Union citizens, please consider all the information before you vote
Before I write this letter I want to point out that I am a member of the TCC working group and a member of the Thompson Memorial Association. I am writing as a citizen of Union and not as a member of either group. I don’t want the voters to be deceived and I want them to know the truth as I know it.
If you as a citizen of Union are thinking of voting no on article 2-5 and voting yes on Article 6 because you have heard that we can have a brand new Community Center on the old BM Clark property for $257,000 don’t be deceived. let me point out a few things.
1. The existing Thomaston Community Center, (the brick gymnasium and classrooms) that will be renovated and serve as a community Center is 12,500 square feet.
2. The building that a gentleman in town is proposing can be built for $257,000 is the size of a large house 2,400 square feet. That is just over 5 times smaller than the existing community center.
The $257,000 price tag does not include the following items: A foundation, a well, a sprinkler system, fire alarm system, a septic system, site work, electrical entrance, parking or outside lighting. These will cost the tax payers money. All of that work is not free and not included in the $257,000.
In the end It is still only a 2,400 square foot building. It will take two of them to be the size of the gym. So, no basket ball no pickle ball no stage, no flea markets or craft fairs. No concerts or dance recitals. Even more space will be lost when you consider two handicapped bathrooms an office, small snack bar and entrance.
3. The existing community Center will need to be renovated the cost is projected to be $3.8 million . There will be some taxpayer dollars needed but that does not mean that the taxpayers will pay $3.8 million. If articles 2-5 are voted for in the affirmative then the plan is to find a developer to turn the Yellow building (old Union School) into senior housing. Union needs Senior housing. The location is ideal for Senior housing.
Once articles 2-5 pass and a developer is found, the grant writing process will begin immediately to generate revenue to renovate the existing Community Center. Work can begin. There is approximately $250,000 set aside that can be used as seed money for these grants.
Once the senior housing project is complete and the renovated building now worth approximately $9 million will go on the tax roles. This will be in 3-5 years. The taxes on that property will be approximately $139,000 per year. The TIF program that will be voted through in articles 2-5 will allow approximately half of those taxes or approximately $70,000 per year to be used to maintain the Community Center. This TIF program is good for 30 to 40 years.
Remember, when the existing Community Center is done we the citizens of Union will have a 12,500 square foot building. That’s 5.2 times larger than the 2,400 square foot one that you have been hearing about. Remember the price that you are being told does not include all of those other hidden costs. Don’t be fooled.
4. If 2-5 do not pass and 6 does, the Selectmen now have the ability to dispose of the buildings as they see fit.
Three selectmen voting together can decide the fate of the buildings. Tearing them down is not free. The latest estimates are about $500,000 taxpayer dollars. If they sell it, they can sell it for what ever they want to whom ever they want. Time would only tell what might go in there. It is a great location.
For those of you who don’t know, the Brick building was built in 1951. Augustus Thompson, the inventor of the soft drink Moxie, built the building to be a monument to the Thompson Family.
Descendents of Mr. Thompson still live in Union today.
When it was built it was to be a school for the Town of Union. It was to remain a school until such time that it was no longer needed by the Town as a school. It was then supposed to be kept as a Community Center for the Town.
When the new gym opened in 1951 it was the crown jewel of the area. Basketball players couldn’t wait to come play ball in the new gym.
The building has served the community well over the years as a school and as a Community Center. Very little has been given back to it over the years but it is still here I guess it has a lot of Moxie.
Please consider all of these factors when you go to vote.
Abraham Knight lives in Union