I think we are all missing the point with regard to the upcoming September 24th Westfield bond referendum vote.
It’s not really whether we should or should not have a lit field or a turf field, or both. It’s not really about whether we need to have all of our school roofs simultaneously repaired – and whether the “repairs” are to ensure a safe roof above our child’s head or so it can support solar panels.
No, it’s really about whether the taxpaying residents of this town want to allow the board of education (BOE) to set a new precedent. That precedent would be to allow a “nice to have” to be bundled together with a supposed “need to have.”
I have been reading the letters to the editor, attending meetings, monitoring blogs and talking to fellow Westfielders about this issue for the past 100 days; and it seems that people are lining up on one of two sides: for the lit turf field or against it. However, I think it is more than that.
I would like us all to pause just for a second and take a brief step back and ask ourselves the following question: Do we think it is appropriate for the BOE to combine these two particular items into one referendum? Does that run against our better instincts? We seem to be a fiscallyconservative town, but we have a soft spot (rightfully so) for anything related to our kids and their education.
Is the BOE preying on that soft spot by lumping what we must acknowledge is a nice to have (lit turf field) with a possible need to have (roof repair)? Did the BOE know that there would be resistance to a lit turf field (on the basis of long-term fiscal, logistical, environmental, and homevalue depreciation concerns), so they added the roof project? The thought being, ‘If parents think a roof is about to collapse on Johnny’s head then they won’t fight grass being turned to turf and almost ten 80-foot lights being installed into the heart of the South Side.’ Something to think about.
For those of you who are vehemently against a lit turf field (whether it’s because you feel we have appropriate athletic facilities for our children or because your home’s value will be negatively impacted) your mind is made up and you will Vote No on September 24th. For those of you who are learning about this for the first time or are on the fence about how you will vote, I want you to know that you will not be doing your children or your town a disservice by voting No. What you will be doing is sending a message to the board of education that we (the tax-paying constituents) don’t agree to pork barreling. We don’t tolerate it with whom we elect and send to Trenton or Washington D.C., so why accept it locally? Especially when current and future residents will be footing the bill for decades to come!
By voting NO, you will be telling the BOE to show courage and come back to us in April or September 2013 with separate bond referendums (one dealing with roof repairs and perhaps one asking for financing for enhancements or improvement to the field behind the high school). You will be telling the BOE that in these choppy economic times we need to be fully educated and better sold on why we need to go further in debt as a town to pay for these separate items. Don’t you think we deserve that?
By voting Yes on September 24th, you will be sending the message that we the people are nothing but rubber stamps when it comes to our local elected officials putting us further in debt – without fully explaining why.
By voting No on September 24th, you will be asking the BOE to make a better case in 2013 for why these two separate projects need to be funded.