Letter: Brennan Blasts Sensible Wilton's Efforts

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Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan,
Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan, Photo Credit: File

To the editor:

Sensible Wilton’s recent petition initiative is a re-run of their last misguided effort to ignore the democratic principle that a majority vote determines the outcome of a referendum.

In September, town electors supported the unanimous recommendations of the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Board of Education and voted to fund the badly needed renovations to the Miller Driscoll School.

Sensible Wilton’s continuing determination to undo the substantial work that has already started is not only an ill-conceived distraction for our community, but undermines Wilton’s obligation to provide for the educational needs of its youngest children and special needs students.

In seeking support for a “re-do” on the bonding initiative, Sensible Wilton’s advocacy is both shameful and deceptive. By way of example, one of its principal arguments is that all that is required to “fix” the school is a new roof and a replacement of the HVAC system. This is absurd.

To replace only the roof and HVAC system would be a very costly, ineffective and poor use of taxpayer dollars. It would be like putting a small patch on a worn tire; it might get you to the corner drugstore, but it will never get you to where you want to go. Let me explain.

The Miller Driscoll School is a fifty year old facility. It is worn and outdated. It needs a great many improvements to not only meet community standards, but to be in compliance with the existing building codes. In addition to the roof repairs and the replacement of the HVAC system, the school’s electrical and plumbing systems need upgrading.

A fire suppression/sprinkler system needs to be installed. Hazardous materials need to be abated. The leaky/drafty windows need to be replaced. Modern security, digital control and energy efficient lighting systems are required. And more. To do all that is needed efficiently and cost effectively, the projects must be integrated and the work coordinated. To do the work piecemeal, as the Sensible Wilton folks call for, makes no sense and indicates a serious lack of construction knowledge and economics. Lastly, separating the re-roofing and HVAC system from the overall renovation of the project would eliminate the opportunity to receive any reimbursement from the State.

Equally troubling, if we were to stop now, the Town would be confronted with significant contractual damages and other legal issues, which would undoubtedly be costly to resolve. And most important, essential ongoing design/construction planning activity would be halted and most likely delayed for many more years, which would be a tragedy due to improvements urgently needed for this school.

Consequently, the future education of Wilton’s young children will continue to be this administration’s driving motivation and responsibility. It must also be pointed out that the members of Wilton’s boards are also taxpayers who would not have proposed the project if they didn’t believe, as I do, that it is in the community’s best financial interests to proceed with it.

They voted unanimously for it and at the town meeting, they enthusiastically called for the community’s endorsement of the proposal, as I do now by encouraging the public to understand the factual requirements of this project and not to support Sensible Wilton’s simplistic appeals.

In summary and as we have suggested on many occasions, citizens who have any questions or cost saving suggestions regarding this project are invited to attend the Miller Driscoll Building Committee meetings where building professionals will also be present to respond factually to questions or concerns.

Bill Brennan

Wilton First Selectman

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