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Selectmen Candidate Aims to Focus on Property Taxes, Senior Center in Dedham

Resident Dan O'Neil details his plans for property taxes, a senior center and a possible new sports complex.

Dedham resident Dan O'Neil. Credit: Dan O'Neil
Dedham resident Dan O'Neil. Credit: Dan O'Neil

The annual Dedham Town Election is just a few months away and preparations are in motion leading up to when the polls open on Saturday, April 12. 

Current selectmen Sarah MacDonald and Paul Reynolds both announced in January that they would not be seeking re-election this spring, and Dedham TV announced this week that it will hold two special candidate debates in March.

Meanwhile, one new candidate for the Board of Selectmen gave Dedham Patch an inside look at what he hopes to bring to the board if elected this spring. 

"The reason I'm running is, more or less, the crux of it is a lot of progress has taken place in town in a  very short period of time," said Dan O'Neil, a Dedham resident who announced his run for selectmen on Dedham Patch in January. "There's more money coming in, but taxes aren't coming down, and I think that's a big problem."

As a solution, O'Neil said that he has developed a plan to implement a residential exemption that would give a discount on property tax to owner occupied homes in Dedham by about 10 percent. 

"I feel the citizens have been leaned on too long, and I think this way we can give something back to them," he said. 

The tax issue is only one thing O'Neil said he plans to bring to the table if elected, though. 

"My second plan is I want to finally have the senior center situated," he said. "Our seniors are apart of our past and they're still apart of today, and they deserve something. I know that the Ames school house is one of the plans that the town is looking into. I actually used to go to school in the Ames school; it's a beautiful building. I think it would be great for a town hall and senior center."

A third idea O'Neil raised is to create a specific building for local recreational activities. 

"I would like to see us do what I'm calling a Civic Complex, and I'd like to refurbish a building or build a building, to have two basketball courts, an indoor turf field and an indoor track," he said. "The reason for this is, basically, right now we have three basketball programs in town and it's very difficult to get gym time for all practices and sometimes even games."

O'Neil added that having the Dedham Youth Commission involved in an effort to offer more part-time jobs for students in town. 

"With this complex, the uses are endless," he said. "You could do flag-football indoors, indoor soccer on inclement weather days and have adult leagues, we could have other towns use it, we could also have nights designated to come in and have soccer. It could benefit us in so many ways. Many people are getting healthy and at the same time we could make some money."

O'Neil plans to hold a campaign kickoff party on Saturday, March 1 from 5-9 p.m. at the Village Manor downstairs, 429 Sprague St. to elaborate on the plans and projects he'd like to bring to the table. He has explained in a blog on Dedham Patch more of why running for the board is important to him.

Tony Catinella February 22, 2014 at 10:53 AM
I used to be the Dedham Patch editor. I dont know much about the other candidates, but do know that Dan is very involved in the town and would be a great candidate
Rob Allen February 24, 2014 at 11:01 AM
I don't know much about the other candidates, but I do know that Dan has been vocal on a lot of topics. I'm all for Dan's idea of a residential exemption. I'd also like to know what that entails (like the process to get that passed and implemented as well as how long it takes to get in place). I'd also like to see ideas (with some specifics) from any other candidate.
Dan O'Neil February 24, 2014 at 03:43 PM
Hi Rob the soonest we could get a residential exemption for is fy 2016. I would propose it with the board and if it passes the board it would go to town meeting. Unfortunately tge fy 15 budget is being done in March before the election. I found this out from Bill Keegan.
Chris Huntoon February 25, 2014 at 06:28 AM
And what about the small business tax burden in this town. As the 5th generation owner of a small business here in Dedham our tax burden is one of the things that makes it hard to keep our doors open. They open Legacy and any gain in tax revenue is lost in extra policing and road work. Stop spending our money building more 'civic complexes' or manor fields and worry about how awful traffic in Dedham Square is after you dropped all that cash or the potholes that have taken over this town.
Dan O'Neil February 25, 2014 at 06:11 PM
Hi Chris We don't have a civic center . The idea of the complex is to try to up our revenue to take the burden off the tax payers. I'm also proposing a residential exemption to do the same. With the money Legacy should be giving us there should be less of a burden on small business owners and there isn't. I have friends in the square who own businesses and are in the same situation you are. I want to help the tax payers. I think that burden has been on all of us for far too long. I'm running to try to help us all not hurt us. With that complex the uses for it even for outside business from other towns could be endless. Norwood makes money off there civic center it's a revenue source for them. I want to apply that concept here. We deserve better. The reality is this town spends too much money and we pay for it and those projects aren't getting us any revenue in return. I feel for you and if elected I will do whatever I can. That I promise.

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