Town officials may take summer residents on tours of dilapidated facilities
The Town Council may provide unusual activities for summer residents, according to a recent meeting exchange. Talking about the need to budget for both repair and replacement of town facilities and equipment, the councilors said they might offer tours of the island's sights of dilapidation, especially for seasonal residents who are least aware of the town's needs.
"We could have open house for all townspeople so they can see the disgrace we've been talking about," Councilor Michael Schnack said.
The topic started out with a review of what has been done with ball fields this season and what still needs to be done. "We've got a ways to go," Councilor William Kelly said. "Now is the time to plan for next year," he added.
The possibility of the unresort like attractions evolved from review of counilors' own tour a year ago to acquaint the three new council members with the town's ramshackle facilities. Councilor Barbara Szepatowski said all town properties should be revisited at least annually.
Councilors credited last year's tour with their aggressiveness in developing a budget, passed in early June by voters, to replace some equipment and provide some property maintenance. They said much still needs to be done and affirmed the tour as a way to renew their commitments to the goal of better facilities. They concluded tours could be used to instill residents with such commitments.
Several months ago, Szepatowski suggested another review of the disarray of town facilities, and suggested a volunteer corps to work on the problem. The workers would be the offspring of the volunteer team she was amassing for her pet project, which is to create a town facility for needy animals on the island. She has since channeled some of that energy into a teen center.
Meanwhile, her idea about volunteers to repair town buildings was set aside because of possible territorial claims over the work.
Kelly then suggested a weekly bus tour of town facilities to convince taxpayers about the need to adequately provide for building maintenance. He has been trying to organize an auction of unneeded town vehicles, equipment, and various devices that are currently littering town buildings and grounds.
Many town employees and some residents see building upkeep as the most-often shortchanged account in the town budget process. "It can wait another year" frequently has been the rationale.
Councilors have often lamented the deteriorating condition of "our employees' daily workplace."
Schnack said months ago, "We've been penny wise and pound foolish with our buildings. I'm appalled. Our assets now are our liabilities. We must stop trimming the budget. It feels great to not raise taxes. Now we have crumbling buildings. We might as well plow them into the ocean."
The council delegated Town Administrator Bruce Keiser to draft tour options for themselves and for residents.
In a related matter, the councilors reviewed details of the recently received $160,000 grant to be used for the new Fort Getty master plan. They credited Town Planner Lisa Bryer with drafting the successful grant application.