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: Great News for Fairfax Townspeople Regarding A Community Center-Show Support!  ( 9011 )
Sr. Member
: 304

« : September 30, 2015, 08:13:00 PM »

Hello Neighbors,

Some of us received an email from Susannah Chamberlin, President of Citizens For Fairfax Community.

BUT we must show our SUPPORT To the Select Board Committee by attending the meeting scheduled on October 19th.

"Come to the Selectboard meeting on October 19th at the BFA elementary gymnasium at 6PM to show your support.  We need a lot of people to turn out (160 to 200) to convince the Selectboard that it's not just a few folks who want the Baptist Building to be taken over by the Town and turned into a community center.  So let your friends and neighbors know and let's have a great turnout!   If you are unable to attend but want to show your support, please e-mail the Selectboard at:    SB@fairfax-vt.gov"

My opinion is we need a community Center to promote a strong community. We have to ability to provide resources and programs for all residents, old and young alike. We have talents, experience , knowledge and resources to support our young,,with fun and exciting confidence- building  activities. A Community Center is for sharing. It is the bridge to a strong and vibrant community.

Please come and show the Select Board your support for this generous opportunity!

BELOW  is more information to read and share with others and please don't hesitate to call if you have questions.

Susannah Chamberlin, President CFC
« : September 30, 2015, 08:45:41 PM nancyd »
Hero Member
: 870

« #1 : October 01, 2015, 08:24:20 AM »

Let me first say that I'm absolutely in favor of the town accepting this donation for many reasons... However there are a couple things that I feel haven't been addressed sufficiently:

1) Upkeep and maintenance costs- If I remember correctly it was estimated that it would be somewhere around $4,000/year for utilities?  If we have this resource it really should be utilized to its full extent, year round.  This will no doubt result in greatly increased costs, probably 3 times that amount, for heat, electricity and water/sewer.
2) Regardless of what grants may or may not come through, there will undoubtedly be maintenance costs associated.  Something as simple as exterior painting would run many thousands of dollars and needs to be budgeted.
3) My understanding is that a municipality cannot enter into a multi-year agreement without voter approval.  While I think it's important that the Select Board act as soon as possible and give a non-binding "Yes we're interested" or "No we're not" decision, I don't think a legal decision on assuming ownership can happen without voter approval.

I absolutely support this initiative and will definitely vote in favor of it but I would like to see a much more detailed and accurate plan for how it will need to be maintained and the associated costs- even if that means hiring an outside agency to give an unbiased assessment.


"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." -Jackie Robinson
David Shea
Sr. Member
: 471

« #2 : October 01, 2015, 08:33:44 AM »

I was on the Selectboard when this idea was first presented.  In principal I believe the building should be preserved, that being said at what cost.  The estimates that were given to the board three years ago to bring the building up to current ADA standards was north of $500,000.00.  Where will this revenue come from?  Have engineers been hired to evaluate the building, traffic studies completed, is the current water and sewer allocation sufficient to support the change of use.  ( last I knew the water department was out of water? , Maybe the town has special allocations in reserve for town use?)

It has been said that the recreation department will fund raise to pay for the repairs to the building.  It takes a lot of activities to fund raise 1/2 a million dollars.  If fundraising for the project fails who's responsibility will it be to fix the building.  Currently the recreation department's overhead is completely funded by taxpayer dollars.   The money in the rec special account, $100,000.00  doesn't go toward paying salaries or overhead, it is there to improve the program.  Will this money be used toward the improvements to the Baptist Building?

There have been several projects that have been started by recreation that have taken a long time to finish or still have not been started.  The public restrooms at the recreation path took a long time with primarily volunteer help.  Fairfax also has 100 acres of recreational woodland in North Fairfax.  The plan was for the parking area to improved and trails cut, this was three years ago.  The project has not been started yet.

By state statue, all towns have a primary responsibility to fix and repair our infrastructure.  That means keeping our roads, bridges, buildings and equipment maintained.  The town need to stay focused on these things and complete the projects we have started before taking on more.   Additionally the private water utility in Fairfax is loosing money on a monthly basis.  How does this tie into the Baptist Building?  When the Water Utility was bonded for water system upgrades the Town of Fairfax had to secure the bond.  If the system fails by way of lost revenue, major equipment failures, water wells gets polluted, sand filter in the water storage towers needs to be replaced and the utility can not afford to pay for it, guess who pays?  The taxpayers outside of the water district will need to pay even though we are not users on the system.  Why?  Because the town secured the bond.  The improvements to the system are 25 years old & so it the pump in the well.  

Milton, VT has been going through a similar process with the Stannard House.  The articles detailing that can be found here:  http://www.miltonindependent.com/tag/stannard-house/  Maybe Fairfax should contact the Milton board to see how they have handled this challenge?
David Shea
Sr. Member
: 471

« #3 : October 01, 2015, 09:07:29 AM »

I'd also like to add that for several years the Fairfax Selectboard work diligently to convince the voters to approve the building of a new town office building.  The primary reasons that necessitated the move were, the cost to bring the old school house up to current ADA Codes, lack of space, the small size of the vault, mold in the basement and lack of parking.  Cost estimates to fix the building were in the mid $300,000.00 range.  The rest is history we borrowed the money and built a 1,000,000.00 new building.

Before I can support this project a complete business plan needs to be formulated including how it will be executed and the fall back plan if fund raising falls short.  What are the new programs that will be started in the building, what are the cost & projected profits?  How will parking and traffic flow from the building be handled. 

I too would like to save the Bellows Farm and Buildings, Hiram Bellows built the original BFA and the water system that supplied the school.  There still is a Bellows Trust that provides a scholarship to one BFA student per year.  That property is a historic icon of Fairfax that also need the support of the town.  How many of these building can we save and still maintain our existing roads, buildings and equipment without putting an undue burden on our taxpayers?
Hero Member
: 1744

« #4 : October 01, 2015, 11:57:06 AM »

David I don't have time to put all the answers in writing this minute as I have a busy couple days of work. I WILL come back and complete, but feel you are misrepresenting the Rec Dept.

I can appreciate that you were on the select board, however you forget to input the fact that we use the special fund account for matching grant dollars. We have grants available to use (Which was given to all the select board members) to repair the Baptist Building. If it is made a municipality building, it gives us the options to apply for those grants available to municipalities.  We also can apply for grants as a historical building and then also as a Rec Park. 

The 100 acre woods is done thru grants, we had an issue that stopped us in our tracks last summer (this is nothing we did wrong, but a consultant giving incorrect information and we had to get this all cleared up to move forward) and we are on our now 3rd director in a year and Colin is getting everything taken care of so this project can move forward as early as this fall or next summer.  As any project, sometimes delays occur that are out of our hands.

As for the Pavilion, We had some delays due to work scheduled to be completed.  These are our local community business folks and they too have projects that get delayed, personal tragedy, etc...  So as much as we all wanted it to be done yesterday, it was out of our hands.  That is unless you would like to donate time or discounted materials Dave....We are trying to not hit the tax payers for any of this.  Which in my opinion, if it takes us longer, and we don't affect the tax payers is a win win.  Again if you would like these done ASAP, feel free to give us more tax payers $$.

Finally the Baptist Building is something the Fairfax Rec & Park have presented that they would take responsibility of the Building.  This means by acquiring it would mean no tax increase to take over the building.  We see a ton of potential and a way to make money with the building.

For example, The YMCA is at capacity at the school and we have a letter (That was also included in our presentation to the Select Board) that they would love to utilize the building for the after school and summer programs.  This is a great revenue generator alone.

Then there is the fact the Fire Department is donating a Furnace they are not using to heat the building. 

We also will be able to rent the building out as the Rec Park and at this time it is very hard for community members to find a place to have an event of any kind. From a Hunter's Breakfast, Bingo, Weddings, Birthday Parties, etc. and also a place for the Rec Park to do events in the Winter Months for all ages. This is all revenue generating opportunities to the Rec Park and provide a location and services to the community.

This is just a short summary as we have much more information regarding ALL of our projects.

Please ask us and don't rely on years old information or rumors. 
Colin Santee is at the Town Office (802)849-6111 ext. 20 and always willing to answer questions.

Mary Kay Raymond
Vice Chair Park & Recreation Board

« : October 01, 2015, 02:38:23 PM mkr »

"Life is too short, so love the one you got!"
Rev. Elizabeth
Hero Member
: 1286

« #5 : October 01, 2015, 01:50:22 PM »

Thank you, Mary Kay, for your very reasonable and patient response to the queries.  Many good things have been done and are being done in the town by the recreation department, and good things cannot be accomplished over night, especially when time, labor, materials are often being donated.  I applaud the work that they are doing. And, insofar as the Baptist Building goes, it would be a coup for the town to acquire it, as it is one of the few remaining historical sites that define us as Fairfax, and though it may take time, many benefits will accrue from its use as a community center, aside from monetary ones.
Mark Hunziker
: 45

« #6 : October 04, 2015, 10:13:38 AM »

Quite a few Fairfax residents have been involved in trying to secure a venue for community activities for about six years now. We created the nonprofit corporation “Citizens for Fairfax Community” (CFC) in order to apply for grants for the project. (Some grants are available only to municipalities, while others are given only to nonprofits.) The same need has been on the Rec. Dept’s. radar for several years as well, and doing something to address the need has been on its agenda, waiting only for other projects, such as the Rec. Field and its facilities, to be completed.

When CFC and the Rec. Dept. became aware that the Baptist building’s owners are willing to donate the building for use as a community center, it was decided that it would be best if the Town took ownership—primarily because it could then be included in the insurance coverage that the Town already carries.

Several good questions have been raised on this forum, and as someone who has been involved in CFC’s efforts from the beginning, I can at least partially address most of them. The Select board has looked into it and it turns out that this is something that they can legally do without a town-wide vote. The question for some Board members is whether they feel comfortable doing so.

We’ve had every conceivable assessment and inspection done on the building: by architects, historical preservation experts, contractors of every specialty, the fire marshal, and a structural engineer. These have included cost estimates. Maintenance, repairs, and upgrades costs have been worked-up into fact-based phasing timetables; and these will continue to be refined and adjusted as we go along.
Granted, no one can predict the future. Successful businesses create projected budgets, knowing that they’ll need to revise them as income, overhead, and expenses become known quantities. The best estimates for this project indicate that it can easily be self-supporting; with renovations taken on as grant funds become available; and any costs to the Town covered by the Rec. Dept. reallocating fundraising income and its normal budget as other projects are completed. In the worst-case-imaginable scenario, if the Town is unable or unwilling to make ownership of the Baptist building work out financially (or for any other reason), the building would revert back to its current owners. This is to be stipulated in the deed. It seems to me that this makes it a “can’t lose” proposition!

Over a hundred Fairfax residents showed up at a meeting a few weeks ago about the recent rise in residential break-ins and related crimes, demonstrating a widespread concern about these issues. Also present were experts from the State Police, Sheriff's office, State’s Attorney’s office, and rehabilitation and prevention programs. They made it clear that most of these crimes are related to illegal drug use. And they all consistently told us that reactive measures—law enforcement, neighborhood watches, incarceration, etc.—though important, are not effective ways to stem the tide. They said that what’s needed to really address this problem is good rehab. and prevention programs. Bored young people, lacking engaging and constructive activities and adult supervision and guidance are a big part of this problem. The Rec. Dept. has sponsored some such activities; but it has a longstanding backlog of people and organizations that are willing to run such programs, but with no space in which to do it. Of course, a Fairfax community center would enable us to have activities for all ages. But it seems to me that even just this one issue alone—the need to provide constructive activities for our teenagers and young adults—is enough to justify accepting this generous offer.

« #7 : October 04, 2015, 02:33:40 PM »

Great conversation,

As a selectboard member and the fact that I will not be able to make the 19th meeting due to work commitments the following is my recommendation:

I say we give 25k out of the settlement money we have in an account to the building. 5k per year for the next 5 years to get started. The rec department takes the building at that point, if the building needs something more, or future growth plans require large amounts of money, outside grant money obtained, (for example in two years we find out that the building needs a large expense item, roof, heating system whatever), then we put it on the ballet for a vote just like we do with anything else in this town i.e. paved parking lot for the fire dept. a new town office building etc. This proposal gives us the building but doesn't immediately hold us to large expenses that our community members need to be a part of. A community building is just that and our community needs say when it comes to our money. Just my two cents and now you will get an idea on how I will vote as your representative. 
Sr. Member
: 393

« #8 : October 04, 2015, 08:14:24 PM »

If you find out two years down the road that you need to spend money on a system, I'd question the review of the physical needs done prior to the purchase. I'd also question any plan that did not layout a 20+ year capital plan for all systems to be replaced or maintained. Some things do just happen, but often it's because someone didn't think of how much money you need to annually put aside to cover future capital expenses.
Hero Member
: 1744

« #9 : October 05, 2015, 10:45:15 AM »


I want to make sure I understand. You are in favor of the town taking over the building as a municipality and use the $25,000 for the 1st 5 years as the yearly expenses we would need to cover. During that time, Rec Park and CFC would work together to get grants written and secured and start the process of the upgrades and conversion to a community center as presented by the rec park last year. 

After year 5, the Rec Park would be now taking the responsibility of the building and the yearly expenses (this is utilities to those who do not know).

Am I correct?

Thank you for your time!

~Mary Kay

"Life is too short, so love the one you got!"

« #10 : October 05, 2015, 12:49:10 PM »


Thank you
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