I have reported the minutes of the Shuffle Building Committee (SBC) on this blog concentrating on 35 Leroy. Even for me, this has been an eye opening experience. I have seen much ineptness in Darien over my 32 years but this took the prize. We are not done with 35 Leroy. In the recent issue of the Darien Times, Director of School Facilities Mike Lynch explained that an additional $40,000 was needed “to bring the building’s boiler room up to code, as it had been without a boiler for four years.” Will this ever end?
I have said that Darien’s government is inept and corrupt. 35 Leroy puts that issue to rest. The special education scandal and the related fraudulent audit, non audit review, the Hecker Avenue mess, the very deadly refusal to have Paramedics based in Darien et al all lead to a picture of ineptness and corruption. 35 Leroy seals the deal.
Therefore, the first implication is that Darien’s government is inept and corrupt. Then I think we have to face the fact that we cannot rely on the town’s buildings, including the schools, to be safe and healthy environments. Having reviewed this project, you cannot have any confidence that the building review process in Darien is performed competently and with integrity. This means that we cannot assume the three major developments will be reviewed with the town’s best interests in mind.
Under Democratic First Selectman Evonne Klein, 35 Leroy was envisioned to be an affordable housing project. Among the problems with this idea was that there were very few units planned, I think the number was 21, for such a valuable piece of property. Another problem was that the nearby neighbors on Old Stone Road were very upset with the idea of a large affordable housing project nearby. This also helped to keep the number of units small. Norm Guimond, a resident of Old Stone Road, became prominent in the 35 Leroy debate resulting in his becoming the first Chairman of the SBC. Ironically, the Old Stone residents should have been more concerned with the development on the corner of Leroy and West. Just go look at it when you get a chance.
Early Days of the SBC
What struck me about the minutes of the early meetings of the SBC was that there did not seem to be any attempt to get an objective assessment of the condition of the building. When you open up an old building, lots of problems come out of the woodwork. The best course of action might have been to tear down the building and build new. I suspect the rush to move the Education Administration into 35 Leroy and cost drove the decision to work with the existing structure. However, it might have been faster and cheaper to tear down and build new.
Town Counsel is incompetent.
This saga has been going on for over five years and is still not done. How many times did you read that the roof was OK, that the HVAC system was OK, that the project was on schedule and the project’s costs were under control. None of those things were true and nothing was done about it over five plus years. This is inexcusable.
Dave is a very generous person. He has done much to help Darienites in need. Having said that, he should not be allowed near anything that is a serious, complex task. He may want to help but it just doesn’t work out. DHS and now 35 Leroy are prime examples.
The next Dave subject is more difficult to discuss. It involves the two bankruptcies. I cannot tell you how many people don’t believe the “coincidence” that these two vendors went bankrupt. Readers bring up Dave’s experience with builders and want to know about dealings between Dave’s business and these two failed businesses. Disclosure would be helpful and I just hope there are no problems.
Inside and Outside
When I talk to Susan Cameron, the Chairman of the P&Z Commission, she maintains that P&Z is responsible for the outside of the building and the Building Department is responsible for the inside of the building. The problems seem to be with the inside of the building. Having said that, the “As Built” Survey, required by the P&Z resolution that dealt with the outside of the building was never done. I am still not sure it has been done.
In addition, the P&Z resolution required that all codes and regulations be followed. Even if this involved the inside of the building and not under the strict jurisdiction of the P&Z Commission, I believe Cameron had an obligation to speak up publicly. To my knowledge, she did not speak up.
There were and still are (the boiler) major problems with the inside of the building. The CO was signed on the same day my letter appeared in the Darien Times saying there was no signed CO in force. At the next SBC meeting, there was a long list of serious problems still pending and that remains the case today. I do not understand how that CO could have been signed. I believe that it is quite possible that town employees were forced to sign the CO. I do not see another explanation. The CO is the main reason I feel Town Counsel is incompetent.
You have to wonder if the “retirement” under mysterious circumstances of the Building Department Chief, the “resignation” of P&Z Commission Chairman Fred Conze and the non-renomination of P&Z Commission member Joe Spain all allowed the cover up Of 35 Leroy which has now been exposed.
“Gone Girl” is Responsible
If the Building Department is responsible for the inside of 35 Leroy, then “Gone Girl” Stevenson is responsible for the inside of 35 Leroy because the Building Department reports to “Gone Girl.” In addition, “Gone Girl” has overall responsibility and the SBC reports to the BOS and she heads the BOS.
Where are We?
I have no idea where we are and I don’t believe anything “Gone Girl” says. You have to wonder if 35 Leroy is a safe and healthy work environment. In fact, you have to wonder if any town building is a safe and healthy work environment.