I suppose I am one of the citizens that Councilman McNicholas was referring to when he noted that there may be some adverse public reaction to a food bank in Erickson Park. I don’t want a food bank in Erickson Park. I do not belive that it furthers any of the park’s purposes. It is a mystery to me why the food bank cannot be established on private property (unless it expects some form of special deal or support from the town). But perhaps that debate is over.
Living here for the last eight years, I find that the Town seems to regularly get in over its head on contractual relationships; ones that invariably seem to lead to unintended consequences. We have well-meaning public servant/volunteers but most of them have not actually worked in the areas where the commercial arrangements are making themselves felt. The public water contract is not just poor maintenance, as Mr. Jungers charges. It is also the result of the contractual details of “allowed costs.” Our new town sewer system did not go through an independent audit of technical and commercial conditions, other than one by our town engineering consultant. Hence, unexpected conditions and change orders. Our town hall restoration has been through many iterations as new issues arise. Now we are entertaining the construction and operation of a food bank in our park.
When building on public property, certain requirements are prudent as contractual matters. The food bank should be able to stand up as a sustainable enterprise capable of carrying out its obligations to the town. Just one example is that companies building on leased public property are subject to “completion guarantees” so that the public is not left holding the bag. Being on public property, the town must exercise active involvement in all phases of construction and operation, a capability not yet demonstrated by the town. If we are to establish a food bank in a park, arms-length commercial arrangements and financial requirements, to say nothing of project management expertise, should be in place unless the town is actually prepared to inadvertently find itself in the food bank business (i.e., left holding the bag.) And wouldn’t that be fun for all of us?