Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Response to the YMCA proposal

Below is the text of a note sent to the members of the Norwich City Council earlier this morning.

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

I do not know if you have had an opportunity to read Bill Kenney's response to the Norwich Bulletin article "Norwich mayor says YMCA purchase proposal not ready for public." In his riposte, Mr. Kenney note,

"Sadly, revenue shortfalls in recent years have resulted in the City Council approving budgets that less than fully fund programs provided by, and supported through, the Norwich Public Schools and the Otis Library. I believe the latter has actually seen a double digit decline in the level of municipal funding in the last half a decade. Both organizations are critical components to our city's quality of life who've often made do with lip service and diminished dollars. We should consider providing them additional resources that would benefit all of us."

I do encourage you to read the entire piece, which I have attached to this letter. My purpose in bringing his comments to your attention is not to denigrate the effort to provide Norwich with adequate recreational facilities, which are clearly needed. Rather, I want to point out that the library provides many of the functions cited as attributes of the proposed new facility. I want to end with a quote from a letter I circulated among library customers prior to Monday's City Council meeting.

"Otis Library is a community center. It provides free meeting space for community organizations, sponsors and promotes a wide variety of programs for all ages, serves as the most active regional site for Literacy Volunteers, and is one of the few forums in the city of Norwich where people of diverse backgrounds gather in a common space. It is not a recreational facility, and there is no question that such a facility would be a community asset. That said, before embarking on another project it seems sensible to ensure the long-term support and stability of an existing, heavily used asset currently providing essential community centered services. That entity is the Otis Library."

Thank you,

Bob Farwell

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