The Board of Education wants to solve overcrowding at New Lebanon Elementary School in Byram by constructing a building so large it will accommodate 100 students more than the projected future student population.
No doubt New Lebanon needs a bigger facility; kindergarten has already moved off campus, and grades one-five are packed tight. Common sense would dictate that the existing building be altered or enlarged. Instead a subcommittee came back with plans for a monumentally bigger school, one with at least nine more classrooms than needed. Whence came this idea?
[W]ith three of the nine new classrooms designated for Pre-K (when did the school board decide to expand the Pre-K program?), and let’s say three more needed for the existing population, that leaves three potentially empty classrooms. Seems very wasteful; but maybe the school board can convert them to dormitories and rent them to tourists via airbnb.
…. In the early 2000s, a few then members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation concluded the town had too many firehouses. There are eight, but the 62,000 people and 48 square miles that comprise our town can be covered quite well by four, maybe five fire stations.
In a dramatic give and take between First Selectmen Peter Tesei and his fellow party members on the BET last Thursday afternoon, Tesei argued that the town needed to hire 17 more fire fighters over the next two years and build a new firehouse to cover Northwest Greenwich. He said BET members’ reluctance to make this decision showed “cowardice.”
… One of those allegedly cowardly financiers was BET Chairman Michael Mason, who said the BET was still looking for more comprehensive planning from the Fire Department.
“What’s the overall, long-term plan? How are we going to get there,” Mason asked.
…[T] he town’s record of building firehouses, or any significant building for that matter, is very poor. The new Hamilton Avenue School came in late and millions of dollars over budget. The Police Palace, otherwise known as the Public Safety Complex, was built to be the first half of one building that would jointly house the Police Department, Fire Department administration, and a renovated Central Firehouse.
Those plans were scrapped, and in 2011 Tesei supported, and the BET approved, the building of an entirely new Central Firehouse. Defending his decision to proceed immediately with the new construction, Tesei said the project was “shovel ready,” which were the key buzzwords in the “fiscal stimulus” conversation that dominated national, state, and local economic news during the height of the fiscal crisis.
Now, in 2015, all that stands of the new Central Firehouse is an impressive north wall that physically and symbolically turns the Fire Department’s back on the Safety Complex that was to be part of its new home. ….