Greenwich Gossip

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Greenwich Settles for a Third-Rate High School

The "new" Greenwich High School, built during the late 60s, was obsolete even before it opened in 1970. Over the years the Town has tried to play catch-up, with mixed success. Now the Town is apparently throwing in the towel, and not even bothering to try to give our students the facilities that they deserve and that State law mandates. Shame on the Town of Greenwich!

In particular, the High School's auditorium is a disgrace. It can only hold a fraction of the student population, thereby violating State law and necessitating multiple Commencement ceremonies during inclement weather. The acoustics are, well, problematic, to say the least. Watching Patrick Taylor climb a makeshift scaffold to conduct the "Hallelujah Chorus" is enough to give your scribe a heart attack, not only out of fear for his safety, but also because of the amount of damages for which the Town would be liable if an accident were to occur. For years the GHS students have been performing in sub-standard conditions that should have been condemned before they ever received a certificate of occupancy. For years the Town has negligently failed to do anything to correct the situation. Shame, shame on the Town of Greenwich!

And now, just as the projected new auditorium project is finally beginning to take shape, it has been consigned to the dustheap in favor of a firehouse project that isn't even on the drawing boards, which was originally presented as a $23 million "renovation", and which is now bruited to be totally new construction at who knows what cost? The wrangling over this project may well go on for years. And meanwhile, Greenwich High School falls ever further and further behind the other school districts in the State of Connecticut. Shame, shame, shame on the Town of Greenwich!

Be it noted that the Town of Greenwich has a solid triple-A credit rating. The cost of borrowing money at the present time is a mere fraction of one percent. The $27 million cost of the new auditorium would come out to perhaps $250,000/300,000 a year, including amortization of the loan. That is peanuts for a Town like this. And we would look like financial heroes when inflation starts to take off, as it assuredly will, sooner if not later. If the Town drags its feet on this project for another year, or two, or three, the borrowing costs will have risen exponentially, and this historic opportunity to build it at a virtually zero-percent interest cost will be gone forever.

But no. The Town is shelving this vital project. "Go to Hell," seems to be the message being sent to the Greenwich High School community. "We don't care about you, or about doing the right thing. Come back some other time, and maybe we'll take another look. Or maybe not, if your project costs rise in the interim, along with interest rates. In which case, fuggedaboutit."

Shame, shame, shame, shame on the Town of Greenwich.


Blogger StamfordFrank said...

Great post.

There is no better time than now to pour money into our high school.

As one of the main selling points of our town (the school system), it is silly to let it remain as archaic as it is now.

Blogger Bill Clark said...

Thanks for the comment, Frank.

You are absolutely right. It is penny wise and pound foolish not to make Greenwich High the best school we can make it--our real estate will benefit, which will help the tax base. Oh, and there's also the small matter of the students benefiting as well....