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Governor propose cutting state funding for Richter House repairs

Saturday, February 28, 2009
Time: 9:40 AM



UPDATE 5:30 PM: Several people contacted me wanting more info on this subject and I want to make sure everyone understands that what the governor is proposing IS NOT SET IN STONE and is NOT FINAL. The legislature still has to sign onto this and we're at the VERY BEGINNING of the budget process.

Although I did state this at the end of this post but in looking at the title of this post, I can see how someone who did not understand the budget process could get the impression that the funds were cut and that was that. Because of that, I updated the title of the post in order to better clarify the situation BUT without feedback from the public to out local State Reps, you can be sure that this proposal WILL become a reality.





In what's now a sign of the times, the ripple effect of the state's looming budget deficit can be felt here in Danbury as Gov. Rell has proposed cutting the funding to fix repairs at he Richter House.

The Hartford Courant has the details:
As state leaders grapple with how to make do with less, Gov. M. Jodi Rell has proposed canceling $389 million in state and local bond projects, forcing cash-strapped towns to decide whether they can, or want to, fund their own dreams.

[...]

"The projects are pretty clearly not essential in economic times like we are facing right now," said Rich Harris, a Rell spokesman. "They can't be a priority right now."

Not a priority for state officials, perhaps.

"They're projects of local significance," said state Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D- New Britain. "If the state doesn't chip in, those are expenses that local taxpayers will have to pick up."

"They're projects of local significance," said state Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D- New Britain. "If the state doesn't chip in, those are expenses that local taxpayers will have to pick up."

[...]

Jeffrey Beckham, a spokesman for the state Office of Policy and Management, said that many of the longtime projects on the list had been added at the request of town officials and legislators, and Rell has said that the state must cut back on its bonded debt.

DeFronzo said that the governor's proposed cancellations would cut nearly 19 percent of the total $2.1 billion pending bond list. He also said that the Senate revenue and bonding committee, on which he serves, would probably try to restore some of the projects.


[...]

A decision has not been made yet on whether projects left on the list will be funded, but they have been deemed a priority, and state officials are hopeful that funds will be allocated in the future, Beckham said.

Before I comment on the Richter House, it's REALLY IMPORTANT TO watch this brief video history lesson on the Richter family and what led to the family donating their land to the city.



Now that you know about the history of the Richter House and the family's love for the arts, now lets get into the meat of the matter.

First and foremost: Richter Park is MUCH more than just a golf course...unfortunately, the people whose job was to oversee the land only thought about the golf course.

The current state of the Richter House is TOTALLY due to negligence by The Richter Park Authority (RPA) as well as the City of Danbury...PERIOD.

To put it bluntly, throughout the years, the RPA have ignored the deteriorating conditions at the Richter House while focusing their attention to raking in the dough at the golf course...all the while ignoring the Richter family's wish that they take care of the home (a wish that was conveyed to the city by at least one living member of the family during a public hearing on the Richter Park Authority.

Instead of attempting to preserve the house, the RPA in it's arrogance cast a 11th hour vote to demolish the family's home. Again, the Richter family wanted that property preserved to "provide for the arts!" The RPA failed to honor the family's request by ignoring the House while focusing their attention to the golf course (i.e. the RPA thinking about tearing up the front lawn of the Richter House for golf course parking).

The RPA vote the demolish the home created a large outcry from the people who use the house for plays, concerts, recitals, and other forms of art...something that the family intended to house to be used for. The result of the outcry was the RPA changing their tune about ripping the house down...for now.

Second, and more important: The city is also to blame simply because they didn't do their due diligence when it came to making sure that the authority was doing what they were suppose to be doing. Remember, Richter Park is MUCH MORE than a golf course and making sure that the house throughout the years was in shape should have equal priority to the condition of the golf course.

This gross malfeasance has resulted in the house to continue to deteriorate and the cost of the repairing the house skyrocket. The end result is a slap in the face to a family that gave so much to this city during a time when they could have sold their land to developers (think about housing developments at that location as opposed to a park).

From April 2008, here's video footage of the numerous people who came out to support the saving of the Richter House and echoed the points I raised.



Our State Representatives worked hard to get state funding to assist in reparing the house but now, due to the budget crisis, that is in jeopardy. To add insult to injury, THE SITUATION WITH THE HOUSE IS DUE TO THE RPA AND CITY and the buck stops with them, not the state.

In short, if the city can magically find money to fund non-essential things such as the Connecticut Film Festival (over 120K) or dish out a whopping 700,000K to preserve the Taylor farm, although NOT ONE DEVELOPER IN THEIR RIGHT MIND IS THINKING ABOUT DEVELOPING LAND NOW OR IN THE NEAR FUTURE (look at the "progress" being made at the BRT development at Kennedy Park), than surly the city can find it within their heart to honor the Richter Family and coughing up the cash necessary to fix the roof OR AT THE VERY LEAST patch the home as best as possible. That being said, although the governor killed the funding for the Richter House doesn't mean it's completely dead yet.

I'll have more on this story later...

NOTE: For a full detailed list of funding the Gov Rell has cut for Danbury, click here.

posted by ctblogger at 9:40 AM | Permalink|

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