Things are getting really ugly in Greenwich as election day grows closer.
The latest battle involves what to do with Old Greenwich Elementary School (OGS), a 121-year-old school that would require asbestos remediation should the Town decide to move ahead with a renovation.
The OGS Building Committee plan called for asbestos remediation to take place at the same time students would be attending school inside the building.
Republicans on the Greenwich Board of Estimation and Taxation (BET) were strongly opposed to any asbestos remediation taking place while children were present in the building. Much to their surprise, the school administration, along with OGS Building Committee Chairman James Waters, initially downplayed those concerns as "fear-mongering".
Although the school has since backed off the plan to remediate asbestos while students are in the building, it does not explicitly commit to doing so.
Speculation is now growing over whether it makes more sense to build an entirely new school given the hidden dangers and often huge costs associated with asbestos remediation, something that should be known to at least one Democrat on the BET, Leslie Moriarty. She previously worked for W.R. Grace, one of the companies at the center of the asbestos scandal, at the same time that scandal was unfolding.
Former CT State Representative Harry Arora, issued an email about the very real and serious risks posed by remediation, and cited an extensive hazard study that "found significant amounts of asbestos and other hazardous materials" present in the school. He said that harm from asbestos exposure could take up to 20 years to show up, and that a 3-year renovation of a flood-prone, 121-year-old school just didn't make sense.
That's why Arora is calling for the brakes to be put on the planned renovation, and wants to build a brand-new elementary school in Old Greenwich instead.
He emailed a list of constituents about the issues, and asked them to complete a survey so he could better understand how the community at large feels about having students attend school in the midst of asbestos remediation. He's previously shared similar concerns with constituents regarding remediation taking place while children were in the building.
Waters, who is also running for re-election to the Greenwich RTM, forwarded Arora's survey on his Facebook group "Support Greenwich Schools" where he called on members to spike the survey in favor of Waters' renovation plan. He also spread misinformation that people could take the survey multiple times, which is actually not true, unless you set up fake email accounts because you intend to spike the results, that is. This is far from the first time Waters has been accused of spreading misinformation on social media.
Neighbors have previously accused Waters, whose mother is the President of the left-leaning League of Women Voters, of intimidating voters at the polls on election day while perched in the back of his pick-up truck. Unfortunately, they have all declined to go on the record out of fear of repercussions they might sustain at the hands of a "political animal" like Waters.
Here are examples of social media comments Waters has directed at his fellow Republicans, so you can better understand why his neighbors worry about an angry backlash.