Connecticut Foundation
for Environmentally Safe Schools

Windham County

Leaks Disrupt Plainfield Project's End

October 7, 2006:
by Francesca Kefalas, Norwich Bulletin

A leaking roof is keeping the town from closing the high school building project and it is costing taxpayers money. Paul Delmonico, chairman of the building committee, said there are minor leaks coming from the venting stacks on the roof.

"It's not a huge problem, by any means, but it should be dealt with," Delmonico said. "If we don't deal with it now, at some point in time, it will have to be dealt with."

The building committee began more than five years ago and has overseen every step of the school construction. Doors to the school opened in August 2005.

But, the town cannot receive the rest of its state grant or get the 20-year bond to pay for the project until the project is closed. Finance Director Joe Gillis said the town has paid an extra $100,000 for short-term loans and legal assistance.

"It will probably be more than that when it's all done," Gillis said. First Selectman Kevin Cunningham is trying to organize a joint meeting with the selectmen, building committee and the boards of education and finance to figure out a way to close the project soon.

"The building committee wants to make sure that any outstanding issues are taken care of," Cunningham said. "I don't think they understand the financial issues."

But, Delmonico said the school is about $350,000 under budget. The committee has been given a possible solution to the leaks, and it should be taken care of under the auspices of the building project, so the town can get the maximum reimbursement, he said.

Superintendent of Schools Mary Conway is in discussion with the state to understand all the details of how closure of the project should work. Closure means the money to fix any outstanding issues must come from the town or the Board of Education and cannot be rolled into the bond for the high school.

"It's like when a parent tells a child he can spend $50 to buy school clothes and gives the child a credit card," Conway said. "If the child spends $42, he's not going to get the other $8 from mom."

The state also must accept the closure of the project once it has been certified by the school board. Conway said she will recommend the board get written statements of certification from the various contractors and others involved in the project.

Delmonico said the committee would like to close the project soon, but also feels compelled to ensure everything is completed properly. Taxpayer Barbara Arpin appreciates that sentiment.

"They should get the school done right," Arpin said. Reach Francesca Kefalas at 334-2509 or fkefalas@norwich

What's Next?

The Board of Education will meet to discuss project closure. First Selectman Kevin Cunninghamhopes to have a joint meeting of the selectmen, Board of Education, School Building Committee and Board of Finance by the end of the month.


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