Since Town Attorney Michael J. McDermott saw fit to reference me in his defense of the new policy requiring groups using town hall to have insurance policies (March 23, Page 10), I’d like to share some facts that he omitted from his letter.
The advisability of having a TULIP insurance policy (Tenant User Liability Insurance Policy) was suggested to me in 2010-11 when I was supervisor by the town’s former, and well-respected, insurance broker. I agreed that some insurance was needed but I was also concerned that the board meeting room should be available to legitimate community groups that typically did not have liability policies. The TULIP policy was suggested as a solution that met both objectives. I don’t remember what the premium was, but my recollection is that it was very modest. The majority of the town board did not agree with me, or the insurance broker, and the issue died.
When Mr. McDermott brought up the issue, I suggested he look into the TULIP option. Did he? I’d be curious to know what the cost would be.
There are very, very few meeting places available to community groups, especially ad hoc groups who come together for a specific, and possibly one-time or short-term community purpose, e.g., a meeting to discuss how homeowners could save money on their energy bills or address a neighborhood problem. The Yorktown Garden Club uses the room once a year to make holiday wreaths for public display. For these types of groups, an insurance policy either doesn’t make sense or would be cost-prohibitive.
I disagree with the town attorney when he says that all non-official uses of the board meeting room constitute an illegal gift of public funds. If the town board truly wanted to assist, not hurt, legitimate community groups, whether they liked or disliked what the group was doing, it could draw up a list of acceptable and unacceptable uses. And on the unacceptable list I’d put allowing individuals or groups who want to use the room as free rehearsal space for their private (and possibly profit-making) benefit. That’s clearly a gift of public funds.