he thinks his job is, but it is HIS responsibility as a leader to deal with this, rather than taking the usual short-sighted approach and commit us to a $150k annual plan to mothball a building in a manner that provides zero return. There are clearly enough volunteers and committed people involved to assist, but as usual - a vacuum of leadership.
Jethro May 08, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Looks like Chalk Hill will be the victim of poor planning by the Selectman. I don't see any vision coming out of town hall.
Concerned in Monroe May 08, 2012 at 06:14 AM
So who is going to pay for it? It's going to cost about ten dollars to run it as a community center but not all of us has that luxury. I've been out of work for 19 months and ten dollars is two meals to me. I'd like to commend those who are looking out for us who might be going through tough times. I think many other people are struggling and I find it insulting people like Nick can be so flippant with our money. I do appreciate those looking to find ways to keep the school revenue neutral (both here and across the spectrum of the budget) so that we are not forced to raise the budget and our taxes.
Ride the lightning May 08, 2012 at 11:33 AM
You can't make everyone happy. You have to do what is best for the majority. It would be absurd to stop moving projects forward until 100% of the citizens of Monroe are employed. The vast majority can afford the $7.50 it would take to keep it open.
monroe taxpayer May 08, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Is it a real asset to the true majority residents? How do we know that? Budget and elections are not really decided by the true majority of resident, we only get a percentage of the resident voting. That is why this town is always so divided. Maybe someone should send out a info pack and survey of all homeowners informing them of all issues and costs involved and see if that is true. Ask the residents what they feel should be done and how it should be funded?
Big Boy May 08, 2012 at 01:20 PM
It should never have been closed in the first place. Stepmey Elementary or Monroe Elementary should have been the choice to close either one. To close a building in the middle of an obvious school campus was a poor choice. The two other elementary schools are not located on an obvious school campus so they would have been easier to alter their use and attract some different business use. Chalk Hill does not have this same appeal being located on a school campus. The only other use I see for Chalk Hill is a Cultural Center or a place to bring in exhibits that residents will pay good money to see. The type of exhibits that travel to places like Foxwoods or Moheghan Sun or museum type exhibits. I went to see a shoe exhibit in New Britain at their Museum, again it was a traveling exhibit and tickets were $45.00 a person. Other than something like that, I think we closed the wrong building and now have a big white elephant waiting for school enrollment to increase
Ride the lightning May 08, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Chalk Hill cannot support the lower grade levels because the cafeteria is on the second floor. Certain grades (K-2) cannot be on the second floor due to fire code violations. It was designed to be a middle school, not an elementary school. Chalk Hill was also in poor shape and required costly upgrades. The First Selectman was told that his budget reductions would force CH to close so he should have planned for this to happen.
Big Boy May 08, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Fawn Hill is an elementary school. If Kindergarden through second grade is the issue, then keep all of those grades at Fawn Hollow in addition to as many additional grades it can hold and move the other grades between Chalk Hill, Jockey Hollow and Masuk. I am not saying it is an easy fix by any means, just a better way to go to since Chalk hill is located on a school campus and Monroe El and Stepney El are not. That's all.
Steve Kirsch May 08, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Please do not debate the closing of Chalk Hill any more. People may not like the decision, they may think they had (or have) better options, but the options were looked at and a decision was reached. Chalk Hill is no longer a school and is not in the Board of Education’s portfolio of buildings. We need to decide what next for this building.
Big Boy May 08, 2012 at 11:50 PM
It can still be a school. Just because a decision was made doesn't make it a good one. Haven't we all made a bad decision or two in our lives?
Joe May 09, 2012 at 08:59 AM
The only reason Chalk Hill remains open is for the exclusive use of a private daycare for town employees. The building should be put on the market and sold. The town subsidized daycare can be located in another privately owned building in town and be open at market rates to anyone seeking daycare. Enough with the town employee benefits.
Harry Aggannis May 09, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Have the people proposing to keep it open put their numbers into a spreadsheet that could be shared?
Ride the lightning May 09, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Joe: why do you feel the only way to make your point is to provide false and misleading information?
Wolfe May 10, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Chalk Hill is currently being used for adult education classes, adult recreation, EMS classes and training (as well as a possible future home base for EMS), and as a meeting hall for a variety of groups from around town (including the Boy Scouts). Just because the building is not being used as a school anymore, then that does not make the building un-usable. There are a number of other uses for Chalk Hill, as well. The former student meeting room can become a small movie theater. Just imagine the revenue that the town could make for showing good movies at $4 per person to 200 people, twice a night, two nights per week. On top of that, selling those people soda and snacks. Chalk Hill is NOT a "private daycare" center and never will be.
Christine E. May 10, 2012 at 10:29 PM
200 people, twice per night, twice per week? Are you serious? Chalk Hill doesn't have the luxury of being easily accessed by out of towners, and good luck getting 400 people per week from monroe alone to go to a movie.
Christine E. May 10, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Scratch that, 800 per week. Yeah...good luck with that.
Joe May 10, 2012 at 11:06 PM
How many EMS training classes were held at Chalk Hill in the last year?
Joe May 10, 2012 at 11:09 PM
What is the yearly / monthly charge for a child at the daycare? Is it open to Monroe residents?
jim laguardia May 11, 2012 at 01:31 PM
it is open to monroe and other residents, stop with your false comments. also there have been a lot of ems training classes at chalk hill
Christine E. May 11, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Jim, these look like questions to me...not necessarily false comments. Do you have the answers?
jim laguardia May 11, 2012 at 06:41 PM
i am refering to this persons saying the daycare is only for certain people on a bunch of different places
Stephanie G May 11, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Okay, now I'm totally confused... Is the Monroe Early Learning Center open to non-town employees or isn't it? When I look at this document on the town's web site, it seems to imply that it's only for town employees saying that it, "was created and designed for Board of Education and Town of Monroe Staff" and specifically asking for information on the applicant's school or town employment.: http://intranet.monroect.org/page10502624.aspx The Parks & Rec web site mentions something about MELC, but doesn't give any information on cost. I'm genuinely curious as I'm looking into preschool for my son this fall.
jim laguardia May 11, 2012 at 08:25 PM
it is open to the public and they are looking to up their enrollment
Joe May 11, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I'll find the article but it stated that the daycare was for children of Monroe Police and teachers. Perhaps that has changed recently but the daycare has not been open to town residents. How long has this daycare been in operation? My concern is the daycare is not competing fairly with other private sector daycare operators. Relax a bit Jim, there are alot of questions on this issue. Doesn't the EMS have adequate space at the Jockey Hollow Firehouse. Monroe El in underutilized perhaps if they need space the classes could be held there if not at the firehouse? Just trying to justify the need for Chalk Hill to remain open.
jim laguardia May 12, 2012 at 01:19 AM
there you go again trying to move your agenda by planting the seed that it is for polce and teachers only, it isnt like i said that is the end of the story.... unless you keep saying it over and over

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