Tag Archives: MISA

And as our new money pit in Byram inches deeper, here’s an old friend come back to visit

Greenwich High School SRO

Greenwich High School SRO

More money allocated to the Music Palace at GHS, now budgeted at $46 million and climbing, from its original budget of $28.

The Board of Education on Thursday approved a request for an additional $2.37 million in contingency funds for the construction of the new performing arts complex at Greenwich High School, a move that responds to cost overruns produced by an unforeseen scope of environmental remediation work and construction delays.

[Joe Ross, Building Committee Chairman] acknowledged that the remediation needed to address contaminated soil in the MISA footprint has exceeded Building Committee members’ expectations.

“The types of contaminated soil that we had were in different areas, they were in larger areas than we thought, and they were at different elevations,” Ross said.

“There is more and deeper contaminated soil on the site than we originally thought?” board member Peter Sherr asked.

“That’s correct,” Ross replied.

MISA’s fiscal challenges are stark. The project started with a total contingency of $3.8 million, including a $500,000 allocation for unforeseen environmental costs. So far, the Building Committee has approved $1.7 million of change orders, representing 45 percent of the total contingency, according to a Building Committee report to the school board. Of that amount, $1.3 million relates to environmental costs and $360,000 goes to other parts of the project.

But the Building Committee also forecasts another $1.16 million in potential change orders — although some of them might not be carried out — as well as $400,000 in additional construction manager or “soft” costs.

At the last count, MISA’s total construction costs were estimated at about $43.7 million. Adding another $2.37 million would raise that total to $46.1 million.

Ross also reported that the cofferdam surrounding the orchestra pit is now holding off major leakage. The cofferdam has required reinforcements in response to significant seepage in recent months. [emphasis added]

School board members also pondered what challenges could emerge during the next planned construction phase — demolition of the current auditorium and construction of instructional music spaces in that footprint.

“Is that a concern of yours, that when we start digging in the instructional space, we’re going to find more surprises?” Adriana Ospina asked.

“There has been little environmental testing by us, because it was an active auditorium, so for me to say that we’ve tested and that there’s no evidence of that wouldn’t be correct,” Ross responded.

Just for fun, here’s an op-ed from the BOE members in 2012, when the cost of MISA was still (sic) estimated at $34 million (original 2008 estimate, $28 million) compared to today’s $46:’MISA Is Not a Money Pit’

Greenwich Board of Education op-ed outlines reasons why Greenwich HS MISA project should stay on track.

There are five powerful reasons for moving forward with MISA, the GHS Music Instructional Space and Auditorium project at the high school, specifically:

The support for MISA is large and widespread, going beyond the traditional school community.

  1. It is time to fix the undersized and substandard facilities that have hampered the high school since its initial construction.  The current facilities do not meet the educational needs of our students and are smaller than recommended by state standards.
  2. RTM approval does not initiate spending. The BET has conditioned their approval so any spending will require approval by the BET.  Additionally, if project bids exceed the funded amounts (of $33,815,000 total project cost before state reimbursement, which could be as high as $4.9 million, and $1.2 million in private donor contributions), the project would need to return to the RTM for approval before contracts are signed.Here Here the facts underlying each of these issues:

… MISA is not a “money pit,” as some have called it. There is a system of checks and balances for this project. The Building Committee has identified and estimated environmental costs related to its construction. These estimates are based on good information on the type and amount of contamination. Going out to bid will allow the true costs of the project to be better understood. The bids we receive will be most competitive if the funding is not phased. Once firm bids are received, the Building Committee is required to review the total project cost with the BET prior to the release of any construction funds. If the project costs exceed the appropriation, the Building Committee would need to seek an interim appropriation from the BOE, BET and RTM.

… We look forward to taking this project to the next step after four years of careful planning and vetting of the MISA project.

Greenwich Board of Education members:

  • Steven Anderson
  • Jennifer Dayton
  • Nancy Kail
  • Leslie Moriarty
  • Barbara O’Neill
  • Adriana Ospina
  • Peter Sherr
  • Peter von Braun
 Just to remind us, next time we consider whether it’s worth reporting to a polling station to decide between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, Republican BET Chairman Michael Mason provided the deciding vote to go forward with the MISA boondoggle, and is now championing the Big Dig in Byram.


Filed under Uncategorized

Bob Horton poses an interesting question: what’s under the high school playing fields that our selectmen don’t want us to know about?

After attending their anti-gun demonstration to "save the children", Greenwich selectmen head to the high school to assure parents that their children are safe

After attending an anti-gun demonstration to “save the children”, Greenwich selectmen head to the high school to assure parents that their children are safe

The Selectmen are using our tax dollars to appeal a FOI ruling concerning PCBs at the site

Something about the increasing size and intensity of the PCB dumping grounds at Greenwich High School has town officials spooked, and they don’t want the public to know what it is.

That’s the inescapable conclusion drawn from the Board of Selectmen’s decision to appeal a recent state Freedom of Information Commission ruling that ordered the town to make public all discussions and documents presented at an illegal, closed-door meeting held last fall by the boards of Estimate and Taxation, Selectmen and Education.

Horton speculates, as have others here on FWIW, on the reason for the silence:

I suspect that the ultimate cost of this project is what has our elected officials so concerned, as well they should be. The bigger this cleanup gets, the more expensive it is. And if PCBs have migrated off the GHS site, that opens up liabilities that might dwarf the remediation costs at GHS.

I also agree with Bob’s concluding paragraph:

Opponents of the new high school wing seem to think the town would not be facing this problem if we never excavated the site. But with just one public high school serving Greenwich, building expansion was inevitable. The new wing just happened to be the project underway at the time.

I’d add, however, that many people’s objection to MISA had nothing to do with the then-unknown PCB problem and centered instead on the sheer cost of the construction itself which, we predicted, would balloon way past the estimates. That has happened – from a $29 million original estimate, we’re already past $43 million, and no more than $3 million of that is attributable to PCB remediation, which hasn’t even begun.



Filed under Uncategorized

This should be news to no one except, perhaps, Peter Tesei

No-show ground breaking ceremony*

No-show ground breaking ceremony*

Soil remediation at high school now projected to take “longer than hoped”.

But good news: we have clearance to take some of the arsenic away.

Soil remediation at Greenwich High School could take as long as four years instead of two, Public Works officials say, following a state agency’s announcement that it will not approve plans to remove PCBs from the ground in time for work to begin this summer. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is, however, expected to approve plans for arsenic removal on the site’s south side early next week.

“This means instead of a 2-3 year project, we have a 3-4 year project,” Public Works Commissioner Amy Siebert in an email to Greenwich Time.

Construction crews first discovered PCBs and other contaminants in July 2011, shortly after beginning work on the high school’s $44 million musical instruction and auditorium complex. Once the town adopted a remediation plan, a start date of July 2014 was set.

However, technical and regulatory complications will prevent the bulk of the plan from going forward along that timeline, said Peter Hill, supervising environmental analyst with the DEEP remediation division.

While arsenic removal remains slated to go forward this summer, it is only a minor part of the overall remediation effort, with PCBs playing a much larger role. The chemical’s presence is restricted to the southern portion of the high school campus, separate from PCB-affected areas.

Hill said the review of the plan has taken into account a large number of factors — both the pollution conditions and the town’s handling of them — in hopes of ensuring the viability and effectiveness of remediation.

“We evaluate the project document, including the remedial action plan, the investigation, the feasibility study and any other pertinent information [emphasis added] to determine if the investigation is complete and if the remedy is protective of human health,” said Hill. “The goal is to ensure that the school will be safe.”

DEEP analysts aim to approve the remainder of the clean-up plan by this time next year.

“We hope that the outstanding details can be resolved this year so remediation can continue in the summer of 2015,” he said. “We are working with the town and the EPA to work toward this goal.”

Brave faces all around

BET officials said they don’t expect the long-term construction costs of the project to change drastically due to the elongated timeline.

[BET Chairman Michael] Mason said the reallocation of funds would not likely have a significant impact on the town’s proposed $396 million budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The DPW had projected a $6 million request for remediation in 2015-16, a number now liable to increase.

[E]ven with the hampered progress, officials are optimistic. Some had worried that the DEEP would not approve any part of the remediation plan in time to include adequate funds in this year’s budget, stopping the project in its tracks. Now, any progress is good progress.

“If we can at least get started on the south side, that will help keep things moving,” said Siebert.

“It’s a positive for the town that the project will be proceeding this summer, if only on a reduced level,”said Leslie Tarkington, BET liaison to the MISA building committee.

Brace yourself, Bridget, there’s a shit storm coming, to the tune of a billion or so.

* Not a single one of our town leaders had the balls to show up for the official ground breaking ceremony last year, when construction resumed after a two-year hiatus for the soil remediation to be “completed” – they knew to stay away.

[July 13, 2013] On Monday, a row of hard hats perched atop gleaming shovels lay against a trailer near the construction site, props that would ostensibly be used during a groundbreaking ceremony. But no one claimed them for grinning photo-ops. Instead, Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty ventured out at midday as the sole town official to pay a brief site visit.

All of this is exactly as predicted by the Lovable Whack Job, Bill Efros, and FWIW’s official geologist, Michael Finkbeiner.


Filed under Uncategorized

Selfish, maybe; futile? We folded like a wet hanky

Not to be built

Not to be built

A reader inquires about the identity of the Bill Effros who’s providing so much information here on the ongoing MISA fiasco and asks,

Is this the same Mr. Effros whose pursued the selfish and futile litigation over the GHS fields’ lights for years? Became so personally obsessed with the football team playing 3 or 5 night games annually on the GHS site that the town was obliged to obtain an injunction prohibiting him from disrupting town meetings on the topic?

Yes he is, but if you want to know the result of that “futile” litigation, he sets it out here. What the hell was the town thinking to agree to this?


The “Stadium Lights Settlement” proposed by the Town of Greenwich and accepted, without modification, by neighbors, is quite specific. In essence, neighbors dropped 3 lawsuits blocking installation of the light poles, in return for stipulations by the Town of Greenwich that the entire property could not ever be rezoned from R-12 and R-20, and that all restrictions placed on the entire property, since it was assembled as a High School, would be strictly enforced, in perpetuity, with the exception of the use of the Stadium Lights and walkway lights which could be used on 3 Friday nights a year, for regular season home varsity football games.

The high school is in a “dark zone”. It cannot be used at night. It must remain dark, even when the 3 permitted football games are played.

When Town attorneys presented this Settlement to Stamford Superior Court, the Judge was incredulous, and refused to believe The Town was prepared to give up so much, to get so little; notwithstanding assurances from Town Attorneys they had authority to sign the Stipulations and Court Ordered Judgments.

I’m not sure, but I think I might have soiled my pants when I learned from my attorneys The Judge had not accepted The Settlement as presented, and had instructed Town Attorneys he would not accept the Settlement until the ramifications were explained, in detail, by The TOG Legal Department, in Executive Session, to The Board of Education; The Selectmen; The Superintendent of Greenwich Public Schools; The Planning and Zoning Commission; The Wetlands Commission; and The Representative Town Meeting; and voted on by those town agencies in recorded votes.

Town Attorneys returned to Court on 3 occasions to request a waiver of the “vote” requirement. The Judge refused, and threatened to send out marshals to round up Board members who had not yet voted on the Settlement. He would not authorize the Settlement until Town Attorneys could prove all parties to the various suits understood and approved it in recorded votes.

It took 6 months before all the required votes were taken. The Judge told me and my attorneys to go into an antechamber where the Town Attorney would tell me and my attorneys exactly what he had told Town Agencies, to ensure we all had the same understanding of the implications of the Settlement, before he handed down 3 Stipulations and Court Ordered Judgments on July 22, 2003.

I have remembered that judge in my prayers, every night since.

Bill Effros


Filed under MISA

The Big Dig

What sink hole? This was part of the plan all along, trust us.

What sink hole? This was part of the plan all along; trust us.

Bill Effros, a/k/a Lovable Whack Job, has a lengthy comment posted in the comments section about MISA and our impending doom. I’d hate to see it buried there, so I’m reposting it here.

You have visualized correctly, however that was not the calculation used by BOE in order to propose putting the bottom of the foundation 15 feet above sea level.

The architects claim they were told the building itself could be 45 feet above ground level, that they had to wind up with 750 on-site parking spaces, and that they had to bring in the project for $15 million.

Their original proposal called for building a new auditorium 45 feet high over a 2 level parking garage. There were only 2 flies in this ointment. First, it boosted the projected cost above $25 million. And second, the acoustic engineers told BOE the acoustics in the new auditorium would be no better than the acoustics in the old auditorium unless the interior dimension from the top of the stage to the bottom of the ceiling was at least 67 feet.

So, the parking garage was eliminated, and a 70 foot high building was proposed that would extend only 45 feet above ground level, and 25 feet below ground level.

That was when someone pointed out that this 70 foot high auditorium had been designed without any foundation to hold it up. The architects went back to their drawing boards, and returned with a 15 foot high mechanical section, under the stage, that would house massive elevator machinery capable of raising and lowering an entire 170 member chorus; in addition to giant sump pumps and electrical generating equipment needed to get rid of the water that would inevitably flood into the huge underground chamber, now extending 40 feet below ground level.

Site Plans for the western side of the MISA Auditorium show a ground level ranging from 40 to 45 feet. That meant the piles for the foundation would be driven directly into the Long Island Sound seabed–a dicey proposal from an engineering standpoint, and one sure to raise the building cost to unacceptable levels.

This problem was solved by producing site plans in which the ground level was changed from 40-45 feet to 50-55 feet. Now the base of the building would start 15 feet above sea level, and the piles could be driven into the solid rock below.

Yes, of course, the building would extend 55-60 feet above the actual ground level, but who would notice? What could they do? It would be too late.

Enter the PCBs.

In 2011, without approval for the changed architectural plans, BOE started digging, only to discover the 10 feet of fill, added to the 40-45 foot ground level in the fields behind the high school, contained massive quantities of PCBs and other known carcinogens.

Construction stopped and testing began. “The soil borings will be completed using a Geoprobe direct-push drilling machine” according to a BOE press release. Samples were collected, some to a depth of 45 feet without ever hitting rock. Those samples went no deeper only because the testing equipment was incapable of going deeper.

While the MISA site plan indicated rock below the surface, in fact, in many locations, there was no rock at all–just solid peat topped off with PCB contaminated fly ash and top soil, sitting on the Long Island Sound seabed. There was nothing to build the foundation on.

The Toxic Substances Control Act Administrator’s conditional approval letter of Dec. 3, 2012 requires, among other things, 5 foot thick solid reinforced concrete encapsulation of PCBs not removed from the GHS site. This encapsulation must be compliant with EPA regulations, and must completely contain all PCBs left under the MISA foundation, so that not a single PCB molecule can ever escape either into ground water or surface water. Monitoring equipment must be installed, and maintained, in perpetuity, to ensure PCB encapsulation compliance, forever. These terms are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency in the form of a “Perpetual Deed Restriction” which requires disclosure of the encapsulated PCBs every time any neighboring property is transferred or mortgaged. (Mortgages are not offered by many lending institutions to properties adjacent to PCB storage facilities.)

BOE told us the “Coffer Dam” would do the trick. It has not.

BOE has always known it is at least impractical, probably impossible, and certainly astronomically expensive, to build MISA as shown in the plans presented to The Planning and Zoning Commission, PZBA, BET, Selectmen, RTM, EPA, The Army Corps of Engineers, CT-DEEP, IWWA, The Conservation Commission, The Press, and the public.

BOE never had any intention to build MISA as shown in those plans; they intended only to use the plans to get final approvals. Then they intended to build almost all of the building above ground, through a series of work-order changes that would have more than doubled the approved cost, and resulted in the largest building in the Town of Greenwich, located on property zoned “residential”, without adequate parking, 3 times as high as permitted pursuant to stipulations contained in court orders, and rented out as a commercial facility to generate revenue.

The discovery of PCBs changed everything, and BOE has been backed into trying to build MISA, from a point 15 feet above sea level, according to plans everyone knows cannot possibly work.

The only real question is how much more money TOG taxpayers will have to spend to unwind this situation..

Bill Effros


Filed under MISA

And the MISA saga continues

I know I dropped my wallet in here SOMEWHERE

I know I dropped my wallet in here SOMEWHERE

GT reports, two weeks after a FWIW reader did, that groundwater seepage has “slowed” construction of the money orchestra pit and hence, the rest of the project.

This is a separate issue from the soil contamination problems, yet to be reported anywhere but here, but it’s coming.

Hold on to your checkbook.


Filed under MISA

Just for the record, there were people who opposed the Music Hall precisely because it would drain money away from more critical projects

Mark Pruner was one of them.

RTM member Mark Pruner, a vice chairman of the Education Committee, predicted more money would be needed for the project in the future and said, “I’ve yet to hear how spending the money for this auditorium will result in a better educational experience. … Think of all the other facilities that are going to end up being deferred as we end up spending $64 million or $70 million or $75 million on the remediation costs and the auditorium. Other projects in town are going to be deferred.”

UPDATE: Here’s the roll call of RTM members’ votes on MISA. I’ll try to break them down for easy targeting in our upcoming election.


Filed under MISA

That great whooshing sound you hear is the money being sucked from your wallet

Platinum shovels and hardhats await (photo credit, Jason Rearick)

Platinum shovels and hardhats await (photo credit, Jason Rearick)

Construction begins for the Greenwich High Music Palace. 

Interesting note, spotted by NewsJunkie: not a single member of our government dared show his or her face for the start of this fiasco, and why would they? Four years from now, when the final numbers are toted up, no one’s going to want a picture of themselves cheering this on or being in any way involved with it.

On Monday, a row of hard hats perched atop gleaming shovels lay against a trailer near the construction site, props that would ostensibly be used during a groundbreaking ceremony. But no one claimed them for grinning photo-ops. Instead, Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty ventured out at midday as the sole town official to pay a brief site visit.


Filed under MISA

Can’t keep a bad idea down

Llod Hull (propped up by statuette, center) and Mark Pruner

Lloyd Hull (propped up by statuette, center) and Mark Pruner

RTM votes to keep going on the GHS Music Palace

“There’s one thing we can never compromise on and that’s education,” said Lloyd Hull, a member of District 10/Northwest of the RTM. “Economize in other areas, but not education.”

Octogenarian Hull, a back country resident who will likely not be sending voluntary donations to Greenwich from Jupiter Island, didn’t explain what “compromise” was involved: taxpayer representatives wanted to stop the palace completely, Hull wants to hand a blank check over to the very people who steered us into this quagmire in the first place. “A good, sincere-sounding sound bite’s too good to waste,” Hull (might have) said, “who cares about reality?”

Greenwich Time notes: “The project’s cost has soared by 30 percent to $44 million following the discovery of widespread soil contamination at the Hillside Road campus and higher-than-expected project bids.”

I share the sentiments of a colleague of mine:

“It works out to $55,000 a student at the present time,” said Mark Pruner, also a member of District 10. “I have yet to hear how spending the money for this auditorium will result in a better education.”

What are we getting for that $55,000 (and counting) cost per student?

It includes a $3.1 million earmark to make the auditorium’s orchestra pit water-tight because it is below grade, a change that was necessitated by the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls when ground was broken on the project in 2011.

There is also a $3.8 million line item for the cleanup of contaminated soil outside the construction site in the vicinity of the school’s athletic fields, which the Board of Education is treating as a separate project that could ultimately cost between $15 million and $146 million. (so the once $30 million, now $44 million project will actually cost at least $59 million and possibly $186 million. Thank you, Lloyd Hull, for refusing to “compromise”).

Tesei and Selectman Drew Marzullo, both GHS graduates, spoke in support of the project.

“Marzullo said the project will pay dividends.

“It benefits our children and will increase property values,” Marzullo said.

Pruner has it right: there is no evidence that a tuba practice room will benefit “the children”, and to my certain knowledge, not a single prospective Greenwich home buyer has ever asked about the quality of the acoustics in the present auditorium. Test scores, graduation rates, yes, and most important, taxes. This project will raise those taxes, a matter of no concern to Lloyd Hull, and will decrease property values, a result exactly the opposite of what Third Selectman Marzullo expects. Between those two and 118 of our fellow citizens on the RTM, we’re in the best of hands.


Filed under MISA

What’s next for Bob Horton, drain the Byram pool?

Say goodnight

Say goodnight

My absolute favorite liberal and friend Bob Horton says it’s time to throw in the towel on the GHS Music Palace. Bob cites just a few of the many good reasons to delay tuba practice but any good reason will do: if the palace proponents have lost Horton, the fat lady has sung.


Filed under MISA

So cancel the whole thing

Greenwich High Music Palace (as proposed)

Greenwich High Music Palace (as proposed)

Supporters of the GHS music palace say budget cuts will render the project moot.

Since a major reason for building the new auditorium is to improve sound quality, Cirigliano said getting rid of the orchestra pit would defeat some of the purpose.

“Without that, we’re not getting much improvement for the renovation,” Cirigliano said.

GHS Band Director John Yoon is concerned that renovating the current auditorium — which has poor acoustics, with sound not traveling properly and students struggling to sing over the HVAC system — would not produce sufficient practice areas. He said that since the sloped floor would have to be leveled off, the ceiling would not be high enough.

“If they’re going to use the existing auditorium, the ceiling has to be 19 to 20 feet, tops,” Yoon said. “We produce a huge amount of sound. That has to be displaced. By using the existing auditorium space, we’re throwing that out the window. We’re going to spend the money and we’re not going to do it right. Again.”

Even the editors of Greenwich Time, always ready to support spending money that belongs to Greenwich taxpayers, has suggested that we discard this boondoggle. In an editorial on March 15th the paper said:

“If the current auditorium is an indicator, town children, and town residents, will use this building for 40 years or more. Do it right, or don’t do it.”

Who could disagree?


Filed under MISA

No $50 million music hall, yet these kids still want to go there.

Stuyvesant High puts on a show

Stuyvesant High puts on a show

Stuyvesant High, where admission is determined solely on academic ability, announces its incoming freshman class:

Kay Hymovitz points to the demographic breakdownof the entering freshman class at Stuyvesant High School. Stuyvesant is one of New York’s specialized public high schools where entrance is determined solely by Specialized High School Admission Test scores:

Stuyvesant offered admission to 9 black students; 24 Latino students; 177 white students; and 620 students who identify as Asian.

It’s possible that the “white” numbers are down somewhat because in NYC’s increasingly “rich man, poor man” society with no middle class, the wealthy whites may ship their progeny off to private school. Still, the discrepancy between races is interesting and someone might want to look into why one culture is doing so much better at inculcating a determination to excel in its youngsters (hint: it probably doesn’t emphasize expensive sneakers, video games and pills from mom’s medicine cabinet).

And while it’s the racial composition that’s drawing the media’s attention: nothing scarier than to see the faces of those who are eating the lunch of the children of us white folks, of more local interest is that, although Stuyvesant has a curriculum rich in humanities (and check the link to see what a real school looks like), does anyone really think the draw is its auditorium? Instead of another MISA committee, maybe our BOE should form a committee to travel to lower Manhattan and learn how quality education is done. And then bring some ideas back home.


Filed under Uncategorized

If it’s not worth doing, it’s not worth doing well

With the Greenwich High Music Hall now estimated to cost $42 million and still climbing, people are rethinking the project. There’s talk of eliminating the orchestra pit, reusing an older portion, and on and on. The end result, it seems to me, will be a dog’s breakfast of old, new and make-do, all so the proponents can claim they built something. That’s a dumb reason to spend what’s probably going to be fifty-million bucks, if we’ll end up with the same inadequacies we’ve been muddling along with these past decades. I say, punt.


Filed under MISA

And we’re off!

Greenwich High School Music Hall

Greenwich High School Music Hall

The first bids for some of the construction costs of the Greenwich High Music Palace are in, and they’re 27% higher than originally predicted $29.3 million instead of $23. That’s not counting the costs of soil cleanup ($13-23 million), and the bids are for just 67% of the total cost (again excluding soil remediation).

The butcher’s bill is still growing, and we’ve hardly started.


Filed under MISA

The fix is in?

Land use specialist Mike Finkbeiner (the guy to call for all your questions regarding waterfront or dry land building) has a question for our town leaders concerning their double – secret – probation plan for soil remediation at the high school:

Surveyor’s only question was “where’s the plan?”  Will we need to go
to Hartford to learn there is /was no “phased remediation plan? “

If that’s the case, and AECOM never said there was such a plan in the
first place, didn’t the RTM have the right to know that before they
voted the funding in May?

Just asking.

Finkbeiner is complaining that the town is claiming that there is a “staged remediation plan” that’s in place for cleaning up the contaminated soil under the proposed Music Palace, but they won’t release it, and apparently Hartford doesn’t know anything about it. Why?

I can think of two possible reasons:

1. There is no such plan and our leaders therefore have no idea how much remediation will cost, notwithstanding their promise to the contrary made to the RTM; or

2. There is a plan, the town knows what the clean-up will cost and fears that if that cost is disclosed it will be the final stake through the heart of the Palace.

Neither one is a good way to run a railroad.

(But a third explanation might be: chief complainant in this matter is the perennial High School gadfly Bill Efros, who sues the town over everything and anything concerning the school, from stadium lighting to the color of graduation gowns. Efros lives way up on Old Church Road, 200′ higher than the school property and thus unlikely to be harmed by water (which runs down, not uphill).  That doesn’t mean the town shouldn’t respond to his questions or the questions of the consultant he’s hired, but it’s understandable.)

Publication: Greenwich Time; Date: Jun 10, 2012; Section: News; Page: A1
Questions remain on high school auditorium project, surveyor says
By Lisa Chamoff
Finkbeiner, who runs Land Water Solutions, a Greenwich firm that resolves land use issues, recently put in a Freedom of Information Act request to AECOM, the environmental consultant the town hired after contaminated soil
was discovered at the school last summer. At issue is how the building committee for the project, which is known as MISA and is expected to cost at least $37 million, is aiming to proceed with construction before polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are removed from the rest of the property.

In order to prevent contaminated groundwater from infiltrating the MISA site during construction of the orchestra pit, which will be built 12 feet below the water table, the committee has proposed installing a cofferdam, a watertight
structure to enclose the area that sits under water.

Finkbeiner said the high school property sits on an old peat bog, and he doesn’t believe it would be possible to
install a watertight structure. “If you’re driving it into a peat bog, where do you get the seal?” Finkbeiner said during a recent interview.

In his FOI request, Finkbeiner asked why the site plan filed with the federal Environmental Protection Agency,which will decide whether the MISA project can be “bifurcated,” or proceed before toxins are removed from the rest ofthe high school property, doesn’t include the cofferdam. He also requested a site plan that demonstrates the feasibility of constructing MISA prior to remediation.
Finkbeiner said he filed a complaint with the state Freedom of Information Commission after the town didn’t respond to his request.


Filed under MISA

Spend spend spend

Free love! (And free lunch and auditoriums and pools and ….)

Greenwich’s long term debt will be $190 million next year and certain Democrats think this is just fine and in fact we should spend more.

In an attempt to placate skittish ratings agencies about the town’s creditworthiness, the Board of Estimate and Taxation established a $210 million cap last year on borrowing, a practice that has long been taboo in pay-as-you-go Greenwich.

The policy also limits the amount of money the town can apply toward debt service and interest payments to 70 percent of the capital tax levy, the amount of tax revenue dedicated to infrastructure projects and equipment upgrades.

The debt ceiling measure is subject to review every two years, which can’t come soon enough for some office holders, including Selectman Drew Marzullo, a Democrat in his second term.

“It is an artificial number that does not take into account the long-term needs of the town,” Marzullo said. “No one has demonstrated whatsoever the positive or negative impact this might have.”

“Either we’re going to have to increase the debt ceiling, talk about longer-term borrowing or don’t do projects that need to be done,” Marzullo said. “The other option no one wants to talk about is to increase the mill rate. I can hear the guillotine being sharpened now.”

And Marzullo isn’t alone in this philosophy of spending what we don’t have. here’s this from a FWIW reader:

C’mon Chris. I know you consider yourself a contrarian but resorting to hysterics about what the town can and can not afford is beneath even you. Yes, things are bad in Europe and the macroeconomic picture in this country is not good either. Though, in the grand scheme of things MISA is not going to bankrupt us and is a decent attempt at giving this Town’s infrastructure a nice shot in the arm. When is the last time this Town really spent some money on a luxury item….schools, fire stations, police stations do not count. You are a broker…you can’t keep selling this Town as NYC North with exorbitant real estate prices without sprinkling in a few high end amenities once in awhile. This ain’t Mayberry anymore….let’s stop pretending.

Dig in, grip your wallet and fight, fight fight. People like that Marzullo and the reader think that Greenwich will be more attractive if  it has a new municipal pool, an expensive high school auditorium and God knows what other “luxuries”, these people can dream up. A low property tax and a well-maintained infrastructure is our draw, not new pools.


Filed under MISA

Fiscal responsibility

No, not on the part of the town, which voted overwhelmingly last night to fund the Performing Arts Palace we don’t need and can’t afford, but the residents of Cobb “Island”, that small development of expensive homes on the water and just off Exit 4, who want a noise barrier installed at their own expense! 

These people all bought their homes with full knowledge that the highway was nearby, so had they been looking to use other people’s money to mitigate the traffic roar (like everyone else up and down the Thruway) I wouldn’t be sympathetic, but no, all they want is P&Z approval for the residents to do it themselves (the State will erect the barrier and bill Cobb Island). That’s putting your money where your ears are and I’m impressed. I can’t imagine why the P&Z wouldn’t approve this, quickly, but you never know with the P&Z.


Filed under MISA