Sunday, April 24, 2005

Quarry Hills and the Moderator’s Race

Diane Agostino has attempted to make the Quarry Hills development project an issue in her campaign against incumbent Moderator Brian Walsh. This effort is disingenuous, since the issue has nothing to do with the Moderator’s race. Elected officials studied the issue and made, in hindsight, a very wise decision on the matter. Even if the position of Moderator had been involved in the agreement, Brian Walsh wasn’t Moderator at the time.

I have received an email, an anonymous email, in response to my commentary about Ms. Agostino and her campaign. Among other claims, it asserts that our current financial situation is due in part to the agreement made by the Board of Selectmen during Ms. Agostino’s tenure on that board. Here is the pertinent section from the email.

“The truth sometimes takes time to reach daylight. Look at the Big Dig or better yet the landfill deal. Quarry Hills Associates (QHA) refusal to pay $44,000 in taxes and a measley $52,000 or less annually for golf fees is clear proof the truth will prevale. Agostino stood alone to advise Milton residents the QHA deal was just another benefit to a small group of political connected individuals. The education of Milton children has been reduced by the a substantially limited income stream from a non-qualified business partner, QHA.”

I asked Kathie Dunphy, who along with Rick Neely negotiated and signed this agreement as Selectmen, to comment on the claim. She emailed me as follows:

“Quarry Hills is a good deal for all Milton taxpayers, including Mrs.Agostino, although she does not appear to be able to admit it.

The real value of the QHA deal is that the town avoided the cost of capping the landfill: $11 million in principal and interest or an average of $550,000 a year for twenty years.

QHA, not the Town of Milton, is responsible for methane gas, leachate, and settling of the old landfill.

Tens of thousands of truckloads of Big Dig dirt came into Milton through Quincy, not on Route 28-Randolph Avenue. We were spared noise, dust and truck traffic. The shorter route saved money for Mass. Highway—and all of us Massachusetts taxpayers.

Neighbors have traded the view of a dump for the view of a golf course and enjoy increased property values.

The two selectmen who signed the lease made sure that the work in Milton was done first, before QHA found out that building a golf course on two landfills was more difficult and more expensive than expected. When QHA had to go to the banks for more money, Milton had a capped landfill and a clean balance sheet.

Milton has a valid lease with QHA. QHA is subject to the terms of the lease. When all twenty-seven holes are completed, and as Milton's percentage share of the greens fees increases, this good deal will get even better."

I thank the anonymous emailer for allowing me to highlight yet another reason for returning Brian Walsh to the Moderator’s position on Tuesday.

Remember to get out and vote on Tuesday April 26. And remind everyone you know, and have them remind everyone they know, to do the same. That's the beauty of electronic communication!


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