Letter: Don’t Cut Corners in Hartford
To the Editor:
The bids to renovate the Barwood Arena came in at $3.5 million, not $2.9 million — in other words, $1 million over budget, not “a roughly $500,000 shortfall.” The original plans presented to the town during the bond discussions last year included razing the existing locker rooms and constructing new larger ones in their place, along with several other items. Only by removing that work does the actual bid for the rink of $3.1 million become $2.48 million. Add the $400,000 for the utility work, and you have $3.5 million.
The whole idea behind the renovations is to make the rink more usable, and therefore more likely to cover its full cost of operations and to serve as a magnet attracting new residents to town. If we go forward with a stripped-down version of the renovations, we will not be buying what we were sold. We will not get the benefits that we expect, and we’ll just be wasting our money.
Similar shortfalls and cost cutting are seen for the track, turf and fieldhouse work the school district is responsible for. When those bids are all in, we could see a “shortfall” of more than $1.5 million.
At the root of all this was our unwillingness to spend tens of thousands of dollars to professionally investigate all the costs associated with these projects. We must not be critical of the citizen committee that came up with the estimates; we should instead accept the reality that we should have asked for approval of an $11.9 million bond instead of an $8.9 million bond, and go back to Town Meeting this winter with a $3 million supplemental bond for the joint town-school recreation-facility enhancements.
If we can’t do these projects the right way the first time, we shouldn’t do them at all. I think Hartford does want these projects done well and believe the town will support a supplemental bond.
F. X. Flinn