Letters to the Editor
Published 1:20 pm, Thursday, September 29, 2011
Fresh Air Fund: Fun
for children and hosts:
This year, 119 New York City children found out once again just how special summer is in the Southwest Coast area. Fresh Air Fund hosts, volunteers and local supporters dedicated their time and efforts to help these inner-city youngsters experience simple summertime pleasures, including afternoons of swimming, fishing at sunset and roasting s'mores over a campfire.
None of this would be possible without Yvette Eenkema van Dijk, your local Fresh Air Fund volunteer leader, who works throughout the year to make sure host families and children have the opportunity to enjoy memorable summertime experiences together. I invite you to join Yvette Eenkema van Dijk and the local Fresh Air Fund committee to help spread the word about the wonderful opportunity of hosting next summer.
On behalf of all of us at The Fresh Air Fund, including the thousands of children who benefit from Fresh Air programs, I would also like to thank you for the terrific exposure you gave The Fresh Air Fund in New Canaan News this year by featuring our Volunteer Host Family Program in your community. The coverage supports the efforts of Yvette Eenkema van Dijk and our local volunteer leaders to recruit more dedicated host families who open their homes to New York City children for up to two weeks during the summer. By sharing wonderful summer memories with your readers, you have helped to spread the word to other potential supporters, who keep our programs flourishing in your area.
More InformationFact box
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. For more information on how you can help to continue this wonderful tradition of volunteering, please call Yvette Eenkema van Dijk at 203-655-2226 or visit www.freshair.org.
Notes on the Shuffle
from a concerned resident
Regarding the Shuffle:
1. Shuffle cost estimates provided by our first selectman understate the likely total cost by at least $4.2 million, which was the purchase price of 35 Leroy.
2. Suggestions by Shuffle proponents that current town bonding prohibits the sale of 35 Leroy are false. The general obligation bond issued to fund the purchase of 35 Leroy is supported solely by property tax collections.
3. Our needed new senior center should be of sufficient size to serve demonstrated current and future demand. The BOS-retained architect proposes a 23,000-square-foot senior center by asserting that Darien's 55-plus population will grow by 80 percent by 2030. U.S. Census data, however, confirms the number and proportion of Darien senior citizens has remained remarkably constant since at least 1980.
4. The Shuffle's cost must also include $300,000 for demolition and environmental remediation at Edgerton Street.
5. A more accurate estimate of the Shuffle's total cost is $11.5 million for 43,453 square feet of improved space or $265 psf, which is very expensive.
Each component of the Shuffle must stand on its own merit. No business would undertake an $11.5 million capital project with such a flimsy economic rationale. Neither should Darien.
Thanks for making
road race a success
We want to express our sincere thanks to all our wonderful friends in Darien who made the 32nd annual Darien Road Race on Sunday, Sept. 18, such a great success.
Since we began in 1979, this event has attracted over 11,000 runners who have run in either the 10K or 1.5-mile "Loop," more than 3,100 volunteers (both adults and young people who have helped before the event and on race day), and thousands of spectators who live along the route or just like to come down to Pear Tree Point Beach to encourage the runners and participate in the fun.
We are proud to say we have raised more than $900,000 for our causes. For the past four years, all proceeds have gone to cancer services and social service organizations that serve people in and around Darien -- the Bennett Center of Stamford Hospital, the Whittingham Cancer Center of Norwalk Hospital and The Community Fund of Darien.
We welcomed 15 sponsors this year, including our long-standing major sponsor for more than years, Halstead Property, who also manned one of our water stations out on the course. Our other sponsors include: Atria Darien; Equinox; BMW of Darien; Tibbetts, Keating and Butler Attorneys-at-Law; David Osherow, DDS; Heights Pizza; Merrill Lynch; Christine Hamilton-Hall, DMD, MD; Lucy; Methodist Family Center Preschool; The Moore Center for Rehabilitation; the Darien Lions Club; TD Bank; and The Little Gym.
Friends of the race who contributed in-kind services include: 95.9 The Fox; Darien Boat Club; Leggitt Associates; Pepsi, Crystal Rock; The Goose; Runners Roost; Darien Nature Center; Pear Tree Point School; and Taylor Rental.
Our committee this year was just top notch and included Hank Morgan; Joan Hewson; Laurie Anderson; Suzanne Schintzius; Christie Stone; Sylvia Spitalnick; Lisa Stout; and Jane Ott. We also had a fabulous group of more than 100 volunteers, including 36 students from the Depot Teen Center.
The Darien Road Race is a cooperative and collaborative community effort. All who participated are to be congratulated for their generous individual and collective contributions of time and donations to make this the fun event that it is. It is the people in our community who make our community what it is, and we extend our heart-felt thanks to all of you for making the 32nd Darien Road Race a great success.
Mary Green and Barb Simms
Co-Chairen, 2011 Darien Road Race Committee
`Unite' takes on a different meaning
Against a background of constant and rancorous bickering in Washington, D.C., I was heartened by the desire for bi-partisanship as expressed in the campaign themes of both Republicans and Democrats: the Republicans, "We Are United" and the Democrats, "Darien Working Together." However, on reading their respective platforms I was dismayed that the Republican team of Stevenson, Campbell and Nielsen wanted simply to unite their party, whereas the Democratic team of Lundeen, Bayne and Riccardo were pledging to work together for all of Darien
This perhaps indicates why on all the major issues of the last two years, the Board of Selectmen has split 3-2 strictly on party lines with the majority making no attempt to arrive at a consensus. As a consequence, we may be on the verge of spending big dollars on the Shuffle, turning the Republican reputation for fiscal responsibility on its head. In contrast, in the previous administration headed by Evonne Klein, major issues were often decided in a bi-partisan manner.
Darien is not just Republican. It also has significant numbers of Independents and Democrats. So, in November, I will be voting for the team of John Lundeen, David Bayne and Vickie Riccardo, in the hope that we can all work together.
Darien needs transparency
in new government
It's time for a change in our town -- for an open, honest, transparent government.
Too often the current administration has left town residents in the dark on important issues -- on the senior housing "shuffle," on affordable housing projects, and on flood-
control efforts. The people of this town need direct answers to our questions: How much will this cost? When will it be done? Instead, taxpayers are paying for projects that we are told little about.
The slowing down of planning has been the method of choice for dealing with issues that the current administration wished would go away. And instead of focusing on the needs of Darien as a whole, this administration has focused instead on "uniting the Republican party" -- how about uniting the whole town -- Republican, Democrat and Independent--with transparency and follow-through?
With John Lundeen, David Bayne and Vickie Riccardo, we can expect just that -- as First Selectman, Lundeen promises to support open debate of all points of view on an issue, instead of silencing others with a gavel.
Darien deserves a transparent, open government. Let's choose one.
Republican slate deserves second term
When Dave Campbell, Jerry Nielsen and Jayme Stevenson ran for the Board of Selectmen in 2009, they promised to tackle the challenges facing Darien, and voters responded overwhelmingly in their favor. What I hear now from people in town is that they appreciate the upholding of this pledge, especially concerning thornier town issues which seemed to defy resolution in the past.
Successes over the last two years include achieving an affordable housing moratorium, restoring the fireworks tradition, obtaining a practical compromise for town clean-up days, and addressing a dire need for a new senior center, while simultaneously making more efficient use of properties already owned by the town. It's noteworthy that Dave, Jerry and Jayme's proposed facilities move also creates a much-awaited opportunity for affordable senior housing in town.
Under Jayme Stevenson, I look forward to having this positive momentum continue. I have known Jayme for 10 years and worked with her on the Royle School PTO and the Council of Darien School Parents. Her leadership style then, and now, is pragmatic, inclusive and focused on delivering results.
Please join me in voting for Jayme Stevenson for first selectman, and Dave Campbell and Jerry Nielsen for selectmen on Nov. 8.
Shuffle raises more questions for the town
As the Board of Selectman presents its facilities transfer proposal, it's important to outline some facts related to the acquisition of 35 Leroy Ave.
In 2007, during a presentation in front of the RTM, Darien's former first selectman (Evonne Klein) outlined the "extraordinary opportunity to vote `yes' to purchase the library property (35 Leroy)." It noted that the BOS unanimously agreed that the purchase was: "Consistent with the use in the Town Plan; Controls the use and development; Offers town support for the new library; Is the No. 1 priority of the BOS -- to acquire land and; The purchase has broad community support for the acquisition."
Even though the BOS wished to use property for affordable housing, not one board, commission or the RTM included it as a condition of final approval. The plan faced significant push back -- as some opposed called for the sale of the property. Yet, the BOS rightfully dismissed this idea.
The Darien Times reported on Sept. 4, 2008, that "the selectmen nixed two other uses -- upscale senior housing and selling the property because they don't result in some public advantage." The first selectman stated "municipal needs should be the focus in assessing uses rather than what is the best use of this site."
The BOS outlined its plan via its presentation to the RTM on Sept.22, 2008 which included the following:
Only public uses were considered for the site;
Why? Municipalities typically purchase land for a public benefit;
A public use results in some public advantage, benefit or enhancement of public welfare;
Sale of the property at this point delivers no real public benefit;
Sale in an adverse market would likely require a long holding period and carrying costs or sale at a loss to the taxpayer;
The current BOS is now pursuing different course for 35 Leroy which will serve a municipal need for Darien as part of it facilities transfer plan. This plan has also attracted its critics -- ironically, also calling for the sale of the property. Yet, the arguments for the sale are as flawed now as they were three years ago.
John Sini Jr.
The writer is a member of the RTM's Planning, Zoning, and Housing Committee and is the Treasurer of the Republican Town Committee.
Re-elect David Bayne
to Board of Selectmen
I am writing to express my strong support for the re-election of David Bayne as selectman.
David exemplifies the very best qualities of the many men and women who so unselfishly give of their time and talents in the service of our town.
I encourage my fellow neighbors to vote in support of David's re-election as selectman.
Elect Ricardo for BOS
Based on my experience working directly with Vickie Ricardo for almost two years on the Charter Revision Commission I know that she will bring passion, thoughtfulness and fairness to her work if she is elected selectman.
I worked with Vickie on the Charter Revision Commission in which she did an excellent job as the Chairperson. The commission was made up of many strong personalities, and Vickie was able to lead us, make sure we were all heard, and that we worked together.
Vickie's greatest strength came when the proposed charter was released to the public. Vickie made sure all of the citizens voices were heard, and the commission took into account everything that was said.
Vickie's work was tireless. She spent many nights on her own and with other commission members writing and editing the proposed charter.
The fact that she was on the Charter Revision Commission indicates that she knows the way the town should be run and what is expected of a selectman, as well as how the selectman work with all the other boards and the RTM.
Vickie is very dedicated to the town of Darien and public service and I will vote for her in November.
David L. Young
Jayme for Darien and a better Connecticut
In a recent issue of Barrons, Connecticut was listed as one of the worst states in the country with regard to fiscal health and overall credit rating, (behind three other poorly managed states: Alabama; Arkansas; and Colorado). To make matters worse, Gov. Malloy's administration has bucked the belt-tightening trend witnessed across the country with a budget that increases spending and raises taxes significantly impacting Fairfield County. Connecticut already has the highest percentage of tax-based debt to GDP among all 50 states -- 10.8 percent.
A recent annual survey completed by the largest business association in the state (Connecticut Business and Industry Association), has also highlighted a lack of confidence among business owners who say the tax hike will deter them from hiring.
Although the rest of the state is headed in the wrong direction, Darien is not thanks to our proven team of selectmen soon to be headed by Jayme Stevenson. Through efficient long range planning this team continues to bring professional transparent leadership that benefits all residents through creative affordable solutions to town issues.
Support Jayme on Nov. 8 for Darien and a better Connecticut.