DERBY - Assistant Principal Colleen Storing provided the school board with an overview of a 3,500 foot long walking path that starts at the school and wraps around part of the Derby Pond area.
Storing said the path is being designed by Ben Partridge of Lake Hills Landscaping who provided an estimate of $31,500. With $10,000 already committed by the board, Storing was seeking funds to complete the project and listed a number of fundraisers that would be used to raise the balance of $21,500.
A coin drop, bottle drive, rummage sale, and a basket sale are being contemplated, as well as selling “squares” on the path.
Storing explained that a basket sale could be full of pet items, or a chocolate lovers basket, for example. People can bid on the basket as a means of raising funds for the path.
Board members Richard Nelson, Arnie Amaliksen and Richard Cartee expressed skepticism over the concept of allocating funds for the project and then waiting for the fund raising process to pay for the path.
“We had that problem,” said Nelson, referring to the track at the high school. “That left a bad taste in my mouth. Once we paid for the balance of the project, the fund raising stopped.”
Approximately $100,000 was raised for a new track at the high school, but the high school board paid for the balance with the understanding that fund raising would continue until the the bill was paid.
Amaliksen agreed. “I learned the hard way that that approach didn't work.” And he stated later, “Be aware of what looks good on paper.... Remember that we have a maintenance cost for the future. The bike path that goes past my house, it was eight feet wide at one point, but with only a few days of maintenance per year, the grass has grown over about 40% of the path.”
Cartee noted an audit performed by the business manager revealed a potential surplus from the past fiscal year in excess of $160,000; the figure is not final. “We can ask voters at town meeting to approve the balance of the funds for the project from the surplus,” Cartee suggested.
The board agreed to release the $10,000 already earmarked and to allow Storing and the students to engage in fund raising activities to pay for the project. The issue of asking taxpayers to approve the use of surplus funds to finance the balance was not a part of the motion.