To the Editor,
I write in response to one specific point in Attorney Reiff’s thoughtful letter written as a parent of three children, one at Miller-Driscoll. He states, “My main concern, as a parent and landowner in Wilton, is not that we are spending money on the schools, but rather, that the renovation project does not go far enough. For the amount being spent, or perhaps a little more, we could build a new elementary school—and I happen to believe that that is exactly what we need to do.”
My own concerns about such a new-build approach are four-fold:
- The best estimates of the cost of a new build that I have seen are that it will run around $75 million, $25 million more than the rebuild.
- The state is reported not to encourage new builds, and it is therefore not clear whether the $6 million committed by the state to the rebuild (making the net cost of the rebuild to our town $44 million) would be available for a new build.
- Designing a new building means either a complete teardown of the old building (and, if so, what do we do with all of our M-D children in the time between tear-down of the old building and completion of the new structure several years later?) or finding a parcel on which to place the new structure while the old building continues in operation with attendant land acquisition costs, even if such a parcel could be found in town (and I’ve been told that there is none), and with now substantially prolonged use of the old building in its present state through the lengthy time period required for new design and construction work for a new building (perhaps four years) when there is universal agreement that the existing building in its present form is grossly deficient for our children.
- The delay through the time of redesign and approvals of a new build could lose us a very favorable bond market and thereby further increase the costs of the project by increasing the bond interest payment costs.
By contrast, this rebuild is so well conceived and planned (in, among many other things, its heavy green elements and fuel cost savings) that it will actually give us the welcome benefits of a new build without the daunting drawbacks listed above.
It is for these reasons that, while I certainly reviewed the facts on the new construction route myself back before the September vote (as I described in my Wilton Bulletin column of Sept. 18, “A ‘yes’ vote in the way to go”), I’ve never considered it a viable option.
I’m glad Attorney Reiff has come forward with his views on this subject, and I expect he can contribute to a very constructive dialogue here.