The undersigned members of the Suffield Parks and Recreation Commission wish to express our support for the completion of a community center building in Suffield. As it stands, our Town has determined through referendum vote to appropriate $8.4 million for the renovation of the Bridge Street School into a community center building for Suffield. Recognizing the significant nature of a referendum vote and its central role in our valued local democracy, this commission supports upholding our Town’s October 2015 referendum vote and the attendant execution of the referendum by our Board of Selectmen.
For over ten years preceding the 2015 vote, back to the administration of Elaine Sarsynski, town boards and citizens had been assessing the topic of how to utilize the Bridge Street School and its surrounding property. In 2012, the Town rejected a bid to convert the property into a housing complex, and at multiple town meetings and forums, Suffield residents showed consensus that it did not want the building razed. The October 2015 referendum was the culmination of a lengthy process (dating back to the closing of the school in 2005) of discussions, forums and analysis and, as we know at this time, it resulted in a vote to approve the renovation of the building for a specific town purpose. Recognizing the lengthy course that led up to this vote, and the meaning of a referendum, as with all referendum votes, this vote clearly represents a consequential decision.
As to the underlying project, the commission submits that the plan would satisfy important goals for our town: providing full size gymnasium space; fields and playgrounds; activity/meeting rooms for local organizations; and a permanent office for the Parks and Recreation Department, where they can manage and operate programming directly on site. In the October 2019 issue of The Suffield Observer, First Selectman Melissa Mack focused her First Selectman’s Update on “our revitalized Parks and Recreation Department under Director Peter Leclerc, new Recreation and Sports Programmer Jen Filer, Special Programs Coordinator Donna Carney-Bastryncki and Assistant Pam Cocca.” This statement provides an excellent summary of this past summer’s youth camp programs, youth and adult activities and events operated and/or organized by the P & R staff. This piece from our First Selectman underscores both the quality and caliber of programming offered by this department and the important role that the P & R Department plays in Suffield for its citizens, and our administration’s confidence in this department’s abilities and dedication. The commission concurs with the points made in this statement and appreciates the recognition given to the experienced and motivated staff running the P & R department.
The undersigned recognize that not all members agree with every aspect of the plan; some would like to see additional features included in the project and some may prefer modifications to particular points in the plan. However, most importantly, the undersigned agree that the plan provides for the establishment of a worthwhile town community facility in a convenient location which can be used for a variety of purposes, predominantly for youth athletics and recreational purposes, twelve months out of the year. In an effort to fulfill our duty on this commission, we believe that the plan as presented in the referendum should proceed pursuant to the referendum vote. As taxpayers and proponents of a successful and effective Parks and Recreation Department, we believe this plan would achieve reasonable goals for the benefit of Suffield’s citizens in a fiscally responsible manner and can be honored and acted upon going forward by town boards and leadership.
Suffield Parks and Recreation Commissioners:
Brian Casinghino, Chairman;
William Boucher, Vice Chairman;
Leeayn Burke, Clerk
Jay Bombard, Lou Casinghino, Stephanie Dolan, Andrew Joly, Sam Lombardo, David Rusnock