(Host) Rutland voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide again whether to go ahead with a $4 million recreation facility.
Residents approved the proposal on Town Meeting Day. But as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, opponents of the project got enough signatures to put the measure back on the ballot.
(Keck) Officials in Rutland have been talking about the need for improved indoor recreation facilities since the 1970s.
But local residents haven’t been able to agree on how much to spend or what sort of facilities they want.
Over the last several years, a number of proposals have been floated unsuccessfully.
This past March, however, voters said, ‘Yes,’ to a $3.9 million plan that would relocate the city’s recreation department to nearby Georgetti Park and expand existing facilities there.
But opponents got enough signatures to put the item back on the ballot. Virginia Duffy says considering the economy and the city’s high tax rate, now is not the time to spend millions on recreation.
She says city officials need to focus on attracting new businesses and fixing aging water and sewer infrastructure.
(Duffy) "It is lower taxes and job opportunities that draw people to a community. And I feel we’re putting the cart before the horse here. You don’t keep adding to a structure if you don’t have a solid foundation."
(Keck) But Alderman Sean Sargent says better recreation facilities will help Rutland attract new businesses and new residents.
(Sargent) "Nobody asks, ‘How old are the water pipes in the ground?’ or, ‘How old are the sewer pipes in the ground.’ They ask, ‘What are my children going to do and what type of education system do you have and what type of recreation system do you have that my children can participate in.’"
(Keck) Sargent says low interest and construction rates make this a good time to build and he says for a Rutland resident with a $150,000 home, the cost of the bond will be about 15 dollars a year.
Rutland Mayor Chris Louras, who’s in favor of the proposal, points out that this is not an either/or proposition.
He says the city can address its aging water and sewer pipes as well as take on a 20-year bond for new recreational facilities. Both sides of the issue are hoping for a big turnout.
For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.
(Host) Polls are open in Rutland from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday.