For several years various Westwood residents have claimed at Town Meeting, “we were promised a tax reduction with University Station.” When it happened again this year, I decided it was time to set the record straight. I was the University Station Project Manager (formerly Westwood Station) for the town from 2007 through 2014. Prior to that role, I was a volunteer member of the University Avenue Steering Committee. During this time, I attended virtually every meeting of every town board or committee that had a University Ave Redevelopment / University Station topic on the agenda. As I stated at Town Meeting on May 3rd, after yet again hearing people claim otherwise, NO elected or appointed official in Westwood made any representation - express or implied - that the University Station project would lower property taxes. The speaker immediately after me stated, “When I talk to people across the town, for whatever reason, they believe that those were the promises that were made.” The reason for this misperception is obvious - this erroneous claim was made, and then repeated over and over again, for the last six years. Most (including me) share a tendency to believe what we want to believe…but, that does not make a thing true.
I’d suggest that rather than dwell on claims of promises made, we all look at what University Station tax revenues have helped us accomplish. With University Station in place, our town has built two new and much needed public safety facilities, repaired/upgraded existing facilities, supported growth in the school and municipal operating budgets, added to both fire and police personnel, increased our OPEB and Stabilization Fund balances and much more - without a single operating budget override or debt exclusion.
University Station has delivered for our town, without any of the opponent’s predicted doomsday scenarios regarding schools, crime, traffic or municipal costs. Better still, University Station will continue to support the economic stability of our town long into the future.
- Chris McKeown