Editorial: Yes on renovation

Much has been said on this and the next three pages for and against — although mostly for — the proposed renovation of Miller-Driscoll School at a total cost of just over $50 million. There are still a few points to be made.

With all the breath that has been expended on the poor condition of this building it begs the question: why has the town/school district waited so long?

According to Christine Finkelstein’s letter, the roof has been leaking for more than a decade. That is a long time to keep patching.

There have been several references to the noisy HVAC system. Again, why the wait?

There is no sprinkler system. Although Wilton Fire Marshal David Kohn says the school is not violating any building codes, the installation of sprinklers will bring the school up to current codes. There should be no further delay on this issue.

The last half-dozen years have been difficult for many financially, but these problems precede the Great Recession. To argue the inaction on these issues will not solve anything. The community is in a situation where it can no longer delay needed upgrades to this school.

Questions have been raised about the plan. And to be clear, asking questions is a good thing. That is how information is discerned. Do not dismiss the questioners as simply naysayers.

One question surrounds the size of the cafeteria. It will be smaller, which seems counterintuitive. But the school currently has two cafeterias with two kitchen facilities. They will be consolidated into one. It should be more than adequate and Miller-Driscoll administrators have said lunch times will not be changed.

Another concerns the pre-K program. Could it take place somewhere else?

The alternatives offered — Comstock Community Center or Gilbert & Bennett School — are also old and used for other purposes now. Also, most of the Miller-Driscoll preschoolers will have special needs. Let them get used to the school they will be in until second grade right from the get-go.

The money for this project will not be borrowed all at once. As with any renovation, it will be paid in stages. But the money that will be borrowed now will be obtained at an extremely low interest rate.

This project will prevent the town from taking on other big projects — like a new police station — for a while, but to allow Miller-Driscoll to degrade further would be foolhardy.

It is true families settle in Wilton for the schools. But this is not the only good school system in Fairfield County, and other towns are attractive in many ways. A substandard primary school will not do anyone any good.

Vote “yes” on the plan to renovate Miller-Driscoll.