Sunday, June 20, 2010

Letter to Representative Timilty on Ulin Rink

Dear Representative Timilty,

I heard with dismay your comments at the Milton Board of Selectmen Meeting on the subject of the Ulin Rink. You stated, and Representative Scaccia agreed, that you would not support Senator Joyce’s 25 year lease because it could lead to “privatization” of the rink.
It’s very important to use words carefully, especially when they might mislead people about issues. No matter who leases or obtains a permit to Ulin rink, and no matter who operates the rink (municipality, non-profit, or private operator) Ulin Rink will remain the property of the Commonwealth and oversight of its operations will remain under the purview of DCR.

This oversight is extensive. All state owned rinks must adhere to uniform guidelines. These include:

  • Minimal requirements for public skating
  • Mandatory ice scheduling meetings
  • Restrictions on fee increases
  • Minimum maintenance and capital expenditure requirements
  • Regular Inspections by DCR
  • Insurance and performance bond requirements

Your use of the term privatization is not only wrong technically, it also fails to expose any negative consequences from private companies actually operating rinks. In practice, their ice rental rates are less than municipally operated rinks or the one rink operated by a non-profit. Almost 20 state owned rinks are now operated by private companies. If there were any problems with this arrangement, surely you or someone else would be citing these problems by now. Instead, we hear the repetition of claims, or the use of buzzwords like “privatization” even though no evidence supports them, and much evidence refutes them. If you have specific evidence to the contrary, you owe it to your constituents to present it.

Both you and Senator Joyce have introduced bills that could lead to the Town of Milton leasing Ulin Rink. Provided the Town wishes to get the lease, there is no difference between the bills except that your bill provides for a 20 year lease while Senator Joyce’s is for a 25 year lease. Since the town has indicated it wants to execute a long term lease, what possible reason can you have for not supporting the Joyce bill if it becomes the alternative with the best chance of passage? As you must know, Selectman Shields characterization of the Joyce bill as one that doesn’t guarantee Milton preference is wrong.

Your failure to support a Joyce alternative bill could lead to the worst outcome for users of the rink as well as state taxpayers, who now see a $330,000 drain on rink operations. Each of the Selectmen finds a 5 year permit an inferior option for the town. And yet if you fail to support Senator Joyce’s bill and neither bill passes, the default outcome is the DCR’s 5 year permit.
It’s difficult to understand your opposition since it doesn’t seem to be supported by anything. It leads people to wonder if you are simply unwilling to see Senator Joyce get some credit for the many years he has spent on this issue. Failure to resolve this years ago has cost the Massachusetts taxpayers a great deal of money, and users (and potential users) of the Ulin rink have been served less well than residents of those communities who have embraced non-state operational status.

I urge you to reconsider your position and support whichever of the two bills will pass to allow Milton to proceed under a long term lease.


Philip Mathews

P.S. This letter will be posted to my blog.


Anonymous Steve Morash said...


12:59 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home