This Gilman St land giveaway to the Academy certainly caught most people off guard and seemed to be under the radar to most of the town.
The academy promises to allow the taxpayers of Exeter to use the theater they plan to put on this land and will have seating, if I understood correctly, about 350 seats with yet to be resolved parking issues. If I remember right there is about 1,000 students at the academy and about 15,000 residents in Exeter, this could get a little crowded.
For over 60 years that I can remember the taxpayers of Exeter were allowed foot traffic from River St. and Brown’s Court. A few years back due to changes in Academy staff there were gates put in and locked which enhanced privacy to Academy staff living on those streets. The Academy staff has keys to unlock the pedestrian gates to the playing fields for their personnel use.
As told to me by someone I was talking to one of the staff put it simply that, “this is our land not yours”; can’t argue with that.
Some like to argue about all the taxes the Academy pays and it is sizeable; but, they don’t talk about the fact that because of their tax exempt status they are exempted almost the same amount so if they are paying $900,000 a year in taxes than they are exempted 48% of that, I don’t think we get $800,000 in services to the town and we do not know the value of the land we are being asked to give away.
I believe the relationship between the Academy and Exeter has deteriorated in the last 3-4 years which is a shame it is a fine school with many good staff working there.
The issue is credibility and when the Academy spokesman tries to sell us this deal by saying how good this is for Exeter, I just don’t put a lot of credibility in the Academy argument.
I believe there is still room for more negotiations so please vote no and we can go back to the drawing board for better guarantees for an improved relationship.