May 19, 2000
Editor Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian
This newsletter is to provide a means for keeping historians, re-enactors, and other interested people aware of the activity to create a national historic trail, the WRRR. Rochambeau’s French army defined the route when they marched from Newport to Yorktown and back to Boston. The goal is to encourage creation of a National Historic Trail with the registration of the entire route that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and to raise to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation all along the route.
Meeting With CT Congressman John Larson
Congressman John Larson and his staff met April 17 with Attorney Jay Jackson, Pat Morianos, David Killian, Jane Maneggia and myself to discuss the WRRR. He said he would introduce legislation for the WRRR feasibility study. This week his staff called to say that it was decided that the WRRR Feasibility Study should be introduced with its own Bill number this year. We will let you know when the bill is given a number so we can contact the congressional delegations in all nine states.
MDSSAR Discuss Official State Committee for WRRR
MDSSAR Officers, Board of Managers and Chapter Presidents met 13 May 2000 to discuss a letter to the Honorable Parris N Glendening, Governor of Maryland recommending a State Committee for the WRRR.
The Hartford Courant to Follow the WRRR
The oldest American newspaper in continuous operation gave the WRRR a half page in the CT section last Sunday as its first in a series of articles. Reporter Lee Foster has been assigned to the story. The Courant is part of syndication and plans to follow the story in all nine states through 2006
Camp 5, is Preserved for $1.2 Million
In a dramatic turn of events, WRRR French Camp 5, the Rose Farm in Bolton, Connecticut, has been preserved without going to referendum. On Monday May 8 it was determined that the petition to force the referendum was short 60 signatures. In response to the risk that the farm could be voted down at the town meeting before the referendum, we had hundreds of telephone calls made asking people to go to the town meeting. It was another all new record meeting for the town of Bolton, three times the normal turnout. The response was overwhelming. The vote was 9 to 1 in favor and everyone was hugging one another and cheering when it was over. The farm is preserved! The town referendum held May 16 turned everything else down by a 3 to 2 vote.
Business Case Expands The Heritage Partnership
While capturing hearts and minds for heritage preservation gives everyone a warm feeling, winning the pocketbook argument can help get the results we need. After experimenting two years on a business case for heritage preservation we may now have a workable formula. It was initially difficult for some to accept a business case because they doubted that anything that could improve our quality of life could also make good business sense. But Bolton seniors and the taxpayer group grasped the business case almost instantly. What was demonstrated with the “Rose Farm” (Camp 5) vote is that two large and well-organized groups (seniors and taxpayer groups), joined our partnership.
The business case goes beyond how heritage tourism improves our quality of life and raises state revenue levels. The case gets into how urban sprawl raises local taxes and puts a burden on long term residents such as seniors and their children. Sprawl often makes towns and villages unaffordable to the very children raised in the community. So our seniors and taxpayer unions see our towns going downhill while our taxes go uphill. The business case is based on the capital cost of subsidizing sprawl, the loss of the business subsidy caused by residential sprawl, and the special situations that make the business case for heritage preservation irresistible. Here is the way we explained the business case on our Rose Farm flier.
SOME THINGS ARE WORTH SAVING… THE ROSE FARM. BUT CAN WE AFFORD IT? WE CAN’T AFFORD NOT TO BUY THE ROSE FARM! It will cost taxpayers half as much to save the Rose Farm than to do nothing and let the center of town be replaced with urban sprawl. Residential development would result in the need for school expansion costing the town twice what it costs to buy the farm. And then there is the cost of capital equipment for town services and fire protection for all the new homes. The irony of urban sprawl is it costs more than the preservation of our quality of life. IT WILL COST TAXPAYERS LESS TO PRESERVE THE ROSE FARM FOREVER THAN TO ALLOW IT TO BE DESTROYED!
Yes, taxes will rise briefly but then fall again! Once we pay off the Rose Farm the tax increase attributable to the purchase goes to zero. Not so if it is developed. If the Rose Farm is developed we will pay higher taxes forever because of the ongoing costs of services. The long-term increase in taxes that comes with development is due to the fact that we depend on businesses to subsidize residences. Businesses do not require school services but are taxed for them all the same. Towns make money from businesses because their services cost only 36% of what they pay in taxes. In contrast, towns subsidize residences at a rate of at least $1.05 to $1.14 for every $1 collected. Developing the Rose Farm would hurt this balance between businesses and residences raising our tax bills forever. We would be subsidizing the urban sprawl! On the other hand, buying the Rose Farm will raise taxes only until it is paid off. After it is paid off the Rose Farm will pay for itself every 10 years over and over again in future tax savings. AGAIN IT IS IRONIC THAT WE ACTUALLY KEEP FUTURE TAXES LOWER BY SAVING OUR HERITAGE, QUALITY OF LIFE, AND OUR VILLAGE CENTER.
Having twelve acres of the total set aside for town use makes business sense. This separate piece could be used later for an active mini farm, a museum, for senior citizens, municipal facilities, or for a youth program. The Rose Farm is a special situation. What makes the situation special is the low price, because it is a large block of land and the town will receive a 45% State Open Space Grant for 88 acres. We can do whatever the town wants with the other 12 acres. The Rose Farm is costing Bolton only $8200 per acre at a time when one acre lots are selling for $80,000. This opportunity knocks only once. If we don’t buy it now it will be gone forever!
That was our business case.