07/29/2005: "Apologizes For The Confusion...However..."
I want to apologize for the confusion our committee gave the public about the LaFarge donation. We simply took the original commitment letter from LaFarge at its face value. On 8/31/04 LaFarge wrote and pledged, " to supply any non manufactured sand or gravel which may assist you.. .." We are now told the only commitment is a verbal commitment and it is for 1000 to 1500 yards.
In attending the Board meeting on Wednesday, I was dismayed at the Board's choice to make a decision without hearing the full input from those who wished to speak. I was cut off from my 12 minute presentation, even though I had about 300 petition signatures to give them. I also gave them letters from others. Sad to say, but their minds were made up before we got there. They did not read any of the letters, or even look at the petitions prior to their decision. They are tired, frustrated, and feel they have heard it all, as noted by their not allowing Don Galt to respond to the presentation by Mr. Soltman.
However, what struck me the most was the cavalier attitude toward risking losing some ball field commitments. That attitude helps explain why the $651,064, received as matching funds for the fields or development of the Carter Street property, ended up being spent over the years on other items. One Board member said, "Its only 7% of the fill. Let's not worry about it." I was also struck by the arbitrary way the Board controlled the speakers, and the reluctance to hear all the facts. For example, at one point the Board took a statement from a person (who had already spoken) about a fence requirement and its costs. Don Galt asked if he could respond. He was told he could not. The Board was left with false information about the fence from that speaker.
The Board made it clear that they want the CUP, the funds, and everything else in place before the ball field project starts. Their fear is that it will cost too much to develop. If the Board and the neighborhood group have their way, it will be a long time before anything starts. We have the plans and specifications in place. Over $30,000 in planning and surveying have been done and paid for. Moving ahead a stitch at a time, or as way opens, would be the fastest, most successful and inexpensive way to complete the fields. As each stitch was completed and as the community invested their time and energy, they would become more excited, encouraged and invigorated. This would be a real boost to the fund raising. To demand to have the CUP, funds etc first makes it more difficult and causes more delay in getting the fields done. The perception the Board gives is the same as Mr. Soltman's statement at the June public meeting: After Mr. Soltman said the District had no funds for the fields, he went on to say, "Furthermore, it was emphasized at that time that the schools had no need for additional fields which is still the case and that it was due to the community's needs that we agreed to engage in the process." This attitude is not helpful, and it is contrary to all the testimony at the June public meeting. The school and the community need these fields.
I am also sorry the Board chose not to respond to the two past School Board members who spoke. Dave Eden pointed out how conservative and pessimistic Mr. Soltman's presentation was. Dave Eden advised the Board to have more faith and to be positive. He recommended the Board complete the grading permit. Sharon Kivisto asked what harm would be done in moving ahead now. She too, advised moving ahead with the grading permit.
We are inviting some of the Board members to meet with us next Thursday, to answer some questions. We hope they will give us the same courtesy they gave the opposition.