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The question of placing a Public Works facility on town-owned Tabor property remains.
At the Jan. 16 Board of Selectmen's (BOS) meeting, First Selectman Anthony "Unk" DaRos (D) said, due to the need to continue to address residents' concerns, he has no plans this month to forward to the Board of Finance (BOF) a recommendation to approve funding a $325,000 design plan for Public Works on 10 acres off Tabor Drive. The recommendation was approved by the BOS on Nov. 8; when DaRos and Second Selectman Andy Campbell (D) voted in favor of Tabor due to its being the Public Works Building Committee's site recommendation. Third Selectman Jamie Cosgrove (R) voted against.
On Jan. 16, DaRos answered Cosgrove's query about whether the funding recommendation would go to the BOF this month.
"No," said DaRos, saying, "There's these concerns that these neighbors have. If we can't address the concerns, then we'll be looking at something else."
However, DaRos added, he felt it was only right to continue to also consider the committee's Tabor site recommendation, because the group had done its due diligence as requested by the town, "and out of respect to that, I think [the Tabor recommendation] should be thoroughly digested before we reject it."
Also on Jan. 16, the BOS heard a resident's proposal to remake the entire 77-acre Tabor parcel into a town-owned, revenue-generating 18-hole golf course and country club. Jacey Wyatt, a landscape architect, shared her findings and design ideas. She felt the course could be installed at an estimated cost of $2.5 million and could return revenues of $2 to $4 million annually (based on averaging 40,000 rounds of golf per year, 240 days a year, at $59 per round). Her design plan also includes a Senior Center with Club House (generating additional revenue with event rentals) and opportunities to develop recreational hiking trails, tennis courts, and more. In addition, Wyatt shared her cost analysis and renderings in support of a new Public Works at the Town Transfer Station site. (See the story and Wyatt's supporting documents and designs plans at www.zip06.com/branford.)
DaRos thanked Wyatt for her input and responded to a question from Representative Town Committee (RTM) member Marc Riccio (R) as to whether the golf course idea had "any legs."
"As far as I'm concerned it has legs," answered DaRos, "but we brought in a committee to do their work, like every other town does, and like we've always done in the past?and if we can't address these neighbors' concerns, then we'll have to do something else. But that's what we're studying now, first of all. I want to know these neighbors' concerns and how we're going to address them and what any alternatives would be. So we've got a ways to go."
DaRos also noted of Wyatt's proposals, "I don't believe these show some of the drawbacks that we have on some of the present properties, particularly the Transfer Station," such as wetlands and slopes. But, DaRos added, such problems "can be addressed with a simple study."
At the same meeting, RTM member Ray Ingraham (R) presented an update on a petition started in early December 2012 and signed by those opposing Public Works at Tabor.
"Right now we're at 577 people that are opposed, and steadily growing as the weeks go on," said Ingraham.
District 5. He noted the petition had 338 District 5 voters signed on, followed mainly by
District 7 and District 1 voters, who live in other areas affected by Tabor land use. Ingraham also pointed out the opposition isn't politically divided. He said area Republicans and Democrats have signed the petition opposing Public Works at Tabor in numbers along "what we would call our normal registration lines.
"Opposition is trending; the numbers are moving up and increasing with very little work to get that," Ingraham added. "It's not something where you're doing a steady drum beat and asking people to sign things they don't know anything about. They're approaching us."