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Letter: Hold on, That Edgerton Street Property Is Valuable

There are costs to losing the Edgerton property to senior housing, which is one reason why MariLu Cleary opposes the proposed Shuffle plan, she writes in a letter to the editor.

Wasteful spending of taxpayer money is never a good thing, no matter what the excuse. It is particularly offensive when people are suffering from economic hardship. I believe the "shuffle" represents first and foremost wasteful spending and I fully support the Stop the Shuffle effort.

As we approach Tuesday I have one final important observation which concerns the "third" stage of the shuffle: the use of the Edgerton property for senior affordable housing. I am a strong supporter of affordable housing for Darien. I also believe affordable housing should be balanced with other needs of the town. 

Darien owns two pieces of property that could be used for affordable housing: Edgerton, an eight-acre property adjacent to our Middle School (MMS); and 35 Leroy, a two-acre property adjacent to condominiums and houses, and walking distance to downtown Darien.

IF the town is truly committed to developing affordable housing, why would the choice be to give away property next to our school??? Currently, all the school buses for MMS run through the Edgerton property every morning and afternoon; the lower playing field adjacent to Edgerton property is used every afternoon until dusk and on the weekends; the site is also used for overflow parking for the many MMS nighttime and weekend events that occur at the school.

In the future, the town may find itself in a situation where we need to expand our schools. To me, leasing away this property would be debilitating to surrounding neighborhoods faced with overflow street parking today, and extremely short-sighted and severely limiting in the town's ability to address potential school needs in the future.

Clearly, 35 Leroy is a far better choice for affordable housing. (And in fact there exists a fully developed plan for the affordable housing at 35 Leroy, which was unfortunately singularly dismissed by the First Selectman in 2009 with no public discussion or debate).

I will vote No on Tuesday. Vote No to stop wasteful spending of taxpayer money; vote NO to stop unnecessary and expensive expansion of government services; vote NO to stop the loss of strategically important town property adjacent to our middle school; vote NO to STOP the shuffle.


MariLu Cleary

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Editor's note: Here are some Web links on this topic:

SHUFFLE REFERENDUM INFORMATION:

Websites for each camp:

From the town website:

Chris LaJaunie December 13, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Tony, none of the "options" listed on that website (the "non-," "half-," "un-" and "sort-of shuffle") is economically feasible or realistic if you do the math on them. The cost estimates listed in these options are unrealistically low and clearly have not been vetted by anyone with real estate experience. As been explained a number of times publicly, using 35 Leroy as a Senior Center does not work in its current configuration, and selling it is much more complicated because of the P&Z restrictions on zoning, density, the cost of actual development, and because the property is currently bonded. It is amusing, however, that three of the four options include building affordable apartments at 35 Leroy.
Tony Imbimbo December 13, 2011 at 10:29 PM
From today's Patch: "The town operating budget, which includes all other town expenditures, would increase from $37.3 million this fiscal year to $39.3 million in the next fiscal year, a $2 million increase. Most of that increase—$1.3 million—comes from debt service, including the controversial Shuffle plan. The shuffle plan would cost taxpayers an extra $263,000 as a first-year payment which would then only increase to more than $500,000 a year in the next four years." http://darien.patch.com/articles/state-of-the-town-b68e9caa Knowing that we can build a Senior Center for millions of dollars less, I think it's a shame to burden Darien taxpayers, including Darien's senior taxpayers to this degree. I'm just really glad this went to a referendum. If taxpayers want to incur the extra costs, they can. If not, they won't have to.
Tony Imbimbo December 13, 2011 at 10:41 PM
Chris, I guess I just disagree with you on each of your points. Perhaps if the Board of Selectmen had asked the architect for alternate plans, gotten appraisals, etc., you would have more confidence in these estimates. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. But it's not too late. It's not 8 PM yet. Also, the Shuffle includes affordable housing too -- at Edgerton Street, next to Middlesex Middle School, the playing fields, the bus traffic, the parking lots. That was the original point of this letter, I believe.
Joe Pankowski December 13, 2011 at 10:52 PM
@ Tony: a tip of the cap to you for fighting to the very end. I think your cause is misguided, of course, but the voters will tell us soon enough whether they wish to overturn the RTM's landslide vote.
donkeybuster December 14, 2011 at 04:18 AM
It's over. Darien seniors...present and future....always remember the Democrats wanted to make you wait longer. Looking at the money wasted on this referendum, I'm reminded of the scarecrow...."with the thoughts I'd be thinkin'...I could be another Lincoln....if I only had a brain."

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