Letter to the Editor: MISA and 10 Hillside Deed’s 35′ Height Restriction

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 1.17.10 PM

To The Editor:​


When MISA was first proposed as a $15 million high school auditorium renovation in 2007, the Board of Education moved it to the top of its educational priorities list, citing the abysmal acoustic characteristics of the existing auditorium.  Judging from recent photographs, the new auditorium will sound worse.

Perkins+Will, the architect hired by BOE, immediately determined the existing auditorium was not high enough: “the interior height of the new auditorium, from the top of the stage to the bottom of the ceiling, cannot be less than 67 feet, or the acoustics will be awful.”

​To comply with​ a 10 Hillside Road​ deed restriction prohibiting any structure more than 35 feet above grade level, P+W proposed a new building that would not require a variance.  By adding “Music Instruction Space” to the project, it suggested BOE could mask the fact the new building would cost twice as much as the originally proposed auditorium renovation.

P+W’s plan for a “Performing Arts Center and Music Instruction Space”, included a building 35 feet below grade level, and 35 feet above grade level, to accommodate both the height restriction, and the 67 foot high interior space requirement.  This plan was first presented to the public on Oct. 7, 2007, and was subsequently submitted to The Selectmen ​as a​ “Municipal Improvement”.

Immediately upon starting excavation on July 1, 2011, workmen reported the site had been filled with chemicals subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

On December 3, 2012 The Department of Public Works obtained a TSCA “Conditional Approval” allowing BOE to “encapsulate” all remaining PCBs inside the “MISA Footprint”.  Federal restrictions on this “compliant cap” pushed most of the MISA foundation out of the ground, and required Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission approval.

BOE neither sought nor obtained required permits for soil remediation or a higher building.  Instead, it appears, they have built MISA lower, atop a non-compliant PCB cap that has already leaked PCBs into the MISA foundation.

I can’t wait to hear how it sounds.

Bill Effros

Greenwich, CT