Skip to content

Boyden parking plan has potential flaws

March 26, 2012

The Boyden School PAC has hit upon an interesting idea to raise revenue for a new school playground, but some serious caution is needed before they plunge into it.

According to The Walpole Times, the Boyden PAC is pursuing a plan to sell over 100 parking spaces at the school during football games at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium next year. Not counting insurance and other costs, the plan could generate up to $32,000 per year for the PAC. They intend to put the money towards a $250,000 renovation of the Boyden fields and playground.

In terms of land area, Boyden has the smallest size field space of all schools in Walpole. The estimated cost of $250,000 for a field revamping and new playground seems highly inflated, but since this isn’t tax dollars at play, I’m not going to make a big deal about the cost. The PAC needs to do their due diligence to ensure they are getting the most bang for their buck, and that they won’t be building the greatest and fanciest playground simply because they’ll apparently have an endless revenue stream to do it.

South Walpole residents, who are served by Boyden School, have been putting up with a lot of you-know-what this past decade from living near a stadium, a shopping center, and now a possible casino, MBTA expansion, and wind turbine. I’m all for allowing South Walpole to profit off of the people who routinely trash their neighborhoods on their way to events at the stadium.

Having said that, we all know what’s next. Every level of government just loves a new way to make money so it can keep growing and growing.

That the $32,000 yearly revenue will go towards a new playground and field means little right now. It won’t be long before town officials and other school PACs will start to take notice of the cash cow that Boyden has developed for themselves in South Walpole.

As soon as this playground is paid for and their field is state-of-the-art, does that mean the Boyden PAC will stop selling parking spots? Of course not. The profit potential will just be too great. There’s already talk of eventually expanding the parking to include stadium special events.

The PAC will begin considering stadium parking to be a permanent revenue stream. They will soon become the wealthiest school PAC in Walpole, and will have so much money pouring in that they won’t know what to do with it all.

To put in perspective, the Boyden PAC on its own was able to raise only $15,000 to go towards the new playground. With the parking operation, in just one year the PAC hauls in more than double that amount. Just by using a few parent volunteers between two to four times a month during the fall and winter, the PAC brings in quite a cash flow.

Once the playground and fields are paid for, the PAC could end up using the money to buy new technology and new products for their school as school PACs frequently do. These will be great investments and at no direct cost to taxpayers – but at some point town officials and other schools will start to wonder why they can’t have some of that money too.

There will be a mad dash for the cash as various parties begin claiming some of the revenue. Other school PACs will demand that some of the money be shared with them since they don’t have the ability to sell parking spaces like Boyden does. Then the School Committee will take a look at the cash and decide that they too would like some of it to offset their budget shortfalls. Town Hall will want some of it too. Think of the limitless potential – $32,000 could buy a new take-home car for the town’s municipal vehicle fleet.

Before long, the Boyden School profit-making operation, originally developed with the primary goal of building a new playground, will become a massive revenue generator for the town and there will be an endless debate over where the money should go. There will also be no hope of ever shutting this operation down once it gets going – even if neighbors start getting upset at the littering and loitering being done by those who park there, the PAC and town will keep this parking lot going because the profits will just be too great.

Here’s a fundamental question: Should one school PAC be allowed to have its own profit machine while other PACs have to continue to resort to traditional fundraising by pleading to parents for money?

If Boyden keeps the money all to themselves well after the playground is built, they will be seen as hogs. Their school will have all the newest and greatest things, all paid for by their stupendously wealthy PAC, while other schools will be jealous. If Boyden decides to share some of the money, town officials and other schools will be pleading for their fair share. How much should Boyden be allowed to keep? At what point should Boyden shut off the well and stop dividing it up?

There’s no doubt that $32,000 is a lot of money. Boyden parents should be very pleased with the wonderful profit potential they have discovered. Building a playground is one thing, but as soon as it’s built, where will the cash go, and who will claim it? Is there an exit strategy to ensure the entire operation can be shut down if the town gets too carried away with the revenue infusion?

One Comment leave one →
  1. D. Culhane permalink
    March 26, 2012 8:33 PM

    If the Boyden PAC can do this then the Johnson Middle School PAC should be able to sell stickers for $75 a year or whatever price and let folks park in their parking lot and walk to the train station. They could hand out a list of dates when school is not in session and state that those are the dates that parking is available for those that buy the stickers.

    I would much rather my parking money went to Johnson School then to the company that runs the MBTA parking lot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: