Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Chairman's View: "New Years Resolutions" my New Canaan Advertiser column for January 11, 2018

I’ll begin with 2018 New Year’s Resolutions from Town Council members:

Penny Young wrote, “Keep an open-mind and listen, listen, listen... the path forward will become evident.I will be mindful of our responsibility to preserve, maintain, and address the physical and operational needs of one of our most valuable resources— our buildings.”

Elizabeth Gores-Donovan said, “Top priority to take advantage of the "building momentum" of the recently published Building Use Report. Also plan to push for development of appropriate public/private partnership process and guidelines.”

Tom Butterworth weighed in saying “We're giving fast-track consideration to Dr. Bryan Luizzi’s breakthrough idea to put the long-vacant "Outback" building to a money-saving use as an alternative school for students with special needs.”

Cristina Ross added “Create defined procedures that address the financial appropriations process for all construction projects pertaining to our infrastructure, in order to better manage the contract administration process.”

The immediate priorities for the Town Council center on decisions around three buildings: the Outback, Waveny House and the Police Station, each of which is projected to have a large line item in this year’s capital budget. This week we consider the Outback where Superintendent of Schools Bryan Luizzi has made a proposal to create an Alternative High School there.  He will need a quick decision from the TC in order to begin planning and budgeting a Fall program. It may cost the Town between $500,000 and $1 million to rehabilitate the building whether or not we use it as a school and Dr. Luizzi’s plan shows potential cost savings over $100,000 per year to us versus the current practice of outsourcing this program out-of-town. Questions remain: How viable is this plan? Are there any alternative uses for that building that respect the intent of the original donors? Can we make more than $100,000 per year renting the building to a private party? The clock is ticking.

Steve Karl wrote, I fully support the idea and the concept and welcome the BOE’s input on this initiative. The only prerequisite I have is that we are shown the exact financial path forward that allows the town to have no ongoing expense associated with this project. And no debt associated with putting money into it to get it started to see “if it will work” . . . We can’t afford to simply fill a building because it’s empty.”

What are your resolutions for your Town Council? Let us know.
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