LETTER: Let’s get a plan for Shakespeare

Letter-to-the-EditorNEWTo the Editor:

I support the revitalizing of the Shakespeare theater without impacting Stratford taxpayers. My words are not to undermine the Shakespeare sub-committee, who are very talented people and respected immensely. I agree with the subcommittee’s work to create a non-profit entity to support the theater. It is essential and should continue regardless of whichever theater development company is selected.

However, I do not agree that the Town Council should spend Stratford tax dollars to hire an architect to secure the theater without a comprehensive plan to fully open the theater. This would be bonded money and must be paid back with taxpayer’s dollars. Why embrace a piecemeal plan that may disqualify work from state funding when there are alternatives?

Per the original request for proposals, securing the building was included and funded through the bidder’s proposal without Stratford tax dollars or liability. A remediation proposal from “another” hired architect is unnecessary. We spend so much money on people for redundant work. Securing the theater from weather, animals, up to a full abatement for hazard materials was already documented, funded, and submitted by Elm Street Theater and Stratford Stage Group. Plus, I am concerned that town, rather than the developer, would be responsible for any potential legal claims in the future.

The state will reimburse up to 70% of repairs and abatement in tax credits if it is part of a comprehensive single project to open the theater for performances. That is what we all want – to open the theater. Even if you question the viability of tax credits, the town representatives have a responsibility to vet the Elm Street proposal as the second bidder especially if there is a chance to save taxpayers money.

I ask Ms. Daponte and the Shakespeare sub-committee to immediately re-issue the original RFP (minus any commercial development) with a 30-day window for return bids. There is no reason why the Sub-committee cannot continue to form a non-profit entity and become an advisory board simultaneously as a comprehensive RFP is pursued.

Stephanie Philips

Stratford Democratic Town Committee, Chairperson

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  • Joe Pedoto

    The current dysfunctional and incompetent Town Council continues to serve our town poorly. And please voters, remember that this fall when several of them may run for the top elected office in town.

    That Ms. Daponte and the sub-committee would even consider this plan “…bonded money… paid back with taxpayer’s dollars” amounts to gross negligence, in my opinion.

    It is a further abuse of the hard working citizens of Stratford, already saddled with THE HIGHEST TOWN TAXES IN THE STATE!

    For shame, Ms. Daponte and for shame on the sub-committee!

    Mayor Harkins has long maintained that NO TAXPAYER DOLLARS should be wasted on the ASFT. Despite the false claims of many, the ASFT never provided tax relief for Stratford and was never even a self-sustaining business.

    While reviving it is a legitimate goal, it has long been a political distraction. It is not the most important issue in town, by a long shot. DO NOT SPEND MY TAX MONEY ON THIS!!

  • Joe Pedoto

    I’d just like to add that hundreds of your neighbors lost their jobs this past year due to moves by Optimum and other companies in the area.

    Has the Town Council addressed this or tried to provide any assistance for these struggling families? NO! Not a single word or a single dollar!

    Yet they will fritter their time away and spend your money on the ASFT. If you can’t pay your mortgage or your rent, you certainly can’t buy a ticket to see Hamlet.

    It seems as if a requirement for being on the the Stratford Town Council is utter indifference towards the citizens of Stratford and their very real problems.

  • Friendly Fred

    I say tear that old garbage building down and build as many one bedroom condos as humanly possible. Young folks want to live in a place that is walking distance of the train station, pay stupidly high taxes and with a town publication that is for some reason very scared to publish police reports.

    • Joe Pedoto

      FF: My comment agreeing with you and detailing recent crime in Lordship was just deleted. Some one must be very scared.

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