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Thursday, October 8,2009

Erie ballot issues and questions

Ballot Issue 2A

Vote Yes.

Question 2A asks Erie voters to authorize the town to sell the old fire station property at 235 Wells St., "for the purpose of increasing retail sales and employment opportunity in the Historic Downtown Erie Business District." Town officials say they plan to sell the property for commercial retail development and provide an economic boost to the historic downtown district. The old fire station property is currently home to a town public works annex, but it will not be needed for that purpose when a new public works facility is completed south of the business district, south of Erie Parkway and east of County Line Road. Town officials say the old fire station property is well suited for commercial purposes, being on a prominent corner and surrounded by retail.

This seems like a great idea to us. By selling the property, Erie turns land into revenue. Then it wins again when that land is developed into retail space through the jobs and tax revenues the businesses will bring. Vote YES on Erie Ballot Issue 2A.

Ballot Issue 2B

Vote Yes.

Issue 2B also asks voters to authorize the sale of town land, in this case "pocket parks" or "tot lots" in residential subdivisions. If approved, 2B would authorize the town to sell a specific list of small town owned

parks to their respective homeowners' associations for $1 each. Contrary to opponents' initial concerns about the measure, homeowners' associations would not be required to purchase the parks. Town officials say that the town updated its comprehensive plan and uniform development code in 2005 so that any pocket parks in developments created after that date are owned by the homeowners' associations, but the ownership of tot lots created prior to 2005 varies. Officials say most, if not all, of the town-owned pocket parks on the Nov. 3 ballot are already maintained by the homeowners' associations, and that it makes sense for those associations to own them outright, so that they can control what amenities are placed there whether it is a children's swing set for a community of young families or park benches for a neighborhood with an older population. Asked about concerns regarding the possibility of increasing liability for associations that take ownership of the parks, Erie Mayor Andrew Moore says associations that are currently maintaining their tot lots are probably already carrying liability insurance, since the entity that maintains the property is liable for it. But he stressed that the associations are under no obligation to purchase the pocket parks, and if an association does not currently maintain its tot lot or have liability insurance, it can opt against buying the land. He described both 2B as a "housekeeping" measure.

It seems simple and logical to us. Vote YES on Erie Ballot Issue 2B.

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Not so fast on the "Yes" vote.

The Town is not playing all their cards on this one.  Wanting to sell the tot lots for $1?  If a deal sounds too good to be true, it is.

What they appear to be doing is walking (running?) away from future issues regarding replacement or upkeep on these tot lots. 

The Mayor states the HOAs are already maintaining these lots.  He doesn't happen to mention that in several cases, these HOAs were forced by the Town to take over maintenance of these areas, against their will.

Simple?  Not so much.  Logical?  Only if you're the Town of Erie.

Vote "No" and send a message to the Board of Trustees that their iron fist is not appreciated.