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