Greenwich BET Democrats have struck a Faustian bargain - a bargain in which one trades one's morals for material benefit and lure of power. They bargained away our students' safety and the CMS project's timeliness for an electoral narrative. How and why?
Republican-led BET approved funds for the new Central Middle School rebuild. The proposed plan is to begin construction in October 2024 and complete it by August 2026. The budget is $112 Million, of which $7 Million will be state-funded and $105 Million from Greenwich taxpayers. The size and site of the building have caused the budget to escalate.
Siting and sizing of the school have been controversial. There has been debate about the size and site of the new structure. The rebuild at the proposed site requires rock blasting, adding 600 trucks of topsoil, cutting down 2500 DBH of trees, and blasting out the rock outcropping, which has been in Greenwich forever (literally since the glaciers melted). The concern is that rock blasting/hammering and heavy equipment in the vicinity could further damage the condemned structure while students are in the building. That poses a risk to the integrity of the building and could cause a long delay to the project. If, in 2025, the current structure is found unfit, students will have to be relocated.
Republicans wanted a professional engineer's certification that the building would not be compromised during construction. Democrats opposed requiring a professional engineer's certification. They objected to that requirement because "No professional engineer would be willing to say that this building was not going to be compromised from construction in proximity." If no engineer would certify that the building will not be compromised, why would anyone want our students to be there during construction? Their position is that monitors will inform us if damage happens, and action will be taken once it is detected. To wait for damage to act is not a responsible course of action.
Republicans approved funds, by a split vote, but focused on safety and timing. Republicans insisted on immediately hiring a professional engineer to do such analysis, which was agreed upon in principle. While that provided some assurance, members split their vote, providing the funding, yet sending a strong signal that the safety of our students is most important. Greenwich Republicans focus on our student's safety, the timing of CMS, and getting the project right; Greenwich Democrats are focused on a virtue vote before the election. This is their Faustian bargain.