The views stated here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of this newspaper.
Haddam and Killingworth voters will return to the polls on June 4, 2019 to vote on a revised RSD 17 school budget. However, Haddam voters will also have a second item on their ballots:
“Question #2 is a yes or no vote on whether Haddam should purchase the Haddam Elementary School and the surrounding 10 acres from RSD#17 for the price of $450,000 to be paid in three equal annual installments starting on July 1, 2020.”
This is an enormously consequential vote that will have profound implications on Higganum Center and all of Haddam in the coming years and decades. I strongly urge my fellow townspeople in Haddam to vote “yes” to purchase Haddam Elementary School.
The reasons to purchase HES include:
- Haddam’s Town Planner, Bill Warner, has studied the land around HES and considered various uses for the property. He believes that the property could support a public septic system that could serve current and future businesses in Higganum Center, for a fraction of the cost of a public sewer. This public septic system could spur much needed economic growth and vitality in Higganum. If the property is sold to a developer or other private company, Haddam will lose access to this critical land use.
- Haddam voters, not our regional school board, are best equipped to decide the future of Haddam Elementary School.
- For example, Haddam voters and leadership could decide to sell the property to a developer and reap all the profits from that sale (instead of having to share it with Killingworth as it will if the BOE sells it), while still maintaining access to the land for a public septic system.
- Or Haddam could instead choose to lease the property to various businesses, even to a school, while gathering lease payments and maintaining access to the property for current and future use.
- Haddam voters could also decide to utilize the property, or portions of the property, for various critical town functions. These uses could include town offices, space for Haddam Little League, a much-needed daycare, a museum or any number of creative uses that have not yet been envisioned.
- Haddam residents would retain full access to Swan Hill from the town center, as well as the parking lot that is so often used for events on the town green, while also maintaining access to the playgrounds and basketball courts that are used by Haddam residents all summer and on weekends year-round.
- Finally, there are real and viable concerns that future growth in Haddam may require additional space for students. If Haddam retains ownership of the property, it can again be used as a school for a fraction of the cost that would be required for new school construction.
A video of the town meeting with Bill Warner’s presentation on why Haddam should buy HES can be found here: https://www.wevideo.com/hub#media/ci/1370463730
While there will be costs to Haddam in purchasing this property– $150,000 per year for three years– for all these reasons listed above, and many more, it’s critical that Haddam voters vote “yes” to purchase Haddam Elementary and really “Save HES.”