Ex-cop 'baffled' by rejection of new field at Deerfield Park

Ex-cop 'baffled' by rejection of new field at Deerfield Park

As I sat at the Smithfield Financial Town Meeting last week, I was appalled that there were only 128 eligible voters out of approximately 15,000 voters in attendance. Shame on the taxpayers of this town not to attend such an important meeting.

The most upsetting part of the night was that 70 votes eliminated a field for the children of this town. Just to give you a little background on myself: I was raised in the town of Smithfield, the youngest of six children, my mother and late father loved the town of Smithfield and the atmosphere that it presented to the youth of this town. As a child, I wished we had an athletic complex like Deerfield Park to play on. In fact, my father, the late William J. Hawkins, Jr. past president of the Smithfield Town Council, lost an election because of Deerfield Park and the senior center.

As a youth, I remember countless hours that he spent searching for a piece of property in this town that would not only support our seniors but would also give our children a chance to grow and play on the finest fields in the state.

At the Financial Town Meeting, I sat in the back of the high school auditorium and watched as the people who voted against this proposed field raise their hands in objection. Some of these people have lived in the town for years and their children have benefitted from the fine athletic services and programs that the town of Smithfield has offered.

It was also troubling to me that not a single member of our youth sports organization attended this event to support this item in the budget. All of our council members and School Committee members except one voted against this new field for the political reasons of 70 people. I am proud to say, the one vote for the field was my brother, Bernard Hawkins, a member of the Town Council.

Also considered at the meeting was adding a new detective to curb the drug problem in the town of Smithfield. I am in favor of this, being a retired lieutenant on the Rhode Island State Police. However, we will need 10 more detectives in this town to curb an even greater problem because our children will have nowhere else to go but hang out because of the 70 people who voted against another field for our children to play on. In the long run, this will cost the Town of Smithfield more than the proposed $75,000 it was going to cost.

In my opinion, the Town of Smithfield needs to abolish the Financial Town Meeting and put items such as this on a ballot. Our children are our future; don't we want them to be better off than we were? To cut $75,000 from a $62 million budget that would benefit the youth of this town is just baffling to me.

Kevin J. Hawkins

Smithfield