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Select Board vets possible revenue generating plans

Date: 11/23/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW -- Some ideas make sense; others have been deemed not feasible.

Town Manager Robin Crosbie and Select Board Clerk Mark Gold gave updates at the Select Board meeting last Monday evening on revenue generation ideas that various department heads have been working on to offset the anticipated shortfall in the fiscal year 2011 (FY11) budget.

Crosbie noted that a tree donation program was discussed, where residents could pick any tree they wanted to be planted in town for a donation of $350. Other ideas still being looked into are a dog park that could be located near Bliss Park, solar leases from the Western Massachusetts Electric Company and advertiser signs on ballfields.

A suggested car impound lot was not considered feasible, nor was a Medicare for home health services program, unless services were made regional.

"This list is disappointing," Robert Barkett, chair of the Select Board, stated. "It lacks a little luster. We need to start thinking entrepreneurial."

"We need more outside the box ideas, more regionalization," Select Board Vice-Chair Paul Santaniello added.

Gold was concerned about how the plans for generating revenue were panning out as well.

"I'm ... concerned the spirit of the first conversation [between department heads] is lost," he said. "I'm disappointed we came up fairly short. The target is a five-figure income, not just $100 here and there."

The concept of placing advertising signs on ballfields is being addressed by Bari Thomas, Director of Parks and Recreation, but those dollars may not go directly to the town.

The Parks and Recreation Department presented a sign policy for future adoption at the Nov. 16 meeting that would apply only to Turner Park.

Thomas said the concept of placing signs on sports fields is about 15 or 20 years old in the town of Longmeadow, but it's a knotty issue because the youth sports associations that use the fields are the ones who pay for their upkeep.

"The biggest component of [the sign program] is where the money goes," Thomas said. "We want the dollars to stay with the rec associations."

The funds collected by the sports association fees are used for everything from reseeding fields to purchasing goals, and Thomas explained the Parks and Recreation Department has a plan and priority list for what work is done.

The Select Board discussed whether or not the sports associations should be cut out of the equation and all fees should go directly to the town.

"I'm not in favor of bringing it in house," Barkett said. "It's not us and them; it's we." He added that he'd like to see the Turner Park policy be expanded to more fields because there's "a lot of potential" in the sign program.

The board opted not to vote on the sign policy that evening.

Members of the various town departments will be meeting again next week to brainstorm more way to raise funds for the town.