SWOMLEY: Alarm bells are going off and we need to wake up in Greenwich.

Submitted by Joanna Swomley, Greenwich

Alarm bells are going off and we need to wake up in Greenwich. Someone(s) are really going to be seriously injured or worse because our leaders refuse to take care of our Town.

Our infrastructure is outdated, our toxic fields are sitting without remediation after all these years, our schools, which do not even comply with federal law, are literally falling apart and we don’t have adequate fire service for one of the largest parts of town – all because those who run the Town believe you should not fix anything unless there is absolutely no alternative.

Forget actual urban planning. We can’t even contemplate preventing emergencies. And while our property values may be experiencing a Covid increase (after over a decade of decline and/or stagnation), that condition is likely temporary as new buyers will choose New Canaan, Darien and Westport over Greenwich. Let us count a few of the reasons why this is an eventuality.

Fred Camillo famously stated, “schools don’t teach; teachers teach” in response to criticism of our crumbling school buildings. Then North Mianus School experienced a catastrophic ceiling collapse that could have killed school children had school been in session. During a recent RTM committee meeting, five out of 12 Public Works Committee members, including the chair, Michael Spilo, voted against the proposed appropriation of funds to fix the North Mianus School as requested by the Board of Education, some wanting to wait until the school is slated for upgrades – in 2035!

Many of our schools’ fields have been known to be toxic for decades yet they have not been remediated (the powers that be preferring to stick their heads in the sand, not wanting to know the degree of bad).

And, the record is clear about the need for dedicated professional fire fighters in the NW area (including by a consultant the Town just spent $100,000 to reach the same conclusion) and yet not a dime has been appropriated by Camillo and the Republican-controlled BET.

So to fellow Town residents I say: the problems are not going to fix themselves and neither are the current elected officials. Our property values will not keep pace with our peers as new home buyers look at tired, worn, Greenwich and move a little further east for more appealing schools and infrastructure.

We need to vote for schools and infrastructure this November. Vote for people who will act, not merely study problems and procrastinate. We also need more people to run for office, including the RTM, as it can hold up progress too. If you are Republican, get involved in your Town Committee and vote to nominate new forward thinking candidates for the BET – people who will actually address our failing infrastructure BEFORE another ceiling falls in or another fire destroys a home in the NW. Let’s actually do some urban planning – invest in our schools and fire protection, deal with parking, traffic, try to reduce our waste and be more environmentally conscious. Sadly, that cannot happen unless we change our First Selectman and control of the BET.  We can change BET control by giving Democratic BET candidates more total votes this November AND also change the complexion of the current Republican BET membership.

If Greenwich residents do not become more involved in their Town government, they can only expect more of the same. And in the long run, we will all pay the price.