Special Town Meeting
Airport Study Committee – Project funding
April 26, 2010
First Selectwoman Derrylyn Gorski called the Special Town Meeting to order at 7:18
p. m. There were approximately 125 in attendance.
The First Selectwoman called for nominations from the floor for a Moderator. There was a motion by Pat Martin, duly seconded by Madeline Slicer to nominate Steven Thornquist. There were no further nominations.
The Moderator read the notice of the meeting. He then introduced Ruth Beardsley to give the details of the December meeting and the questions that were asked that will be addressed tonight.
Ruth Beardsley stated that she had been a member of the Airport Steering Committee that met in the fall of 2005 and the spring of 2008. Following are the questions from the December 2009 meeting:
Why renovate the airport hangar? Short answer – we need more space. There are many times that planned activities in the gym must be displaced because of meetings. There are many groups and activities that need additional space, especially indoor recreational space. Per First Selectwoman Gorski, the population of the town has increased ten per cent over the past ten years. We have increasing demands for use of facilities by all user groups and some groups that would like to be users but are not.
What is the capacity of the proposed building? It will fit approximately the same number as the town hall gym.
What is the estimated annual revenue? Revenue breakdown is – cell tower, $22,000; rentals, $3,600; additional future programs - $14,390. Total projected revenue is $39,990.
What are the estimated operating costs? Operating costs breakdown is – heating, ventilation, AC, $5,500; electric, $5,700; telephone, cable, alarm, $1,500; fire extinguisher inspections, $600; well and septic maintenance, $500; cleaning supplies, $1,000; pest control, $300, custodial, $15,600. Total estimated operating costs is $30,700.
Is there a place to display art and memorabilia? Yes, a small gallery in the foyer, as well as the facility being used for temporary shows.
Could the building be increased in size to accommodate other sports, i.e. volleyball, basketball? The architects stated that the building may be lengthened by 15 ft which would add
approximately $240,000 to the overall cost. The sidewalls may be raised by 3 ft increasing the height across the span of the room for approximately an additional $40,000.
Aileen Magda, 28 Deerfield Lane – What has been done with the cell tower revenue to date?
R. Beardsley – the money was placed in a “sinking fund” for the airport through 2007. It was then placed in the general fund but could again be placed into a “sinking fund”.
A question was asked as to where the numbers came from for the Stats on the number of persons attending events. Numbers were for people who registered for Park & Rec programs. Has there been a change in the numbers of repeaters? The number hasn’t changed but there has been an increase in new attendees.
Ann McDonnell, 5 Rowe Ct.- What is a sinking fund? A fund that money was put into and set aside.
Craig Stahl, 285 Wooding Hill Rd – Will the $14,390 under revenue be counted as Park & Rec income and if so what Park & Rec expenses will go against that? It’s good to show the income but also to show where the money is going. How much is going to the airport, how much to Park & Rec and what would be Park & Rec’s expenses?
Dawn Brinton, Park & Rec Director – I put in what the program expenses would be - $8,255.
The $14,390 is a net number.
Melissa Spear, 350 Amity Rd – Isn’t twelve days low for the rental income?
D. Brinton – This building is so overused that we have to turn people away. We are not expecting to charge town organizations to use the hangar. The twelve days – one per month – is for individuals. We don’t know how much that will be so we estimated on the low side.
Alex Hutchinson, 76 Luke Hill Rd – What percentage of the time do you think the building will be used for town programs?
D. Brinton – Right now I estimate about 30% by Park & Rec and 20% by other civic organizations.
Sharon Huxley, 340 Old Mill Rd – The way I see it the $22,000 is already being used and if it is taken out of the general fund then the tax payers will have to put it back in. So it should not be counted right now.
D. Brinton – I know that the $22,000 is already being used for things at the airport. We will still continue to do that. We are not trying to take that $22,000 away from maintenance and other expenses at the airport.
George McDonnell, 5 Rowe Ct – If the $22,000 is in the general fund and you take it out what money is going to go in to make up for this projected revenue? Where will it come from to make up for the short fall in the budget?
First Selectwoman Gorski – The purpose of the revenue from the cell tower was to offset the cost of maintaining the airport property. We do not need to use that money. We can take it off and then it will be a cost of roughly $17,000 to operate the facility. Lake View Lodge currently costs the town approximately $20,000 to run the facility because we do not charge fees to many of the organizations who use it on a regular basis - Lyons Club, VFW, etc. This will be another facility where they can meet and it will cost a little less than Lake View Lodge. Lake View Lodge does not have a revenue producer whereas the airport has the cell tower. That money until 2007 had been intended to be spent on maintaining the airport property. For example, the horse rings and viewing stand could be repaired with that money.
Dick Van Horn, 186 Crestwood Rd -You are always going to have the cell tower revenue and it is not realistic to put it in on the revenue side. Whether we build the structure or not we will still get the $22,000.
Bob Grosso, 39 Farm View Rd – How much does it cost to maintain the current hangar? Why are you comparing costs to Lake View Lodge?
D. Gorski – The current hangar isn’t costing us anything. We were trying to compare this building which will not be occupied all the time to Lake View Lodge which is empty unless someone requests its use to give a realistic number. We rent Lake View Lodge to private individuals roughly (mainly town residents) 2 – 3 days per month and the cost to the town is approximately $20,000. This facility will actually have more flexible uses and I think Dawn was just being conservative in her numbers.
Madeline Slicer, 70 Lacey Rd – When the cell tower was approved I remember that the revenue was supposed to be used to maintain the airport property and somehow it has gone from the airport to the general fund.
Tom Hunt, 809 Carrington Rd – Is Lakeview Lodge self sufficient right now? D. Gorski - No, it cost the town roughly $20,000. T. Hunt - If some of the expenses are offset there then they can be offset at the hangar, as well.
C. Stahl, 285 Wooding Hill Rd – I notice that for horse show revenue you are showing $1,200. Does that mean that nonprofit groups that are currently using the airport for no charge are now going to have to pay?
D. Brinton –The $1,200 is for two Park & Rec sponsored horse shows - Harvest Festival and one other that we always talked about doing in July. We are not trying to compete with other nonprofits in town. The kitchen facilities will also be available to nonprofit groups at no charge.
C. Stahl – We are currently in a situation where we cannot maintain our roads. I question whether in five, ten fifteen years the town will be able to afford to maintain another building.
Russ von Beren, 134 Wooding Hill Rd – When the cell tower was built, the estimated revenue was $5,200. Basically at that time the only thing the money was being used for port a potties. Another transmitter was put up later on and so the revenue has increased to $22,000. Why keep letting the money build up when it is not requested to be used (for the airport)? $1,800 per year was put aside for port a potty use and the rest was placed in the general fund.
Richard Barnes, 534 Bethmour Rd – I think this building may have a negative effect on the Lake View Lodge activities, attendance and usage.
Betsey Thornquist, 25 Oak Ridge Dr - When does the operating cost kick in and if we don’t do this how much will it cost to demolish the structure?
First Selectwoman Gorski -If we are approved tonight, we will be giving the committee approval to seek funding to raise $2,000,000. We do have the Steap Grant from the state and we have five years to spend that and so five years to raise the $2,000,000. If we do not use it in five years we will lose the money. The $200,000 Steap Grant is last money so it cannot be used to start the project but can be used for leverage in terms of appeal and the fact that it has garnered state funding. To demolish the existing hangar would cost between $56,000 and $80,000. There are chemicals, etc. that would have to be taken care of in an environmentally safe way. If the project is not approved that will come up next year.
Audrey Eisenstadt, 35 Rainbow Rd – We are talking about demolishing and building a new building yet the title is renovation and restoration? They are two entirely different things.
First Selectwoman Gorski - We are keeping the slab and foundation walls and the restoration part is just the feel of the hangar building.
Shelly Losty, 24 Gaylord Mountain Rd – People without children will want to know what the building will have for them. What about other revenue? This is an expensive proposition. Some city halls have movies, events and charge for these. There is nothing being referenced for our older residents.
D. Brinton – we are trying to add on to what we already offer to the town. It would free up the town hall for other organizations to use the building. It is not part of the revenue but is already in the Park & Rec budget. Most is adult oriented such as Bethany Play House.
S. Losty – Park & Rec usage is 30% and other organizations 20%. What about the other 50%? I think we need to work out other ways to bring in revenue for the other 50%. Dawn stated that the town is open to suggestions.
Pat Martin, 107 Cheshire Rd – it’s always good to underestimate any revenue. The building is very attractive and unique and because of that a lot of groups will want to use the building. It would be hard to predict what the revenue might be but it is part of our history and to lose it would be a very sad thing. It is a modest cost and I think it would be a mistake to let it go. There’s a good possibility that the revenue will be strong.
Paul Manger, 43 Bethmour Rd - How is it proposed to raise the $2,000,000 and what happens if we can’t?
First Selectwoman Gorski - The committee interviewed two different fundraising organizations and talked about doing a capital funds drive. They would work with the committee within the town to identify individual donors as well as foundations. First they would do a feasibility study to determine whether it can or can’t be raised before moving forward.
A. Slicer – We are moving toward the building being restored and that is the permission that we are asking the town to give. We have had two major fundraisers come into the town to give presentations and based on preliminary studies the group feels that $2.2 million is not going to be a problem even in these poor economic times. They will not go forward unless they are assured that they will be able to raise the money. They look for large donors in the town and feel that 10% of the people will give 60 - 80% of the project – professional businesses, corporations and individuals. The next area will be business and industries and then they will go to foundations and grants and then public events. There is a multitude of ways to raise the funds. If they believe they cannot make the money within a reasonable amount of time they will stop the project.
Marc Adelberg, 29 Mesa Dr - What are the dimensions of the main room? 30’ X 70’. With an additional 15’, 30’ X 85’. Ceiling height is 29’ in the middle. Volleyball court size can fit into that. Basketball could be for fun but too small for a game.
Alex Smith, 355 Downs Rd – What is the shell coated with? I think that it has a 30 year warranty. You can not repaint it or remove the corrosion. The shell is only guaranteed for 30 years and then you will have to throw it away.
A. Slicer – The actual extension of the building will be 16’ and will be raised on a 3’ higher foundation. The steel building that is going up states 62’ wide, 24’ high and 86’ in length. The cost for construction of that part of the building is $123,980. The building has been up for over 50 years. It is not true that it will need to be thrown away after 30.
Randy Raddatz, 22 Bethridge Rd – I see kitchen revenue listed for $3,600 but the kitchen itself is not in the recommended budget. The numbers would be more like 2.6 million rather than 2.1 or 2.4 million. If you are going to put the kitchen in, put the expenses for the kitchen in and if you are not going to recommend the kitchen, take the revenue for the kitchen out. Do we retain all rights to anything of that airport? For example, we would not as fundraising sell off the facade to Bradley Airfield Museum?
A. Slicer - We retain that. Nothing would be given over for some of the potential funding either for a museum or for a corporate. Town Counsel stated that it would have to go to a contract and therefore a town meeting. So the answer is no.
Stuart Morgenstern, 17 Old Fairwood Rd – Between revenue and expenses I see a loss to the town every year between $12,000 and $13,000 – the cost to run this facility. It seems to be the worst economic time to be doing this project. It seems we are spending money frivolously. We should use what we have and return the $200,000 to the state. Let’s lead by example.
Shakaut Khan, 15 Rainbow Rd – just a clarification. The revenue is $39,000, costs $30,700. We expect that there will not be additional taxes?
Bruce Hescock, 160 Humiston Dr- When does the clock start on the grant? It started January 1. So we have less than five years. What about paving? Art stated that is all included along with landscaping.
Country Maron, 61 Russell Rd – This is watershed property. What kind of accommodations are there for containing waste from going into ground water?
Liz Smith, 355 Downs Rd – One comment about my husband. He has been a design engineer for Sikorsky for twenty-eight years. He knows what he is talking about. Are there any other paid personnel besides the custodian? No.
A. Magda – How much will the new pavilion at Veteran’s Park cost and will it have a kitchen?
First Selectwoman Gorski – The pavilion at Veteran’s Park is an open pavilion, not a closed facility. The kitchen would support any activities on the field. No kitchen will be installed until we raise money to do so. Basically it will supply shade and there will be lavatories, as well. That project was done through the same grant program but a different project. The Steap Grant was for $400,000 and $94,000 was used from the LOCIP fund (local capital improvement program) which again is grant money. No town money was used.
Nancy Tellgmann, 21 Ridge Rd – Have we projected the cost to maintain the building? Have the costs for cleanup been factored in?
D. Brinton – the custodial costs are for twenty hours a week. And that is for organizations other then Park & Rec. Park & Rec has cleaned up before and will do so at this building also.
S. Huxley – You are talking about the kitchen, 15’ extension and sidewalls being optional. Who is going to make a decision about whether these are done? Who is going to manage the fund? Who is going to manage the project? The people of the town are not always involved when grant money is being spent.
A. Slicer – Whether to amend or add on to the project will go to a Town Meeting. There will be a fundraising committee but all the money will come to the town.
First Selectwoman Gorski - We have an Accountant that comes in monthly and looks over the books and we have an auditor that will follow the whole project. A separate account will be established, the Bd. of Finance will review it. It will come in as a designated fund and go out as a capital expenditure. As far as the project manager, we are not ready to build it yet. If we raise the money, at another town meeting, we will come back with all of the particulars and options and we will go through this process again. There is enough interest in the town to go forward and seek funding so that we are not using Bethany taxpayer dollars.
John Boyce, 103 Peck Rd – The structure is long overdue for replacement. There is nothing about the present structure that is historic. The Bethany Airport is historic – it had the distinction of being the oldest airport in Connecticut until it closed in 1965.
A Slicer – The quansat hut is not historical but it is representative of the airport so that if we want to we can preserve the building on a landmark site. There is historical value and there will be opportunity to display items.
R. vonBeren – There are so many priorities that should be done before this project. There are roads and guard rails that need be done. The Central Firehouse? The Town Hall?
Moderator Thornquist – This money cannot be used for roads. It is a different fund entirely.
Lucy Painter, 40 No Humiston Dr – Why wouldn’t we be delighted to take advantage of an opportunity to acquire much needed space for the town? Why do we dwell on the economic situation today when it is all private money, and not town money?
June Riley, 32 Tuttle Ct- Our local parish has raised half a million dollars to restore and work on Christ Episcopal Church and that was only among church people. I don’t think it is impossible to raise the money.
Robert Grosso, 39 Farm View Rd – Has the town checked into taking out an annuity to increase the donations that the town might receive?
A. Slicer – that would not have been a part of our charge. We just felt that the town was growing in need for more facilities, not only for children but for adults as well.
Irma Nesson, 50 Oak Ridge Dr – The town is growing and we are all doing better. We have hard working committees who have done their homework and we can do this project and offer more to all of the townspeople. What is the problem?
B. Thornquist – If we don’t seek funding (and that will not cost us money), then we will just tear the building down (and that will cost us money). Before moving forward, will there be a town meeting to decide? Yes.
Don Shea – made a motion to vote by written ballot, duly seconded.
S Losty, Gaylord Mtn Rd – In favor of project. The town needs to engage people of all ages and to preserve a piece of history.
There was a motion by Shelly Losty, duly seconded to put the question to a paper ballot. In favor - 64 Against – 60. Passed.
There was no further discussion. The meeting was adjourned at 9:44 p.m.
Nancy A. McCarthy, CMC