Greenwich: Hartford, Washington writ small

Greenwich Republican Party: the voice of fiscal responsibility

Greenwich Republican Party: the voice of fiscal responsibility

Our local government has whooped through the Byram pool project – full funding, regardless of ultimate cost. The whole idea of local government, designed by the founders of this republic and advocated by present-day Tea Party types, was that local politicians are closer to their voters and thus more likely to be held accountable. Hell, even our “representative” town meeting is as eager to spew its neighbors’ tax money as the most grasping politician in D.C.

Magic thinking – the road goes on forever, and so does other people’s money.

Tesei was one of many speakers at the RTM in favor of the full pool allocation and said he was pleased with the results as well as the way the debate was conducted.

“It was a very positive sign to see people endorsing the pool as a community priority and I was very happy with the tenor of the debate,” Tesei said. “It was good and respectful and it focused on the merits of the projects not on the personalities of the people.”

65 Comments

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65 responses to “Greenwich: Hartford, Washington writ small

  1. Anonymous

    Any word on if the pool will be open for everyone, or just us Greenwich residents?

    PS: I think the pool is a moronic decision.

    • John M

      I’ve only read about the project on this blog, but based on the comments here, I’m pretty sure it will be open only to Port Chester residents. I think there will be some sort of shuttle bus from downtown Port Chester to the beach. Maybe Greenwich residents will be allowed in as guests, I don’t know.

  2. Buck Swope

    It’s not the measly 9.5 million being spent on this park that are killing this town. It’s the minimum 2.5% GWI, plus steps, plus out of control health insurance cost that are built into every labor contract we’ve got. The vast majority of the town money is spent for salaries and benefits, and the BET or RTM has little control over those due to state arbitration regulations.

    And lets not forget the state prevailing wage regulations when the bids for the pool start rolling in. What a private pool costs to build will not even compare when the labor is making 2X-3X the regular market rate.

  3. Anonymous

    Of course it is a moronic decision. But this is what you get when elected officials make careers of running for office. Tesei is a great example. He now plans on rushing through a new school that is going to be built in a ravine. Tesei of course will take no responsibility when this new school cost thousands of dollars over budget. And it will. I support a new school but anyone with a brain cell in place would agree that building a new school in a ravine near wetlands is idiotic. Demolish the current school and build a new one. Have plans been developed for that sceneio?

    • John M

      Of course not – that would make too much sense. If they demolished the current school, then those kids would have to be bused to one of the schools with spare capacity, and there’s no way that’s going to happen.

      • Anonymous

        Why not? The kiddies will be fine for year! Stop crying wolf and exaggerating. Demolish and rebuild. This will be a much quicker and may I add less expensive alternative. It will also get the kiddies into a beautiful facility in a year as opposed to 3.

    • Don’t forget our RTM members, who also went along with this bull shit project, as well as the GHS Music Palace. Unfortunately, only the most bored of our neighbors are willing to serve on the RTM (I myself suffered through two terms out of a delusional idea of public service, and couldn’t endure), so there’s no competition for the slots. In that sense, we have no one to blame but ourselves. I’m looking forward to getting out of here and moving to a small town with an annual town meeting, where each citizen can vote, rather some well meaning, but puffed-up “representatives”. I lived in the small town of South Holden, Maine for while, and it was amazing how the citizens fiercely protected their wallets.

      • Publius

        Ironically CF, I live in such a town in CT that has town meetings and you can vote on the town and school budgets, as separate items, every year. I did so last night. The issue you have is that the participation tends to be very low unless there is some hot button issue, voter turn out tends to be under 25-30%. Better still, people that have second homes in the town can vote on the town and school budgets, the requirement is that is you live in the town or own at least $1,000 of taxable property in the town, you can vote. There has been many a budget, mostly the school budget that has been shot down by the weight of the 2nd home owners, particularly if there is a large capital expenditure. The only issue that you face is that the State and Federal spending is out of control and local fiscal prudence is swamped by those levels of government.

    • Anonymous

      Demolishing the current school & building a new one may be the way to go but it’s not up to Tesei. Contact the Board of Education & Superintentant because they are driving the truck!

  4. I assume it will be, for all practical purposes, restricted to Greenwich residents, with the usual deterrent for non-residents having to go to Town Hall during business hours to buy $10 per person permits for a day’s use. Other than Byram residents and Junior League members, I doubt anyone will use it, and even the Jr. Leaguers are unlikely to appear after the grand opening.

    • John M

      Sarcasm aside, I suspect the current access policy will stay unchanged; the $10/day rule will apply, as CF noted. Minor correction – in addition to Town Hall, the two Civic Centers will sell the passes on various days of the week during the season; see http://www.greenwichct.org/government/departments/parks_and_recreation/park_beach_tennis_passes/ for details.

      • Just so long as it’s inconvenient to out-of-towners, and our civic centers certainly are, the purpose is served. Did you know, by the way, that the town also changed its policy so that summer renters can no longer get beach passes? Used to be, you showed a lease for a month or more and you could get a pass; no longer. I don’t have any numbers for how many renters that cost – how do you prove a negative? – but for those Greenwich property owners who used to rent out their homes during the summer (as my own mother did, to pay her property taxes for the year), it’s been an expensive “solution” to a non-existent problem.

    • Anonymous

      It is up to the board of selectmen to write the pool usage policy — resident vs non-resident. Do you feel that the $9.5+M project should be open to the public while communities like Scarsdale, NY has 4 community pools but it’s only open to Scarsdale residents?

      • Accolay

        I’m surprised Scarsdale does public pools – strikes me as more of a club place.

      • housecat

        If those pools are owned by the town of scarsdale and run with public funds, then I’m surprised they haven’t been sued yet. GW had the resident-only policy in the past. I’ll leave it up to you to guess what happened.

  5. Cos Cobber

    My biggest beef with the pool is not the pool itself, its the fact that we are going to let the town run it. The town cannot run this pool. Everything they run turns to crap and is overstaffed with ‘friends’ from Pemberwick and Cos Cob (I’m a Cobber, so I can say that). A non profit group needs to run the pool (and not GEMS!). Someone who will be disciplined to staff it appropriately, coordinate programs and maintain it. Will there be pool cards like we have tennis cards (which are so friggen stupid – it should be covered under the beach card)? There should be a pool card with the pool card money used to determine the staffing.

    • In fact, I think the town could hire a private company to build and staff and maintain the site at far less cost, even with a subsidy from the town to help the poor (so poor, in fact, that, according to supporters, that they can’t afford the ferry to Island Beach). Screw the non-profit: someone looking for profit would have an incentive to run a lean operation, something our government has no interest in doing.

  6. Anonymous

    FYI, the Rocky Point Club in OG just completely rebuilt two very large pools that sit right on LIS for around 2mill all in.

  7. Mickster

    Morons one and all. We can’t maintain what we already have. Again we’re adding to the Town payroll.

  8. Chucky

    Any predictions on final cost for this boondoggle? I’m guessing at least $15 if not $20mm.

  9. Didn’t the BET cut this project from $11.5 million originally to $9.7 million, and mandate a second redesign option at $7.8 million? The park project is more than just the pool. The pool itself will cost $2.5 million (included above), fully paid by contributions raised by the Junior League women. Essentially no taxpayer money for the pool itself.

    This park project will get generations of Greenwich residents outdoors, a good thing. A better use of money than elaborate schools with excessive staffing by teachers with above-market union salaries and benefits.

  10. CatoRenasci

    What is exceedingly frustrating is that, as Balzac points out, nobody really knows what the project is – but the Junior League said they’d pull out if we didn’t fund the whole enchilada right now! And Tesi and the whoopers told us it was for the children and despite their having not done the planning, it was a tragedy it wasn’t finished yet.

    They stampeded the sheep in the RTM, despite the fact that FOUR of the RTM Committees – BOC, Finance, Parks & Recreation, and Public Works – voted to cut the project until the Town got its act together.

    The RTM is supposed to be the final decision maker in the Town, but has become a rubberstamp body. Labor contracts are demoralizing because of the state laws which make rational bargaining impossible. And, of course, there plenty of Town/Teachers Union members on the RTM…. conflict much!

    This Town is cruising for a tax brusing as the pension funds continue to underperform and costs keep going up.

    Smart money doesn’t live here anymore.

    • Anonymous

      Smart money is buying $100 million condos in socialist Manhattan and buying $170 million Picassos.

  11. Disgusted RTM Member

    We were told that after funding 2 years ago $400,000 for the Town to create a construction/operating plan the Town NEVER produced anything. You would think it would end there. Not in this Town. The brain trust that is Tesei and the BET Chair Mike Mason continued to bring this to the RTM.

    With Junior League holding firmly the balls on this one (literally!) they informed the RTM they WALK if they don’t receive the FULL $9.5 million not a dollar less was acceptable even they know how little information is known.

    So, with No A&E drawings, no operational plan, no completion of Soil remedition of the arsenic—-Tesei, the BET, and us the worthless RTM approved the full $9.5 million.

    Yes, there are conditions—and I can’t wait when Jim Lash is brought on to the BET to review his wife’s plans who is running the Junior League project. The nepotism is sickening.

    BTW, last year this project was presented at $7.5 million–then the Town found soil contamination—but wait lets jack up the cost more and throw some $$$$$ to friends riends and family of $3.4 million in “new expenses” and the cost rose to $11.3 million. Then it was brought down to $9.5 million—between a discussion of Republicans and Dems—and still with no more than 30%A&E drawings developed.

    Who on this blog would ever build an addition or renovation or a pool—with 30% of A&E and no idea what it will costs to maintain?

    OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY.

    So, when Tesei and Co. complain about “state mandates” and “unions” breaking the bank in this Town—pardon me as I go throw up. Imagine all that goes on without the level of scrutiny this project was given.

    • Buck Swope

      As an RTM member, did you propose a single reduction elsewhere in the thousands and thousands of line items in the rest of the budget, or are you one of those members who just gets up and says “its too much” without doing the only thing the RTM has the power to do, which is proposing specific reductions to specific spending codes?

  12. Ghost of the FAR Czar

    Bottom line is that the growth in the grand list will continue to bail these fiscal jackasses out. As long as they can deliver on their promises of a 2-3% annual growth in the mill rate, 90% of the public won’t care about how stupid they are with the Town’s money. It’s going to take some real bad juju on a number of fronts for things to move off that track. But if that ever happens, a lot of people in Town Hall will have some ‘splainin to do.

  13. FF

    OK, fiscal hawks. Give me some names for First Selectman to run against Peter Tesei? You know he’s on the ballot, you know that with all this complaining you will vote for him again, as you have done so many times. And you will do so because you will complain that the Democrat is worse. So here’s your chance …… Greenwich has 9,000 Democrats, give me a name on someone you would vote for. Or, in the alternate, give me the attributes you would vote for. Be reasonable in your assessments and maybe some kind of agreement/coalition could be found. otherwise we run a good liberal and you” hate yourself for voting for Peter again

    • Cos Cobber

      The problem FF is that you’ll be looking for a 5% tax increase, to triple town borrowing and to add staff to every department. I’m sure you’ll also find the time to pass a few more clever work rules, permit a bit more featherbedding and make life for the non union member difficult.

      Local/state level democrats are sadly just unionized public employee reps in drag. Most don’t make any attempts anymore to hide it either.

      • CatoRenasci

        CC is right of course – we end up holding our noses and voting for Tesi or some other Republican who will do damage because the Democrats cannot</i be trusted at all. Chances are many independents in this Town are even more fiscally conservative than the Republicans, who really are just the “in” power group for historical reasons.

    • FF, I don’t know her party affiliation, but I have been continually impressed by what I’ve seen from Lucia Jansen. She actually seems smart, capable, and very fiscally prudent. Knowing what I know now – which admittedly isn’t much – I think I’d vote for her in a heartbeat.

    • Riverside Dog Walker

      Jill Oberlander. She seems to have a brain and energy. Unlike the guy who beat her in the state representative race. Mrs. RDW and I would vote for her.

      • CatoRenasci

        I know and like Jill – I’ve worked with her. She is terrific, but when push comes to shove she’s a Democrat. Personally, she’s fiscally responsible but could not stand up to the Party. Irony is that there were Republicans who thought she should be nominated by the ‘pubbies to the BET. I think she would be good on the BET from either party, but as a selectman would be too much a Democrat, beholden to the unions and the party. Pity.

        • Anonymous

          Jill lost because of her arrogance ..
          Because she thinks she is smarter than she actually is. Trying talking to her. I really do recommend ralking to her.

    • hmmm

      Put up a true fiscally conservative independent. There are more registered independents than either party, correct?

      You don’t win because you’re stubborn. Most people do not agree with the spend spend spend policies supported by Jeff and John and the rest of your crew. Stop spending and you will win.

  14. Independent

    FF, no offense but I think the both Dems and Republicans are self dealing, compromised, shills to special interest, unions, and Townies. The Byram Pool is Exhibit A where both Dems and Repub were coordinated in slamming this down—KNOWING it was a bare bones plan developed by incompetent fools at Town Hall.

    I’d like to see an Independent–and while you are at it—lets actually restructure the Town governance since clearly the FS and BET ONLY worry is to get elected / re-elected and decisions are ALL under political party purview. We independents dont have a shot on any board with the Rules of the Game in this Town.

    Who those candidates could be—I have no idea. I could give you experience and characteristics that could be helpful.

    Oh, but imagine the surprise for the individual once they get to Town hall and learn the level of incompetence running the departments. How do you clean house in a building full of union workers with lifetime employment? And, even if you fire them its the LIFO system who goes…making the whole effort pointless.

    Face it—its like an earlier post said—the Grand List will grow despite the incompetence and mismanagement—and the growth has nothing to do with Town Hall.

    The private sector such as the generous Dalio’s, Malkins, and others will fund the lovely quality of life items that the Town is incapable of planning and doing.

    And, the beat goes on.

  15. Greenwich Taxpayer

    Kudos to those who stood up AGAINST the pool but were voted down by IDIOTS who have made the legislative body in this town IRRELEVANT. It is sickening to hear those that voted for the pool TRUSTING the BET and First Selectman to build the pool without any other input from the very people who will be PAYING for it. There is NO system of checks and balances in this Town. And now I hear Jim Lash is vying to get on to the BET on the Republican side. He did so well as First Selectman that the Republicans will now give him the purse strings. More money down the drain. It is so sad. Of course the Democrats have John Blankley and Jeff Ramer who want to spend even more of our money. The RTM is simply a social club, not an important arm of our Town government that holds the BET spending in check.

  16. Anonymous

    I agree with Buck Swope and can’t believe this continues as everyone turn a blind eye and accepts this as normal play.

  17. Anonymous

    If this pool is actually built, please take away the splash pad. Splash pads are for water parks- pools are for swimming. The few splash pads I’ve seen were filled with unsupervised toddlers in swim diapers- kind of gross (and I’m a mom) and does not teach one to swim.

  18. Anonymous

    Anon at 2:44pm….wake up and smell the chlorine. You are a day late and a dollar (or shall I say $9.5 MILLION dollars) short. The only votes are from the Junior League and the Budget Estimate and Taxation board. Town residents and taxpayers have been shunt out….and guess what the splash pad stays….just ask the Junior League ladies.

    • Anonymous

      Funny thing about chlorine- you only smell it when it binds with pee! So yeah, they’ll be smelling it a lot!

  19. Riverslide

    Why don’t we lease (for $1 per year for 20 years) the land where the pool will go to The Junior League — or to some independent new entity, like was set up for the boat clubs?

    Then they can build the pool for a couple of hundred thousand and run it, for a tenth of what it would it would cost the town (with unions, prevailing wage issues, insurance, bureaucracies, etc.) The town could still pay for a big hunk of it and for the operating expenses; I don’t think too many taxpayers would mind, as long as the amount was very reasonable.

  20. Hilltopper

    Check out what SF, a liberal place can do for $9mm. Four seasons to boot.
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Boys-Girls-Club-opens-9-million-clubhouse-in-6073606.php

  21. Accolay

    I know this is an unpopular opinion on here – and I’m all for conservative financing – but Greenwich does have one of the lowest (lowest?) property taxes in the area.

    • hmmm

      Acc,

      This has nothing to do with conservative fiscal policy, if you haven’t been paying attention the town has been on a spending spree as if it was other people’s money…

      The real reason for the perception of low taxes is due to the fact that 50 percent of the kids in this town attend private schools. Just realize that this town does not have the resources to accomondate all of the children in this town if everyone decided to go the public school route

      Don’t be fooled and pay attention

    • In the land of the midgets

      Accolay at 7:10 am…..what is your base comparison? Greenwich is the 6th highest tax levy in the state…more than other Towns with higher incomes such as Ridgefield and Fairfield.

      Of course, Greenwich is lower than Westchester or parts of NJ..—but those states are in their own race to the bottom. Have you checked out what trouble property values are in for Scarsdale, etc given that no one wants to buy into the excessive property taxes.

      And, wait until Malloy and team impose taxes on CT services, vets, anything they can put their sticky UNION fingers on….and of course the new car tax.