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BET OKs More Money for MISA-related Work

BET rejects release of funds to continue design work for fire station on King Street; says alternative site should be found.

The approved $450,000 in additional appropriations to help cover design and testing costs borne from the ongoing soil contamination problem at .

The , which is handling the overall management of the removal of contaminated soil at the 47-acre campus, needs $200,000 to pay the consulting firm of AECom to continue testing in various areas of the campus and to analyze the extent of the contamination of PCBs, lead and other chemicals.

More soil and water sampling will be done on the Hillside Road campus during the April spring recess and DPW officials have said those test results along with the results of tests done in February, will help determine how much remediation will be needed to meet state and federal regulations. Department of Public Works Commissioner Amy Siebert told the BET's budget committee on March 15 that a remediation plan should be completed by next fall.

The contamination was discovered in July 2011 when construction was begun on the Music Instructional Space and Auditorium (MISA) project. The town paid about $1.3 million to remove the contaminated dirt and the MISA building committee now finds it must revamp some of the project design.

Building committee chairman Joe Rossi told the BET budget committee on March 15 that mechanical systems involving air conditioning and drainage need to be redesigned and that engineers have found asbestos in the auditorium which must be removed before it can be demolished. Rossi said that it was common years ago for asbestos to be covered over and sealed to eliminate health risks. Current regulations now mandate the removal before any demolition can take place.

The BET approved the release of $250,000 to cover the design and consulting work.

Given the contamination, and the state and federally-mandated cleanup, the overall cost of the $28 million MISA project is now expected to cost about $37 million, officials said.

One of the other major votes at the monthly meeting focused on the rejection of releasing $100,000 that would have paid for design plans for a new firehouse on King Street.

First Selectman Peter Tesei and officials sought the release of the money to pay for the design of a fire station on King Street, on property the town owns next door to the , which the town also owns. 

The town purchased the site in 2004 for $1.2 million expecting to building a northwest Greenwich fire station to house one engine crew as well as a Greenwich Emergency Medical Service crew. The amount of wetlands on the property only will allow for construction of a 2-bedroom and one-bay garage facility to house firefighters, according to Alan Monelli, the town's superintendent of construction and building maintenance.

The BET affirmed its budget committee recommendation that alternative sites be sought and rejected the funding request. BET officials and Tesei said Monday night that six property owners on King Street and on Riversville Road have responded to the town's solicitation of buying property for a fire house. The BET wants the town to explore the feasibility of those properties.

For years, the town has tried to find a location to build a station to reduce response times to the section of town that borders New York State.

The BET also voted to approve the appointment of the accounting firm of McGladrey and Pullen as the town's outside auditor for two years, with an option to renew the contract for 3 one-year terms. The total cost over 5 years would be about $600,000. The outside audits are mandated by the state of Connecticut, according to town Comptroller Peter Mynarski. McGladrey and Pullen replaces the firm of Blum and Shapiro.

Bill Effros March 20, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Contaminated Dirt: Where did the contaminated dirt come from, how contaminated was it, how much was there, and where did it go? It is a violation of Superfund law to create a new Superfund site by surreptitiously shipping contaminated dirt from one location to another. Bill Effros
Bill Effros March 20, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Revamp Project Design: PCBs have been found in CERCLA Reportable Quantities (RQs) throughout the MISA Auditorium Footprint. The entire footprint must be excavated to bedrock levels and encapsulated. No foundation can ever be sunk into the encapsulated bedrock. There is no need to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money on a "Revamped Project Design". Building a 70 foot high auditorium above encapsulated bedrock without anchoring the building will likely be cost prohibitive, even if it is possible. Bill Effros
Bill Effros March 20, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Asbestos Removal: BOE spent more than $1,000,000 removing all asbestos from Greenwich High School, and told the community it had done so pursuant to RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) standards. If any asbestos remains in the high school, the contractor paid to remove it is now responsible for costs, not Greenwich taxpayers. Bill Effros
Bill Effros March 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Are "Joe Ross" and "Joe Rossi" 2 Different People? I see the name of the MISA Building Committee Chairman printed both ways. I assume the reference is to the same person. Which is correct? Bill Effros
Bill Effros March 20, 2012 at 06:32 PM
The Greenwich Performing Arts Center Auditorium Cost: "The Greenwich Performing Arts Center Auditorium" was originally proposed as a $14,000,000 renovation of the GHS auditorium along with expanded parking to accommodate larger crowds. When the estimated cost went to $20,000,000 (enough to build a new high school) BOE changed the name of the project to "MISA" and explained the additional cost as "Music Instruction Space" renovation. Actual Music Instruction Space renovation boosted the stated total cost to $28,000,000. "Bifurcating" the project into two separately budgeted phases raised the anticipated total cost to $35,000,000. Now we are told the total is $37,000,000 Please note, this is for the Auditorium, only. The "Music Instruction Space" and parking are no longer included in the "Footprint", which is now known to be contaminated to dangerously toxic levels requiring extensive and costly Superfund remediation, also not included in the budgeted total. The $37,000,000 total does not include most of the cost incurred to date--at least $13,000,000 more, bringing the total projected cost to more than $50,000,000 not counting PCB remediation which will almost certainly cost more than the auditorium itself. Bill Effros

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