Petition Circulating for $350,000 Kids Kingdom

Petition would be filed March 9 to set a Town Meeting if $500,000 proposal fails.

A new petition began circulating Sunday to set the date for a Town Meeting to approve $350,000 to renovate Kids Kingdom if the fails.

The petition will be submitted on March 9 but only if the $500,000 proposal fails, according to Zoning Commission member Stanley Parker, who is helping to circulate the petition.

If the petitioners are able to obtain signatures from at least 3 percent of the registered voting population of Brookfield (293 signatures), then, by section C9-5 of the Town Charter, the motion would go to a Town Meeting, where residents can vote on the proposal.

If the measure passes at the Town Meeting, it will still need approval from the Board of Finance (BOF), whose chairman, Bill Tinsley, is also collecting signatures.

“The petition is for a special Town Meeting for the purpose of putting forth an alternative proposal,” Tinsley said. If the $500,000 proposal fails at referendum next week, “There’s an interest in making sure we get something new on the table,” in order to ensure that a new playground is installed before the summer.

Tinsley said he was confident that the same could be built for less than $350,000.

“The 350-number has plenty of padding,” he said. “It still has a contingency in it and it has a lot of things that I know will get donated,” he suggested, such as plants and benches.  

The bulk of the savings would come from , similar to the one used in the original , but without the difficulties of fundraising and lobbying the town for the land, Tinsley pointed out.

“We have a list of about 120 names of volunteers to help us put this [volunteer effort] together,” Parker said, adding that even if the existing measure passes on March 8, “We’ll be able to show we have the volunteers to do this and maybe change things a bit” before the project goes out to bid.

According to Tinsley, he and “eight to 10” other people are putting together a steering committee to coordinate every aspect of a volunteer effort, including finding and organizing volunteers for bid package preparation, demolition and removal, site preparation and surfacing, assembly, landscaping and finishing, and a committee to organize hospitality for the volunteers and a grand opening party when the new playground is complete.

Tinsley said he expects to have this organization set and begin signing up volunteers before Tuesday’s referendum or shortly thereafter.

“It’s about being able to hit the ground running and get this done for the town,” he said.

Howard Lasser March 01, 2011 at 02:53 PM
To Rob, I do not know who you mean by "Town Government has been strongly opposed to any public vote or any change in the project" I for one have never opposed the referendum, nor do I oppose any changes. I would, however like to know what those changes entail and I believe the voters have a right to know as well. The "Town" as a public body has an obligation to disclose. Apparently those who say they know better do not feel the same obligation. To date, those who say there is a cheaper alternative to get the same thing, have yet to provide any details. If the only issue is the volunteer labor, it has already been said that we can use volunteers and that any money saved will reduce the overall cost. Picking a figure of $350,000 out of a hat does not insure we get what has been proposed, only that we may spend less and if it is not sufficient we will get less.
Bob McGarrah March 01, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Just a comment on the "quality" of volunteers available in our town, many of us are well qualified engineers, craftsmen and builders who make our living doing large projects and small for pay. Its a profession, a career, a job, a lively hood. Much like the folks who assemble playgrounds for a living. I would match our professionals against the playground professionals any time, on any project. The wide diversity of education, talent and experience available can certainly assemble a play set. The people who you trust with your home repairs are not to be trusted to do an excellent job of assembling a playground device for their and the neighbors children? Hard to believe, stop drinking the Kool aid. Lead, join or get out of the way - as the saying goes. Bob McGarrah
Susan E March 01, 2011 at 03:22 PM
Please help me understand the intention of this petition. Is the intention to have a town meeting where a vote on the $350,000 proposal will take place that night? Or, is the intention to have a town meeting to discuss this alternative and then have a referendum at a later date?
Matt Grimes March 01, 2011 at 03:34 PM
The intention of the petition is to call a town meeting. Once that happens, the Board of Selectmen can schedule a referendum OR another petition could be filed with 200 signatures elevating the vote to a referendum.
Ray DiStephan March 01, 2011 at 03:38 PM
I would like to point out that is was Ron Jaffe who got the information directly from the state that this was NOT a matching grant and that we don't stand to lose it. And it was Ron who made that publicly known at the Town Meeting.
Michelle March 01, 2011 at 03:40 PM
First of all, I would like to commend Bill Tinsley for his continued commitment to Kids Kingdom. Mr. Tinsley...You can put my name on your list of volunteers. Thank you for all your hardwork and dedication to this project. Second of all... I am not a big fan of some of the rhetoric and personal attacks that go on here. However, I find myself completly baffled by the lack of understanding of how Kids Kingdom came to be. This particular person who, I suppose doesn't read anyone elses comments. So I will repost a clip and hope it sinks in. "Well...actually Kids Kingdom was built by a team of volunteers. I was there and remember it well. Many of the volunteers were Licensed Contractors. My father and father in law were a couple of the very generous community members who gave their time...so your kids can play and make great memories. It has been perfectly safe for your children to play on up until now. " For the record...Kids Kingdom has been safe for the last 20+ years. It was built by QUALIFIED volunteers. The ignorance is incredibly obnoxious. I encourage and commend anyone else who wants to generously donate items or time to this project. It is a great lesson to our children to donate and volunteer to our community.
Susan E March 01, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Thank you for your response. To be clear, are you saying there could not be a vote to approve the $350,000 proposal that night at the town meeting? The vote on the proposal would definitely be at a referendum?
Michelle March 01, 2011 at 03:48 PM
I would also like to chime in that the original Kids Kingdom project had a team of volunteer babysitters. It made it possible for the families to donate their time building the playground. It would be great if a team of volunteer high school students came on board as babysitters. The possibilities are endless, when you have people who care enough to give their time.
Matt Grimes March 01, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Susan, there would be a vote on the 350,000 at the town meeting that night UNLESS a petition was filed 24 hours before the meeting elevating the vote to a referendum. If that happened a referendum would be held 7-14 days after the town meeting.
Michelle March 01, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Wow...very eye opening. Thanks for posting Mr. N. There is quite a bit that can be cut from that final number simply with volunteers and donations. Not to mention, it seems like many of those quotes are inflated quite a bit. Very interesting...again-thanks!
Susan E March 01, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Mr. Grimes. Thank you for your clarification.
Rob Gianazza March 01, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Howard, let's not play naive. The Selectmen's Office, specifically Mr. Davidson and yourself have both been very vocal about supporting this project as is. Do I need to site every reference in the Patch, News-Times and Housatonic Times? How about at public meetings? This seems to be a pattern with you. You attacked Mr. Tinsley's proposals demanding documentation for all his comments as well. You also wrongly attacked your fellow neighbors for pointing out the process that the Town Charter provides for. Please, let's leave the politics out of this, listen to the people, hear what they are asking for instead of attempting to undermine their efforts. And please don't insult our intelligence by saying that you support a volunteer effort when what you really mean is that you'll let a few people perform menial labor so you can stand up and say that you supported the volunteer effort. And no, you never said that publicly. Actions speak louder than words.
Howard Lasser March 01, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Jsut so you are clear, The data Ernie provided is not a final quote but an estimate. Final costs would be determined by a bid process. The way municipal funding works is you have to have an appropriation before you can go out to bid. In the past the town has underestimated and ended up going back to the voters or reducing the scope of the project (Think of the High School, Think of Center School). There is nothing in the propsal that precludes volunteers and it is great that so many have come forward at this date. Keep in mind if we apropriate the $500,000 (net $250,000 to the town) and save with labor or get a lower bid, then we will only spend what is needed (Think of the Senior Center that came in under budget). If we appropriate the $350,000 and do not have enough to finish the project ?
Howard Lasser March 01, 2011 at 04:20 PM
If this were to happen, to preserve the integrity of the process and the integrity of those who have expressed the belief that such a decision should be made by all the voters, it would be my intention to move this to referendum.
Howard Lasser March 01, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Rob, I think there are other venues best suited for a debate, however, let me set you straight. I suggested to Dennis Depinto more than a year ago, well before the current uproar, that we should encourage volunteers to do this. Ask him. I support the proposal that is the result of many public meetings by volunteers who developed and presensted a full well thought out proposal. Those who have offered an "alternative" made no prior objection to the proposal in any of the public venues. They have offered no specifics as to what they propose the public vote on. They have put forward a figure with no substance. I think it is appropriate to ask for the information and clearly appropriate to wonder why there is a reluctence to provide it. If we are going to commite taxpayer money we should have all the information needed to make an informed decision.
Rob Gianazza March 01, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Probably so, but you brought it here, so here it is. Correct me if I am wrong, what you are saying is that since people didn't get involved with this during the planning stages it's too late now? Because what I hear is an outpouring from the community right now. That outpouring resulted in the first petition and very possibly the second petition. Let me set you straight, we want to lower the spending cap. We plan to accomplish that by utilizing the same plan, just with donations and volunteer labor instead of placing a burden on taxpayers for the next twenty years.
Howard Lasser March 01, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Ernie, this proposal came from the Park and Rec commission. There were at least two public hearings that I know of. There were also meetings with the REc. Enhancement council. All meetings of Park and rec are open to the public. The project has been in the public domain for over a year. You and anyone else were free to participate and give input. Given your interest when you were running for First Selectman, I am surprised you did not seek it out.
Howard Lasser March 01, 2011 at 05:08 PM
Rob, You, and others, keep saying you don't want to burden future generations with debt, yet the new petition specificly says you will borrow the money. If the issue is that we are not willing to spend as much then lets be honest about it. I have never said it is too late for volunteers please do not put words in my mouth. I have always said that if we get volunteer labor , or we get a better quote once we go out to bid, and can lower the cost great we will not spend as much as is appropriated.
David Propper March 01, 2011 at 05:13 PM
There is a lot of detail here. I would like to know if there is a similar level of detail in the $350k proposal that many want to support. Two factors that I would be very interested in learn are 1) does this alternative proposal include the disposal costs of the current material (which will be considered HAZMAT)? 2) Does our town's insurance cover the potential of injury to the volunteers in case somebody is injured on the job site? The current proposal has been discussed in great detail for a long time. Any alternative proposal should go through a thorough review to make sure that costs and benefits can be achieved. Everybody should go out and vote on March 8 and consider the substance behind the choices that are being presented to you.
Bob McGarrah March 01, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Would someone PLEASE document the Haz mat comments? My understanding is that the demolition materials AKA treated wood - cannot be burned - otherwise - no restrictions. If anyone has information - not hearsay - factual information ---to the contrary please share - otherwise you are not really part of the solution - but part of the problem. Thanks! Bob McGarrah
Lawrence A. Miller March 01, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Bob - most likely the wood used to construct the original Kid's Kingdom was treated with chromated copper arsenate, which has now been banned by the EPA for use on pressure-treated lumber, playground equipment, and other wooden structures where human exposure is considered to be a risk. The only remaining use for arsenical wood treatments that I know of are classified as Restricted Use products, which must be applied by licensed professional applicators. I'm not sure what, if any, restrictions there might be during the demolition of Kid's Kingdom (most likely volunteers can be exposed to airborne particulates/dusts via inhalation), but it's possible that CT DEP or the US EPA might have more information available. Unfortunately, arsenic-based products that were used since the 1940's can produce some very nasty health effects.
Ken March 02, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Someone posted a question about what if the cost of a reduced playground budget, $350k goes over budget. That brings me to the question of what the $250k state grant really is. Is it a 50/50 match or a flat $250k? My understanding of the current plan is for the town to spend $250k and the state to give us another $250k towards a playground. If we reduce the budget to $350k, does the state contribution then drop to $175k? However, if the state amount is a guranteed $250k then with a $350k budget would the town cost be only $100k? ($350k budget - $250K state). Also if the state amount is a guaranteed $250k would we already have a built in contingency if costs exceed $350k? Perhaps I am trying to work too many angles here but I think there may be other besides me who are confused about whether we still get the full $250k from the state.
Rob Gianazza March 02, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Ken, that's an excellect question and one that can't be answered enough. The state grant is NOT a matching fund grant. There are no strings attached to it other than it must be used for Kids Kingdom. You also ask what if $350k doesn't cover the entire cost of the project? Another excellent question. My guess is that since benchs and landscaping are the last elements of the park to be completed, we would continue to fund raise within the community until they were completed. I can't imagine a scenario where the demolition, ground prep and structure would exceed the $350k budget. So the project would be completed safely and structurally while plantings and benchs would be somewhat delayed.
Ken March 03, 2011 at 12:01 AM
So if I understand the above reply then the total amount you are proposing would be capped at $350k. The town portion of the total would then be $100k. If you are expecting contractors to volunteer their services I am guessing that there is a plan to incentivize them to be volunteers There should be a plan for some recognition of their contributions for example signage at the entrance to the playground. Example of a sign This playground is made possible in part due to the support and contributions of many local volunteers. The town would also like to thank the following contractors for their donation of time, material and labor. Landscapers Landscaping Earth clearing clearers Carpentry Carpentries Paving Pavers Co. are made up names but I think you get the idea of giving the recognition and in a way some sort of promotional support to these contractors.
Bob McGarrah March 03, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Lawrence- Thanks for the information, as the Chairman of the Inland wetlands commission, I would assume you have correct and accurate information, however, in two phone calls we learned that the only restriction is the burning, you are correct regarding wearing a mask to avoid inhaling the dust. Placing the material in a dumpster and disposing of it as you would home repair debris, roof, siding and similar used building materials is the accepted method of disposal. Question, as a volunteer member of one of the Towns commissions, who would logically have the information or certainly access/sourcing for the information, Why were you never asked? Why has the Haz Mat question been floated time and time again , when you clearly had the answer? Project detail is only being addressed now,for a project that has been worked on for four years, there seems to be a lot of unanswered questions. Bob McGarrah
Lawrence A. Miller March 03, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Bob - I did raise this issue a few weeks ago in an email to Bill Tinsley. You and others may check this out on the EPA website at: http://www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/ Here are some details: Chromated arsenicals were widely used as a wood preservative since the 1940's. The EPA estimated in 2004 that these products were used on 99% of treated wood, so it's a reasonable expectation that the wood used to construct Kids Kingdom in 1989 was treated with these products. Chromated arsenicals are heavy metals (such as lead and mercury) and they are classified as acutely toxic, skin and eye irritants, and carcinogens. The EPA has now banned their use for any residential wooden structures and specifically mentions playgrounds, picnic tables, etc. I'm concerned that the demolition of Kids Kingdom by volunteers could present a risk that might be better left to licensed insured professionals experienced in abatement proceedures. We all remember the $millions spent on asbestos remediation in the Brookfield schools - perhaps a $250,000 cost is a small price to pay compared to health risks, liability, and possible violations with federal and state regulatory agencies? With regard to disposal of the debris after demolition, the EPA has left that decision to the individual states, although the EPA noted its concerns about the potential for groundwater contamination in landfill sites. It might be a good idea if someone contacted the CT DEP on that issue.
Bob McGarrah March 05, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Lawrence- Glad to hear the issue came to your attention "a few weeks ago" that pretty much says it all. Thanks. Thank you also for confirming that CCA's were used on the Kids Kingdom materials. CT DEP reportedly was the source for the 'do not burn" advice. What land fill site in Brookfield might contaminate our water supply? Are contractors holding contaminated materials on land in Brookfield? Will our full time zoning enforcement officer be supported by the Board of Selectmen in getting these sites cleaned up? Thanks for your service to the community. Bob Mc Garrah
Bill Tinsley March 05, 2011 at 12:55 PM
United States EPA : "CCA-treated wood can be disposed of with regular municipal trash (i.e. municipal solid waste, not yard waste) in many areas." CT EPA: "...try to reuse treated wood that has been taken out of service (landscape/trail borders is a recommended use)....dispose of treated wood following these recommendations....a permitted bulky waste landfill" (Note: there are 29 permitted bulky waste landfills in CT...where construction debris is taken.) Having spoken with representatives in both US and CT offices, only regs are 1) prohibition against burning, and 2) segregation from yard waste (as yard waste is frequently burned or chipped). Having spoken with a knowledgeable and likely volunteer contractor...we can demolish, remove, and dispose of the current playground equipment for very little cost...(cost of container and disposal)...certainly a whole lot less than the $20,000 estimate that is in the proposed $500,000 project.
Howard Lasser March 05, 2011 at 01:04 PM
Bill, I am glad you are bringing this information, and your expertise in this area, forward now. It is a sham you did not share this with the park and rec commission volunteers when they were working on the plans. Nothing you have brought forward though suggests we cannot use this information and the volunteers that have now come forward after we approve the referendum on Tuesday. It is a win-win, we can get started right away and still save all the money you say we can. Voting no does not move us forward.
Lawrence A. Miller March 06, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Bob - On Feb. 13th I received an email from Bill Tinsley regarding the petition for referendum and I responded to Bill with a series of questions and comments - one of which was the question of human exposure and the disposal of treated wood. On March 1st, you raised the question of hazardous materials (see above) and I provided you with a response. On March 1st I received another email from Greg Woods requesting more detailed information, so I did some checking with the EPA and provided that information to Greg. I shared that information with you on March 3rd (see above). Does that pretty much say it all?


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