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Letter: Shelve Darien's 'Shuffle' Project

DARIEN, Conn. – The following letter was submitted by Darien resident Susan Helms.

Thank you for this opportunity to ask the community to please support John Lundeen, Vickie Riccardo and David Bayne in the election on Nov. 8.

These candidates comprise a slate of tremendous intelligence, civility and fiscal prudence that we need for sensible stewardship of our town. A vote for their opposition guarantees you multiple needless building projects, a resulting hefty tax hike and a loss of other potential opportunities.

As a former RTM member, I cannot recall a more contrived, economically wasteful plan as “ the Shuffle ,” which promotes three building projects, at a cost of at least $12 million dollars and rising, in order to replace one building, our senior center (with, in my opinion – a poor basement and multilevel design without good handicap accessibility).  In addition, they are promoting the underutilization of the 35 Leroy site as Board of Ed offices, taking it off the tax rolls, and modifying it in a poor attempt to make it workable for the BOE. As previously identified in the town plan, 35 Leroy should be used as affordable housing. Or, sell it – let the market decide what should be built there and use the proceeds to build our Senior Center, either at its present location or at a new Town Hall site – a $0 net cost to us!

Investing our town capital in this “shuffle” instead of preserving it in anticipation of sensible projects, such as building sidewalks, flooding mitigation, senior care, improving our children’s education, bringing foreign language to our elementary schools, a town pool, etc., etc. – important future improvements that may be lost for lack of funds in reserve.

Don’t’ be fooled by “Mather Community Center” smoke and mirrors, so named in a transparent attempt to give the project more universal appeal, while duplicating the efforts of and competing with already-existing programs in organizations such as the YMCA, YWCA, Darien Library, the Darien Community Association, etc.

Why not do the homework first? Where is the 35 Leroy study that Dave Campbell so vocally promised, and that I voted for? Why is this irreversible error being shoved through the process without the foresight and research needed for this particular project, not to mention the apparent after-thought of promoting inappropriately dense affordable housing on Edgerton Street? Count our seniors who use the facility (it could be as easy as registering Senior Center users and giving them swipe cards to use, so both number of individuals, type and amount of usage is tabulated) so our seniors can have a comfortable, correctly sized facility – a place all their own.

Don’t let Stevenson/Campbell/Nielson shove their shuffle on you. It’s not too late to correct this misstep. Contact your RTM members and tell them to vote NO on the “shuffle shove.”

Please vote for John Lundeen for First Selectman, Vickie Riccardo and David Bayne for Board of Selectmen for fiscal responsibility.

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