.

Glass: "Without good numbers on a renovation of the present Morgan, we cannot make a reasonable choice."

"We are being asked to vote on faith, because due diligence has not been exercised."

 

This letter is written by George (Skip) Glass:

To: Clinton Taxpayers

From: George (Skip) Glass

Subject: Proposal for a new Morgan School

Reference: Informational Meeting for the public hosted by the Morgan Building Committee, Sunday, March 25, 2012, 2:00 PM.

At the outset, the subject meeting was a very informative and, basically, well done presentation.  It was in three main parts: First, the design of a new Morgan School, at a new location on Route 81 at the present Richard’s site, was described in some detail by David Thompson of David Thompson Architects.  This was followed by Chairman of the MBC (Morgan Building Committee), Gerry Vece’s review of the overall project.  The final part was an estimate of the taxpayer’s increase and an “off-set” to the cost of the project explained by Clinton’s First Selectman, Willie Fritz.

My original intention was to send out a report, early last week, on what I learned that afternoon, but then I realized that, while the presentation seemed complete, the audience began to uncover several missing pieces and misleading statements.  Suspecting there may be more issues, I felt a bit of research was needed.

Several startling facts were uncovered at the meeting, a few by the presenters, most by questions from the attendees.  These included, but are not limited to:

  • Private home in the site plan – The Architect’s plan showed a private home in the middle of the layout, between the new school and the main parking lot.  If the house stays, the school will have to be relocated farther in from Route 81, and away from the house.  Later information indicates the occupant is a fairly new owner and is not interested in selling.
  • No maintenance on site – The Building Committee left out maintenance, because, “It would add $1,300,000 to the project.  We may build something later, or find available space somewhere in town.”  This implies that maintenance will have no home on the site, and they would have to be called in for issues needing attention at the school.  More importantly, it looks like there will be no control center for HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Aid Conditioning), lighting systems, etc…and this new school is touted as having up-to-date technology?  Today, in fact 15 or more years ago, with the proper telemetry, a maintenance superintendent can walk into his office, and in 10 minutes check out all critical building systems, and respond to any issues before someone calls complaining it is too hot or too cold.  Such a system would also contribute to energy savings.
  • Compared to what? – There was a question from the floor, what would it take to put the present Morgan School into good repair, update it to existing codes, and make it acceptable for accreditation?  THE ANSWER WAS, “WE DID NOT LOOK AT THAT.”!!!
  • Off-set and taxes! – Our First Selectman said, if we use a 9% increase in taxes your increase on a $4,000 tax bill will “only” be $360 a year or $30 per month.  However, for retirees and people out of work that is a big number.  Some of us may see an additional $1,000 per year, and more.  Also, the CTA (Clinton Taxpayers Association) sees a mil rate increase in the area of 25% in 4 to 5 years.  The First Selectman’s second message had to do with the income the town would realize from the sale, and development of the property where the present Morgan School is located.  The land alone has been appraised at $5,000,000, the taxes on that alone will help to off-set the cost of the new Morgan, and if it is developed, the tax returns will be greater.  A comment from the floor pointed out that we see closed businesses everywhere, even in our town.  And, with ever increasing taxes, it seems to be overly optimistic to expect buyers will be interested in this property.

Other Issues not addressed:

  • Old Morgan Maintenance – The figure of $1,000,000 per year was mentioned, but this figure has never been confirmed.  From the tour of the Morgan School, before the meeting, we saw lots of evidence of very poor maintenance, everything from leaking equipment to foam fire protection falling off support beams…$300,000 per year might be an exaggeration.  Makes one wonder what the other Town Schools look like…?
  • Bonding – This cost has been left out of the numbers we have seen.
  • Bridge to athletic field – In the new Morgan Plan there is an existing “bridge” to the athletic fields across a brook, but this needs repair or rebuilding to support any kind of traffic.  There is no money in the proposal for this.
  • Traffic control – Traffic lights, school warning signs, widening the road to accommodate school busses turning in and out, will be needed, but are not in the plan.
  • Water and wastewater – The whole Town is in trouble here…but we heard nothing about it in the new Morgan plan.
  • The present Morgan has the library directly across the street – A real positive for the present location.
  • Leads one to wonder, what else has been left out……?

Bottom Line – We are being asked to vote on faith, because due diligence has not been exercised.  Without good numbers on a renovation of the present Morgan, we cannot make a reasonable choice between that option and a new Morgan School.  And, as you decide, keep in mind the fact we will soon be asked to cover the cost of a compliant, Town Wastewater System as mandated by the State of Connecticut..…more tax implications!

Your vote is important!  If you will be away on April 11, it is not too late to get an absentee ballot…

- George Glass

Leah Saunders April 04, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Art...we don't have to use Gilbane...everything goes out to bid and everything is built. I'm interested to hear the rest of this story...thanks for doing this.
Leah Saunders April 04, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Oops should say...built IN
Bruce Farmer April 05, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Hi Art, Thank you for the information. I don't have any facts and no agenda here on Gilbane. Don't be so quick to judge people. Folks have talking about this for quite a while and I thought I would ask the Patch readers if anybody actually new the facts. Regards, Bruce Farmer
Bruce Farmer April 05, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Clinton is not a business, it - in my opinion, is a group of folks who live, work and play here and we care about our town and each other. Yes - we have disagreements but this is healthy too. Going forward, I think we need to think about running it more like a business from a financial standpoint. I would like to see more advanced planning and coordination between the BOS;BOF and the BOE. I also believe more of us in town should offer to assist them in their efforts if we have specific backgrounds that would help - assuming that they want our assistance and that it does not interfere with the process. Over 250 people already volunteer on various commissions, etc. but I think they need more help and more folks in town need to step up !
OldTimeClinton April 06, 2012 at 07:21 PM
I think it's really funny how people denigrate 'summer people'. Why don't we call them what they really are- 'full time taxes, part time users' ? God bless them and their resources.
OldTimeClinton April 06, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Leah- I believe you have officially gone off the deep end. Out of control name calling and spittle splashing only makes you look pathetic and weak.
OldTimeClinton April 06, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Art- the manitenance building is a very real additional cost. Just because the $1,300,000 cost was removed from the budget does not mean that the cost of putting it somewhere else doesn't exist. Let me rephrase: if you take the furniture out of the house, then sell the house, you still have to find a place for the furniture and it is going to cost $$$$$$$$.
Art Kuever April 06, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I have called the SDA and the head of the organization is off until Monday. As soon as I get her I will post here. I think this is great, if this passes, we need to investigate any one who is bidding on all aspects of this building. I do not want to go the way being built incorrectly or cost us more than what is approved.
OldTimeClinton April 06, 2012 at 07:39 PM
you heard it here folks- a "study was done and it yielded no concerns" Beautiful, I feel so much better now. So let's commit $65,000,000 and THEN do more testing to see what our children will be playing on. And these are the same parents that had heart attacks and wouldn't let school fields be used for waste water treatment even though the exact same thing goes on all day, every day in their own back yards with their own septic systems that have far less supervisory oversight. Unbelievable.
Art Kuever April 06, 2012 at 07:44 PM
No one ever said that it will not cost money, just not 1.3 million. The committee thought it better to seek other options on this expenditure, i.e. use the town work force to build on which would be much cheaper or see if they had another building that could be retrofitted to handle what they need. If the 1.3 million was left in, I am sure people would say we should do just what the committee did. Again, a no win situation.
OldTimeClinton April 06, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Amen Jim- for once I agree with you totally. Is anyone here aware that apparently language (including the old f-bomb) is pretty routine at Morgan? along with the lack of appropriatly respectful attire and behaviour? When my son was there he was told by a teacher in a classroom, in front of every student in the class, that he should feel free to nap anytime the topic of college arose because no college anywhere would be looking for him. Nice, huh? That teacher is still there. Like I said, a new school ain't gonna fix what's broken up there.
OldTimeClinton April 06, 2012 at 07:49 PM
you heard it here folks- a "study was done and it yielded no concerns" Beautiful, I feel so much better now. So let's commit $65,000,000 and THEN do more testing to see what our children will be playing on. And these are the same parents that had heart attacks and wouldn't let school fields be used for waste water treatment even though the exact same thing goes on all day, every day in their own back yards with their own septic systems that have far less supervisory oversight. Unbelievable. and for this we are paying the Richards family $3,700,000. I feel safe and secire all over again.
Art Kuever April 06, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I was simply stating a fact in response to a comment made by Joan who was wondering about the current use of the proposed property. I believe my statement was just showing that the property was used the same way and should yield the same result, the ability to build a new building. As I have said before, everyone want everything in detail but yell when money is spent trying to provide as much as can be provided for as cheap as possible because the proposal has not been passed yet. You can't have it both ways. I have no issue with putting the playing fields over any waste treatment system. These are probably the same parents that do not know that the football field at Joel is on top of a landfill from years ago. Seems, I agree with you on this, at least.
Leah Saunders April 06, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Old timer...are you even serious right now? Who are you with your fake name? Afraid to use your real name? You talk about insults and name calling? What is it that you are doing right now?? You've completely derailed! I have 15 updates from this letter ....all of YOU ranting! You sure don't represent my town...you should think about changing your fake name to something else...I got a few suggestions if you need help!
Bruce Farmer April 06, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Thanks Art !!
OldTimeClinton April 06, 2012 at 10:45 PM
if nothing else you are predictable....you sure can dish it out but when it comes to 'taking it' it's boo-boo city. I believe thats the definition of a bully. .
Jim Braun April 07, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Yeah, you agreeing with me somehow fails to instill a sense of pride in what I wrote. Do us all a favor and go back on your meds. Your display here today was one for the hall of shame. Signed, Non-anonymous
Robin April 07, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Thank you for posting this information. I am not sold on a new Morgan and, indeed, plan to vote no. Why do we not have such a nicely detailed plan for renovation like we do for the NEW school? Follow the money.....
Clinton Resident April 07, 2012 at 10:41 PM
The residents need to think about the long-term benefits this opportunity offers, one that a renovation option would not. As stated in the MSBC presentation, if the school property is sold and developed, it could potentially generate $5M to help offset the cost of building a new school and generate another $10M in tax revenues over 20 years ($150K x 20). Building an energy efficient building will also save the town $3M in energy costs over 20 years ($150K x 20). The potential job opportunities that this property could offer should also be taken into consideration when deciding how to vote. This property can be the gift that keeps on giving to Clinton. When I heard the woman (at one of the public presentations and at the town meeting) speak about the horrible conditions the teachers and students have to endure while her school is undergoing renovations, I knew immediately I would never want to subject our teachers and students to that. Does anyone truly know what lies behind those 60 year old walls and ceilings? Those unknowns could be even more costly. I am choosing not to waste any more of my money on that building. I see this entire project as a once in a lifetime opportunity to generate the tax revenue our town desperately needs, create jobs for local residents, make Clinton even more attractive to families that are looking for a place to call home, and to give our children a state of the art educational facility that they deserve and need to succeed.
Art Kuever April 09, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Bruce, I just received a call from the SDA Communication President and she said that the lawsuit was settled and Gilbane was let go for convenience and is still able to conduct business with any entity within the state of NJ. I will add, when I asked her if they have entered in to any contracts with Gilbane since 2008 and the lawsuit, she said, "to the best of my knowledge, no". If the proposal passes, I think we will need to be very diligent on who gets the contracts and note that the cheapest may cost more in the long run.
Ron Klimas April 09, 2012 at 03:15 PM
The voters of Clinton shouldn't be led to believe there are only two solutions. The building committee apparently abandoned the idea of replacing the roof because it wouldn't qualify for state funding unless the building was updated to today's standards. And by rennovating we'd be giving up an opportunity to sell the present location's real estate to a commercial buyer. From my perspective: My employer recently replaced the roof on a large commercial building in Groton. Offices and inventory for several hundred employees. The building had the same issues as the Morgan school, old design, flat roof leaked everywhere. For under $1.5 million, we got a new energy efficient roof guaranteed for 20 years. A new roof won't address all the issues but it's a good start. Next let me relate what happened in Bristol. The former Mayor and his committee decided to purchase the downtown Mall from it's owner for an "opportunity" to redevelop it's downtown area. That was several years ago. So far it cost the taxpayers several million dollars to buy the property and demolish the buildings. To date nothing's been done with the property because no developer is interested in buying it! Sorry, I can't afford a $65 Million wish and a promise.
Bruce Farmer April 09, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Art, Thanks for the info on Gilbane. Bruce
Kim Buckley April 09, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Mr. Farmer I couldn't agree more! I think we need to keep this debate factual, honest, and most of all respectful so that people feel comfortable expressing contrary opinions. I hope people listen to your advice and offer their expertise to help our community to thrive. -Kim
Kirk Carr April 09, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Ron: The state WILL state will only reimburse 46% for eligible square footage for a new roof and various updates. Information to the contrary is simply a myth. Morgan code violations have been addressed in previos projects that the state reimbursed. And the state reimburses for new roofs only all of the time. So much misinformation is out there. Look at these two YouTube videos to see how these myths get repeated even though they are false. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07NggB2azj4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcpkix3YlpQ Gilbane wants to sell Clinton a new Morgan. Some people want to buy it regardless of the costs or the facts. You are exactly right, Clinton can not afford a $65 million blue sky scheme that will cost taxpayers millions. $avs Morgan $ave Millions.
Tom Riccio April 09, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Mr. Braun, hats off to you. I am the biggest Steve Miller Band fan on the East Coast much to the dismay of Mrs. Riccio. Tom
Kirk Carr April 09, 2012 at 09:06 PM
I believe Wade Thomas said he had only inspected the front of the property. The back section, which according to some at the Morgan meeting, said that it had been a dump, has not been inspected according to Thomas. I'll try and get a video of that exchange up.
Kirk Carr April 10, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Kim: Factual would be refreshing. Are you ready to acknowledge facts over fiction? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07NggB2azj4&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Kim Buckley April 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Mr. Carr- I already directly answered your question and clarified that my concerns regarding Morgan's accreditation are about Morgan maintaining accreditation in the future not its current accreditation and provided a clear explanation as to my reasoning. At the CTA's presentation, I also handed Mr. Fried a copy of the data I used to support the numbers I mentioned at the presentation and in the video clip you posted here without any need for an FOIA request from the CTA. Frankly, your habit of repeatedly asking the same questions and ignoring the answers and the facts provided to support those answers does more to undermine your credibility than it does mine.
Kirk Carr April 10, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Ron: The state WILL reimburse 46% for eligible square footage for a new roof and various updates. Information to the contrary is simply a myth. Morgan code violations have been addressed in previos projects that the state reimbursed. And the state reimburses for new roofs only all of the time. So much misinformation is out there. Look at these two YouTube videos to see how these myths get repeated even though they are false. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07NggB2azj4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcpkix3YlpQ Gilbane wants to sell Clinton a new Morgan. Some people want to buy it regardless of the costs or the facts. You are exactly right, Clinton can not afford a $65 million blue sky scheme that will cost taxpayers millions. $avs Morgan $ave Millions.
Kirk Carr April 11, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Point well take. Listen to Wade Thomas on the topic. Listen to the end when he says he has only inspected the front half of the property and audience members report the part not inspected was once a dump. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uha-lGVbNoI Is this site safe for children playing sports on fields on fill that may once have been a dump and that has not been examined?

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