Opinion: Public and private partnerships are good

Mar 25, 2024

To the editor:

A perfect pairing comes to mind with the town engaging in a partnership with the Burgo Basketball Association (BBA) to build a recreation center in this community. With the patience of a saint exemplified by Steve Burgo, I would argue it took an unreasonably long period of time to sign a 30-year lease with the BBA, defying common sense. At its March 11 meeting during which the lease agreement was announced, the Select Board behaved as if a victory lap on their part was in order. What took so long? 

Steve Burgo’s BBA has an impeccable track record: offering recreational activities and coaching kids; nurturing budding athletes; teaching important life skills; and keeping kids off the street. BBA is a facility that is open to all. I would add a success rate we should all be proud of. A regional indoor recreational facility is the next giant step.

The McBratney parcel donated to the town stipulates that it can never be sold therefore Burgo has had no other choice but to lease the property. A thirty-year lease at minimum was the only way for Burgo to achieve the ambitious goals he’s set for decades, with 10-year leases which created too much uncertainty for donors and long-term goals. 

If only the town had that much vision! Instead, it’s pushing hard to build a recreation facility of its own in the same general vicinity to cost taxpayers $20 million and who knows how much money to operate it. Why? The Select Board speaks of a recreation center in the same breath as it acknowledges the urgency to upgrade our water and sewer treatment plant and other dire funding needs. I’m not sure what expertise the elected Select Board claims to have, but I would argue that BBA has a proven track record of expertise for offering a variety recreational activities and sports offerings to augment what the area schools offer. And BBA knows how to do partnerships and fundraising to achieve their goals. Can the town claim the same?

What’s the agenda here? To restrict and limit the uses to Dartmouth residents only? Unacceptable. Control? That’s a tough sell. Everyone put on your big boy pants and work together to make this happen. I knew the late Dr. J. Greer McBratney quite well and I’m sure he would agree with me. 

Diane Gilbert

Dartmouth, MA