Resident not in favor of $2.5 million expense at Yates Town Park
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard numerous good reasons for the Town of Yates to abandon its $2.5 million planned expansion of the Yates Town Park.
But there are really 612 exceptional reasons to halt this ill-advised boondoggle – 612 is the current student enrollment at Lyndonville Schools.
As this letter is being written, school officials and the Board of Education are developing the 2020-21 school budget. The gorilla in the room during these discussions is New York’s projected budget shortfall of $6 billion (billion with a B) dollars. One of the biggest items in the state’s budget is state aid to schools. For Lyndonville, state aid is the largest revenue item. Virtually every dollar of lost state aid is replaced by Lyndonville taxpayers.
Town fathers are quick to point out that the bulk of the $2.5 million comes from the state, leaving Yates taxpayers to contribute only $125,000. But on a town general fund budget of about $1.5 million, that’s a big percentage increase in taxes.
Then there’s the increased annual operating expense. Early ballpark guesses are up to the $20,000 range. But with the town’s track record in handling its finances, that number could easily double. (Refer to the blistering October 2018 NYS Comptroller’s audit report on the Town’s poor financial management.)
The Town Board has a “task force” trying to rush through a coherent plan for the $2.5 million endeavor. An expansive pair of piers jutting hundreds of feet into the lake with walkways and navigation lights comes and goes; a concrete kayak launching dock/ramp; an enclosed pavilion with modern rest rooms; hiking trails (originally ten feet wide, then five feet wide, then back to ten feet).
Security? One Town Councilman suggests a state of the art remotely monitored TV spy system. And gates controlling access. The next task force meeting is scheduled at the Town Hall for Monday, February 10, at 5:30 p.m. Do not expect to be able to voice your opinion during this meeting until the meeting is adjourned. A Town Board workshop follows immediately
A public forum to present the plan is currently scheduled for Thursday, February 13. You can view the latest version of the project and hopefully voice your opinion. The Town Engineer has to submit his first report to the state the next day. The Town Board would vote on the project no later than March 16.
Right now, the best thing to do is email the town supervisor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask him to put the brakes on this unnecessary project and send that $2.5 million state aid to our 612 students.
Ralph E. Smith