Schadenfreude: The Glastonbury Boathouse

I walk through Glastonbury’s Riverfront Park on a regular basis. Frankly, most of it just gets in my way. You see, I like to park by the community center, put my dog on a retractable leash, and then walk through the fairgrounds while she runs around sniffing goose poop and rolling on dead things. I’ve done this for years. Then, one day, large machines moved in, put up a fence, and started tearing up the land. As it turns out, those machines were building a boat house, a fountain, and a playground so nice it made me consider having kids just so I wouldn’t look like a weirdo climbing all over the equipment.

My dog used to be able to get her ya-ya’s out before we got over to the other (older) part of the park where there are manicured baseball, soccer, and lacrosse fields–and a dog park. Now, though, there seem to constantly be other people walking their dogs, and their children in the area. (At least the kids are mostly kept behind fences…the dogs are often running wild, because leash laws don’t apply to people in Glastonbury.) One day we were swarmed by so many children wanting to pet my dog I nearly had an anxiety attack, and had to blame it on the perfectly happy pup.

On this same day, The Farmer was with me, and as we looked at the boathouse–which is really more of a giant event space, that happens to have a boat launch–we started wondering about all the ways the $12 million dollars (town and state) spent on this thing may have been better used. Here is a small example of the ideas we had:

  • books for kids in under-performing schools
  • trash pick-up for the citizens of Glastonbury
  • teacher salaries
  • a better teen center for the youth of Glastonbury who are plagued with heroin addiction
  • feeding needy children
  • just about anything other than a glorified banquet hall

I tell you all of this to explain why I think it is so damn funny that the whole thing seems to be moving. Yes, moving. I’ll let Peter Marteka, who is still suffering through the nightmare that is the Glastonbury Town Council, explain:

“Shortly after the park was completed, officials noted vertical and horizontal movement in the concrete terrace directly to the west of the boathouse and the serpentine handicapped accessible ramp leading from the park to the Connecticut River. An area that has been sliding toward the river is from the boat ramp side of the boathouse to the overlook north of the boathouse.”

If I believed in God, I would say he is laughing!

Maybe there is an explanation as to how/why no one anticipated that putting a giant building on a sandy river bank could lead to some problems. Maybe someone did anticipate problems, but not the right ones. Maybe no one bothered to ask the people who built a boat house a couple of miles up the river in Hartford how to avoid these problems. Maybe the problem is just a pesky gopher. But I’m still kind of laughing…

So far, the town has spent another $126k trying to fix the problem, meanwhile, the good people of Glastonbury still have to haul their own trash or pay someone to pick it up. And over at the school board they are trimming a piddly $725k from the school budget to help it squeak in at just under $100 million.

You may think I’m being mean, but here’s the thing: The Asian Persuasion and I are products of Glastonbury Public Schools. Most of our mutual friends are also graduates of GHS. We are all gainfully employed, college-educated folk in our 30s, and not one of us lives in Glastonbury. Why? Because most of us can’t afford it! (Or, at least, we get more for our money in other towns.)

I’ll leave the AP out of this because she married well and could technically afford to live there now , but the rest of us are pretty much SOL. For instance, I bought a house about 3 years ago. I live in East Hartford, just a stone’s throw from the Glastonbury line. My house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and was recently updated. The only options in the same price range in Glastonbury are condos and there aren’t many of them to go around.

Now, the only way I would even live in Glastonbury is if I could live on one of the streets that borders the state forest where witches gather and some people still aren’t hooked up to the electrical grid. (As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like living near rich people.) So it isn’t a big deal that I can’t afford to live there, but there is a larger point to be made.

Connecticut has a young people problem. They move away. Hell, I moved away for a while. Part of the problem is that the places they might actually want to live are unaffordable. When I first started thinking about moving back to the Hartford area I looked around at a lot of options. I looked at renting an apartment in Hartford, but because I needed two bedrooms (I work from home and need an office) the prices in the nice, new buildings were outrageous. There was virtually nothing in Glastonbury for me–even though I’m sure the town would have loved to take my tax money to funnel into the gaping maw of the school budget. (West Hartford was also out of range, and I’m guessing most people my age would be more inclined to live there than in G-burbs.)

So maybe Glastonbury–and towns like it–should dial back the expensive, ambitious construction projects and concentrate on building starter homes for the people who graduated from their expensive schools. (Hint: You might have to find someone other than the Toll Brothers to build it.)