The Salem News
---- — To the editor:
It seems that every time we have a chance to acquire land or there is some controversial application thereto, we use the ploy of nature walks, river walks, open space, or any kind of “walk in the woods” argument. If you look around it seems that we have already a tremendous amount of that type of facilities, if fact thousands of acres.
Let’s take the Patton property for example. Instead of building the 12 units as Mrs. Patton agreed to, we are pursuing a river walk. Well that would be nice. But... Most of the residents are trying to shout loud and clear that they want some sort of tax relief. If anything should have been realized from the Pirie town meeting it would be the fact that we do not want to go into a risky business and we need to ensure some sort of tax relief. Instead of realizing this, some members of the Board of Selectmen are rationalizing why their “good idea” failed. Bill Clinton once said “It’s the economy, stupid.” Just substitute the word tax for economy here. It was not the moderator’s fault, nor was it lack of education, nor was it the elitist group as some have indicated. The resounding defeat was due to the fact that the people did not want it. So here we go again with Patton, soccer fields, river walks etc. Building the 12 houses will generate approximately $100,000 in taxes a year and some one-time revenue of substantial size. This is risk-free, and puts us on a positive tax flow basis. Presently, the property is costing us about $80,000 a year to sustain (loss of tax and custodial services) and we still do not have a definitive plan. There is one in the mix, but it requires about a $400,000 to $500,000 investment in infrastructure and is a gamble for success. Apparently they, too, did not get the message from the Pirie town meeting. Maybe we could build the 12 houses and still put in the river walk, but the 12 houses should be number one priority.
I think it is time that the town adopt a practical approach to situations. This altruistic approach is not working. We just keep spending and spending on “nice things.”
Editor’s note: William Dery is a member of the Hamilton-Wenham School Committee.