Letter: A Vote For M-D Renovation is for Safety and Fiscal Sense

Dear Editor,

I encourage Wilton residents to vote in support of the Miller Driscoll Building Project. As both mother to a preschool child and granddaughter to an elderly, longstanding Wilton resident, I deeply understand the need to improve the school’s environs for our entire community. It also makes the most fiscal sense to complete the project as a whole, rather than face inevitable state mandates as old systems fail and do not meet code. If this vote does not go through, our town will be forced to replace systems individually, at even greater cost.

In these times, we must consider safety. Rearranging our elementary school layout will help prevent tragedy as occurred when 26 irreplaceable children and staff were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Traffic around Miller Driscoll is dangerous. Car accidents, particularly for children and the elderly, can be life-threatening. Playgrounds and classrooms need to be relocated. Inadequacies due to road setup and parking create hazardous traffic on both Wolfpit and Belden Hill Rds. This is especially evident during morning rush hour, as these two roads are heavily used by the commuting population.

The Miller Driscoll building doesn’t contain enough space for preschool children, where gym class is held in hallways due to lack of space. The preschool program continues to see an increase in students. Last year, preschool began with 49 students and grew to include 79 by school year end. This year, the preschool started with 56 students. How will we find enough space for a projected final number of 86 students by year end? What about in the years to come?

Major systems such as heating and cooling networks, roof and floor integrity, and electrical and lighting infrastructure, do not meet state codes or are in dire need of replacing. Even if this project is not voted through, these issues will be mandated for replacement anyway. We currently have the lowest possible projected cost basis. If this project is piecemealed, each aspect will cost more individually. Taxes will increase even more.

Our community is known for being supportive of one another, for protecting and advocating for both children and the elderly. We need to continue to do so. For the safety of all children and residents, and for keeping our taxes as low as possible going forward, I urge residents to join me. Vote in favor of the Miller Driscoll Building Project.

Thank you,

Cali Burton


  1. Something is seriously wrong with this proposal. Why is it that the University of Connecticut can build a 103,000 square foot state of the art science building for the Danbury campus for 49 million dollars…less than the MD renovation (see: http://www.southernct.edu/news/sciencebuildinggroundbreaking.html )
    Why is it that the Hoffman report prepared in 2012 states the exterior envelope (excluding the roof) at MD can be renovated for $500,000.00 yes, that is correct: 1% of the proposed 50 million renovation. Add new roofing, insulated glass and new HVAC and you would be hard pressed to reach 10 million dollars.
    All of the repairs should have been part of an ongoing annual maintenance program at MD and the other public buildings. We can plant street lights but why cant we fix a roof already covered by THREE separate roofer’s warranties?!
    Why risk exposing children to toxic materials during this wasteful renovation?
    Darien’s Hindley School is much older than MD yet it still functions as well as any other school in the area…why? simply because it was properly maintained throughout the years. Why wasn’t MD?
    Those proposing this wasteful spending are redoubling their efforts to discredit those opposed to the spending. Why? Let’s simply look at the facts to develop an understanding of this waste.
    Why cant we use Comstock, Gilbert Bennett or even the old school currently leased to Montessori for the ‘required’ pre-school that represents 15 million of this project? We already have space for them so let’s use it.
    Have all Building Committee members and others that have worked on this proposal signed the required ethics statement? If so, why are they not on file in Town Hall? Are those participating in this proposal barred from receiving any portion of the contract or sub-contracts? If not, where is the document stating so?
    Concerned? Join the SENSIBLE WILTON group
    Ed Papp
    28 Walnut Place

  2. Heather,
    I wrote a response to his comments on the other GMW page this AM but it does not appear?! Was it erased?
    He did not present a convincing case in opposition to the points I made.
    He has not answered the questions I posed.

  3. Heather,
    My response to Bruce’s note now appears on the other GMW page and I have pasted it here for ease of reference. Thanks

    All the literature points to significantly lower construction costs than proposed here in Wilton. A new elementary school built in Alexandria Va for 46 million at 97,000 sq ft. See http://apsva.us/newes1 includes hard and soft costs.
    Please don’t say ” well, we are Wilton, so we must spend more than anyone else.!,
    The Town of Wilton Requires all participants to sign an ethics statement. This is not my requirement, it is a town requirement. Where are they? Are all participants barred from participating in the construction in any way? Don’t act indignant, just answer a tax payers question.

    It is NOT irresponsible to be concerned with TOXIC materials. You can claim safeguards but you cannot claim with absolute certainty that it is impossible. As you state, remediation adds costs not incurred when building new. Why take the chance?

    A BRAND NEW four story building could be built on one of the ball fields at MD using off the shelf plans from the national school design organization avoiding toxic material issues, excessive soft costs. Police headquarters could relocate from their cramped quarters to the old MD site offering increased security as well.

    Yes, it is easy to toss numbers. The tossing starts with a 3 million roofing, HVAC project at MD that suddenly devolved to a 50 million adventure in 3 short years. Why ? You stated doing the project “piecemeal” would cost 42 million…where did that number come from? Are there individual bids for the various steps adding to 42 million or is it a guess? I know Hoffman estimated 500, 000 for the envelope, the roof and HVAC come in at 3.5 million ( less if the roof warranties were called). A school in nearby Fairfield replaced all of its exterior doors and windows for $502,000 see

    I do not understand why you immediately disparage documented costs from known, completed projects while holding firm to the credibility of numbers without bids. Are your numbers based on bids? Wilton has the reputation of spending way too much. Let’s end it now.

    Please answer:
    Where are the signed ethics statements?
    Are current participants barred from participating in the build?
    Why not use Comstock, Gilbert Bennett or Montessori for pre K?
    Why not build new on the MD site and repurpose the existing school?
    Why not realize taxpayers are justifiably concerned with the failure of the town to maintain MD?
    Why not understand taxpayers are concerned with a roofing-HVAC project turning into a 50 million drain?
    Why not consider alternatives to the plan you proposed?
    There was scant info given to taxpayers in the past three years. To have this plan suddenly foisted on the community without presenting alternatives is disturbing.

    There was no rush to fix the roof that lead to IAQ issues, so why the rush to sell this BEFORE all options are revealed.
    You have not properly informed the public and they might make the mistake of voting for this without understanding it’s serious questions and issues….or WORSE, not voting AGAINST this!!

  4. Here is a link to another school building project. It is in Mass. Nearby and not that long ago. A brand new High School costing $330 per square foot.


    Mass has a program where districts are encouraged to use stock, proven designs. They are also encouraged to tweak the stock design to avoid the cookie cutter look. Cuts down on construction costs while enabling a custom look. Smart thinking that would have, will save Wilton tons of money if adopted. Let’s educators focus on teaching, not bricks.

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