As expressed in a recent Darien Times editorial, we should not be seeking to fix blame for the 35 Leroy mess. Rather, we should all just get along and move forward. I disagree. I believe those who are most to blame most want to avoid affixing blame. Blame is important in assessing the incompetence of those we are assessing. The blame game helps with that assessment. Below is a Timeline to Blame. After putting together this timeline, I have become a believer in blame and not just accountability. Remember, I DERIDE, YOU DECIDE.
This is the date of the first building committee minutes which described the formation of the committee. I went to the office of the Town Clerk at Town Hall and obtained copies of the minutes in the committee’s file. I was told that if there were copies missing I should speak with the First Selectman’s office. It was unclear why a copy of minutes sent to the First Selectman would not have been kept in the Town Clerk’s file.
1/5/11 to 5/25/11
There are no building committee minutes between these dates even though the missing minutes of the 5/11/11 meeting were indicated as approved in the minutes of the 5/25/11 meeting
The minutes of 6/1/11 meeting were approved but the minutes of the 6/1/11 meeting were missing. Also in the 6/8/11 minutes a Mr. Malik appeared as the architect.
The minutes indicate Mr. Malik “noted that the 17 year old HVAC system is coming to the end of its useful life.” He also spoke of a need to review the sprinklers. The then School Superintendent Falcone “wished to verify….that humidity would be addressed in the building.” These comments were made almost five years ago.
The name Alan McLlveen appears as consulting engineer. The architect Malik “noted that the plan assumes the installation of sprinklers in the building.” McLlveen spoke about the mechanical systems and “stated that the majority of the equipment dated from the 1970s which met or exceeded their useful life expectancy.”
Nick Everett of AP Construction appears in the minutes. It is noted that the HVAC replacement was the primary cost driver.
A resolution dealing with 35 Leroy that had numerous stipulations and requirements passed the P&Z Commission. They are too numerous to include in their entirety here. An example would be the completion of a final “as-built” survey as a condition of a Certificate of Occupancy. I have not seen a mention of an “as-built” survey in my review of the minutes of the building committee’s minutes. The resolution states that the applicant is not relieved “of the responsibility of complying with all other applicable rules, regulations and codes of the Town, State, or other regulating agency.”
The building permit for 35 Leroy is date stamped 10/31/12 and signed by an employee who, I understand, “retired” the next month. There are those who say that there were questionable aspects to his retirement. Is it possible that this employee was “retired” to clear the way for approvals where no approval should have been issued?
There are no minutes between 7/27/11 and 11/13/12. This is a period of almost 16 months. The minutes of the 11/13/12 meeting indicate the minutes of the 10/23/12 meeting were approved. However, the minutes of the 10/23/12 meeting are missing. The minutes of the 11/13/12 indicate Dave Campbell is now Chairman. The last minutes available for the 7/27/11 indicated that Norm Guimond was Chairman.
The minutes indicate “the project is progressing as plumbers, electricians and HVAC workers set to work.” Mr. Campbell noted that fencing will be constructed around the construction site…..allowing for Darien Sports Shop employees to access some parking at 35 Leroy Ave until after Christmas.”
There are no minutes between 11/27/12 and 2/12/13. The minutes of the 1/22/13 meeting were approved but those minutes are missing. The minutes state: “Chairman Campbell noted that a flow test revealed that the pressure from the fire hydrant on Leroy Ave. does not allow sufficient water flow to accommodate the new sprinkler system.”
A temporary Certificate of Occupancy and Zoning Compliance is signed by the Building Official Peter Solheim, the Zoning Enforcement Officer Dave Keating and the Fire Marshall Robert Busch. The Building Official Solheim replaced the employee who signed the Building permit on 10/31/12 and “retired” the next month. This temporary CO expired on 8/28/13.
Minutes between 2/12/13 and 8/13/13 are missing. The minutes of the missing 7/23/13 minutes are approved. Clerk of the Works Ryan “explained that some of the generator pricing doesn’t conform to the contract and is being reviewed.
The temporary CO expires.
The minutes of the 9/10/13 are approved but, once again, those minutes are missing. The 10/1 minutes state: “it was reported that roof repairs have been completed.”
The minutes of the 10/8/13 are approved but they are missing.
The minutes of the 12/10//13 meeting were approved but they are missing. “Testing and balancing of the HVAC is underway and should be completed by Thursday, 1/16/14.” These are the last minutes that were in the file.
In a memo from Michael Lynch, Director of Facilities and Operations, to Dr. Lynne Pierson, Interim Superintendent of Schools, Lynch listed Unfinished/Incorrect Work. This list is very long. I will highlight just some items which seem important to this layman’s eye: repair slate roof/copper gutters, multiple locations, lighting levels in most work and public areas do not meet minimum lighting requirements, in the board room heating/ac levels and noise are not acceptable, in copy room 135 three open junction boxes in ceiling, storage 117 sprinkler hanging down, the sprinkler head not correctly installed in the superintendent’s office and etc., etc., etc.
I visited Town Hall and found no permanent CO, only the temporary CO which expired on 8/28/13, a year earlier.
The Darien Times publishes my letter which describes what I found and didn’t find on my visit to Town Hall on 8/12/14. A permanent CO dated 8/21/14 is issued. This is the same date my letter appeared.
Incredibly, in a Darien Times article Dave Campbell said: “a letter from resident Walter Casey triggered him to remember to get the permanent occupancy certificate.”
After postponing the issue, the RTM, in a close vote, transfers 35 Leroy from the Town to the BOE. Questions remain regarding cost and whether the “as-built” survey was ever done and how a permanent CO could have been issued.
This timeline, I believe, exposes a completely unacceptable level of incompetence and a deliberate attempt at a cover up. This was not an accident. The timeframe is just too long. There is much blame to go around. I have no confidence in those charged with bringing transparency to this matter including town counsel. I have no confidence that 35 Leroy is a healthy and safe work environment.