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Sports complex a concern of timing, money

Posted: September 22, 2011 8:13 a.m.
Updated: September 23, 2011 5:00 a.m.

I want to begin by commending your excellent, on-going coverage of the sports complex issue. Your most recent article included several statements and issues that I would like to briefly address. Two key issues are clear:

Is a multi-facility rec center/YMCA really needed at this time and is it fiscally advisable to go forward with this project now? The justification for a multi-facility center has been stated to attract sports tournaments to Camden. Mayor Graham has named some others in the state as examples; however, his examples are at two extremes. The first group includes much larger municipalities, mostly in the Upstate, with already spoken-for events. At the other extreme are small communities with few, if any, sports tournaments. (I have personally fact-checked, via the Internet, all of the examples the mayor has given.) Glaringly lacking to date is a specific, independently verifiable list of tournaments that would actually be held here, preferably by entities that have expressed willingness to commit to coming, on the basis of said facility.

Councilman Partin correctly stated that we are a representative democracy. A key aspect of representing others is being accountable to them for actions and results. That being the case, we have an existing facility to go by, which is the Town Green. Although nicely constructed, this facility has hardly become a beehive of activity or a beacon of attraction for numerous festivals in addition to the ones that have been occurring prior to the existence of the Green.

Councilman Long implied this facility is needed to attract back to Camden the Lost Sheep of those who have moved away and implied that the lack of a dazzling sports facility has been a major factor in these folks' decisions. He also said the facility would help attract business to locate here. However, that did not stop Haier and the businesses in the highway 601 Business Park from already moving here.

Mr. Partin also mentioned that the 10-year Comprehensive Land Use Plan was conceived and amply commented upon by the citizens of Camden in 2007 and 2008. He then asked, "What has changed between 2007 and now?”

My question to Mr. Partin is, what planet are you living on sir? Hello -- we are in the midst of the widely labeled Great Recession, which effectively began in the last quarter of 2008, when then-Federal Treasury Secretary Paulsen warned President Bush of an impending crisis: "We are only days away from a complete financial collapse."

This is the worst financial disaster to hit the U.S. and Europe since the Great Depression of the 1930s (ended only by World War II). Yet, Mr. Partin wonders what has changed? To say the least, this alone is a formidable reason to approach the proposed rec center with great caution and deliberation. How about getting more businesses and jobs going first -- use hospitality tax funds to help that cause as the number one priority at this time?

Mayor Graham offered responses from Camden High students. While their comments are interesting, they cannot be taken seriously, because they are adolescents and the decision-making/judgment part of their brains, the prefrontal cortex, is not yet fully developed. Well-documented functional MRI studies have shown this is the last part of the brain to become fully functional and that the process is not complete until at least age 25, regardless of sex. (You can find info on this at the ETV website:

One last suggestion is that it would go a long way toward dispelling grievance for the Citizens Advisory Committee to include at least two members who are chosen "at large," a.k.a. by vote of the citizens of Camden. While the names being considered for this committee appear to be good ones, it is easy for city council to unintentionally select those they know and who might be likely to agree with them.


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