LETTER: D9 Withdraws SOMR in Lieu of Expanding Building Committee’s Town-Wide

Submitted by members of the RTM District 9 (See list*)

The views in this letter are those of the individual members of RTM District 9, they are not meant to reflect the views of the full RTM.

In advance of the January meeting of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the members of RTM District 9 proposed a sense of the meeting resolution (SOMR) that urged the Board of Education to create a building committee for the Greenwich High School Cardinal Stadium construction project. In addressing this SOMR over the past few weeks, much discussion has taken place at RTM committee and district meetings about how a building committee would work, what oversight it would have, and its
potential impact on the completion of the stadium project. While there was broad support for the concepts of budget oversight and visibility for major projects, we were surprised that the discussion over the SOMR shifted from fiscal responsibility to questioning whether those in favor of the SOMR actually wanted the stadium project to move forward. To be clear, negatively impacting the stadium project was not the intention of the SOMR. District 9 is fully supportive of the project and appreciative of those who have worked so hard to advance it to its current state.

In actual fact, while the Cardinal Stadium project is a complex, multi-phase, $13.3 million dollar project, it is only one of many projects that make up the nearly $300 million in capital expenditures on the horizon for the town. District 9’s focus was, and remains, how the town should responsibly manage this spending and ensure that it implements good processes for infrastructure investments. Our belief is that the building committee model is a powerful mechanism – with specific guidelines regarding composition of committee members, public meetings, and fiscal oversight – that can ensure transparency in process for town projects from start to completion. Building committees are comprised of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise – all tailored to the needs of each individual project – who provide dedicated resources to oversee town projects. Building committees are not about creating unwieldy process, control of projects, partisan politics or support for our schools, nor are
they are not about budget cuts; they are about good budget management.
The fact that fiscal management has been “lost in the weeds” in the broader discussion about the SOMR has led District 9 to withdraw it from consideration at the January RTM meeting. Our intention is to
continue discussing this issue and bring before the RTM a more substantive measure to address the broader topic of how the town should manage capital projects as impactful as the Cardinal Stadium. We fully intend to bring the topic of building committees back to the RTM to ensure a continued discussion on the concepts of oversight and transparency for town investments.

Finally, we have been encouraged by comments of support from the First Selectman, the BET, and BOE – including affirmative statements of BOE members concerning the potential formation of a building committee for phase 2 of the Cardinal Stadium project. As we look ahead, we hope more people in the community take part in this important discussion. We are blessed to live in a town with so many resources and so many people willing to step forward to lead. We should all be active participants as we
continue to build and invest in the future of our great town…but it should be our collective goal to do it responsibly, efficiently, and with full transparency.

Signed by the following 21 members of RTM D9:
Phyllis Alexander
Debbi Krautheim
Seth Bacon
Abbe Large
Mike Brescia
Brian Malin
Claudia Charthaus
Lauren O’Keefe
Barbara Darula
Brian Raney
Patti DeFelice
Ferdinando Schiro
Betsey Frumin
Jonathan Shankman
Donna Gaudioso-Zeale
Joanne Steinhar
Anne Jones
Sharon Shisler
Melissa Kordic
Jane Weisbecker
Carol Zarrilli