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Voters to weigh in on funding for Pine Knoll pool, casino referendum


Oct. 17, 2013
By Chris Maza

chrism@thereminder.com

EAST LONGMEADOW – Residents at the Special Town Meeting on Oct. 21 will be asked to approve the use of $350,000 in additional Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding for the renovation of the pool at the Pine Knoll Recreation Area.

The additional money is needed after the Recreation Department received one bid on the project for $750,000, far more than the amount appropriated for the project at the Oct. 1, 2012 Special Town Meeting. At that meeting, residents approved the use of up to $450,000 in CPA monies to replace the pool. The $450,000 figure was requested in response to a budget created by Nationwide Aquatic Consulting, who was brought in by the town to assess the needs and costs.

The pool is currently not in compliance with the Pool SAFE Act, which requires that pools be in line with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. The pool also loses 4,000 gallons of water a day due to cracks and leaks in the system, which increases repair and water expenses.

Residents also will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum regarding any casino in the area.

The last item on the warrant, sponsored by the Board of Selectmen, will ask residents at the meeting at 7 p.m. in the East Longmeadow High School auditorium whether or not they approve of the adoption of a resolution that states, “Be it resolved that the citizens of East Longmeadow do not approve of casino gambling in Western Massachusetts.”

The resolution, however, will have little effect on whether a gaming license is issued to MGM for its proposed development in downtown Springfield or Mohegan Sun’s proposed gaming facility in Palmer, Board of Selectmen Chair Paul Federici told Reminder Publications.

“It’s a non-binding question, so nothing is going to happen, really,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to gauge how people in town feel about the casino. We know how we feel, but we wanted to get a feeling from the people at Town Meeting.”

Federici added that he didn’t foresee any problems arising from the adoption of the resolution, such as gaming companies taking a different approach to mitigation negotiations should residents declare they do not support a casino.

“I really don’t think it will be an issue, though that was discussed,” he said. “We have already been approached by developers about different topics, so I don’t think they will suddenly change their approach with us.”

The Board of Selectmen is also sponsoring an article that would address nuisance properties.

According to the proposed addition to the town’s general bylaws, the building commissioner would have the authority to determine whether vegetation, including – but not limited to – grass, trees, bushes or shrubs, pose an threat to the “health, safety or appearance of the neighborhood” and would give the town the authority to correct the problem if not rectified within 10 days of notice of a violation. The owner of the property would be responsible for the costs associated with correcting the problems, plus a $200 administrative fee.

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