Welcome to Old Greenwich – A Funding Flyover State

Submitted by Brian Raabe, Old Greenwich

The debate over funding the Old Greenwich School modernization cannot be fully appreciated in isolation.

It should be viewed through the prism of an open car window as one travels the “funding flyover state” of Old Greenwich to the final destination of Tod’s Point.

“On your left you will see the soon to be completed Cohen Eastern Greenwich Civic Center, named after Steve and Alexandra Cohen, who generously donated $5 million toward its completion.”

The facility it replaces was built in 1950 as an employee recreation center for Electrolux.

It took decades of patchwork and a public private partnership to get the new Civic Center across the finish line.

Until that happened, the literally crumbling former Electrolux facility was the sole hub for youth athletics and civic engagement in Old Greenwich. 

Here First Selectman Camillo should be commended for the groundbreaking and the Cohens for their citizenship.

That said, it took years upon years, many administrations, and a large private donation to get to the point where Eastern Greenwich could upgrade its Civic Center from a former Electrolux camp for upper management. 

“Next on your left you will see the new main building for the town’s golf club.”

Is it larger than the Old Greenwich Elementary School? 

Looks bigger.  

Privately funded of course, and membership should rightly be proud. 

That said, should a country club really be larger and more modern than a school serving an entire district? 

This is not to say the club is necessarily off base, rather the state of the Old Greenwich School is. 

“Stop your carping OG – you got your new sewer lines a few years back!” 

Yes, thank you. I think that kept downtown Old Greenwich throwing off more dust than the Australian Outback for two summers straight, a miracle any business survived it. 

Those who favor knocking the school down and building a new one should appreciate how disruptive that would be to downtown. It’s bounced back once. Bouncing back twice is never a sure thing.  

In short, the track record suggests that funding is uncertain until secured, so forgive me if “Old Greenwich is next” is greeted with a dose of skepticism.

The argument that the bulk of current capital funding is being spent on Central Middle school at $70MM should not be construed as the town operating on its front foot when it comes to spending on schools. 

The building was condemned for a period of time.  Was there really a choice but to act?

In the case of Old Greenwich, the school is not ADA compliant, rooms are too small, sewage backs up into the facility during heavy rains.

That bears repeating.  

When there is heavy rain, sewer water backs into the school.

Yes, the United States.  

Yes, Greenwich.   

Wait until 2025?!