Miller-Driscoll: Citizen says committee improperly formed

A citizen long critical of plans to renovate the Miller-Driscoll school told the Board of Selectmen Monday, Dec. 15, he believes the project’s building committee was improperly formed.

Producing a Town of Wilton document titled Bonded Capital Projects Process, Curt Noel said the make-up of the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee did not follow the town’s requirements.

The document’s recommendations suggest only residents of Wilton be named to a building committee, while members of any board with “approval or review responsibility” should be excluded; including members of the boards of selectmen or finance.

“This was specifically drawn to keep town officials, employees, and the like off the building committees,” Mr. Noel said, though only five of the committee’s 12 members meet the document’s requirements.

It is not yet known whether the Bonded Capital Projects Process document is a mandate to town officials while forming building committees, or simply a memorandum of suggestion. First Selectman Bill Brennan said at the meeting he believes the document is “eight or nine years old.”

Clarification on the validity of the Bonded Capital Projects Process document was not received from the town’s legal counsel by publication, though The Bulletin believes it was first provided to resident Marianne Gustafson by the town’s chief financial officer, Sandy Dennies, after a Freedom of Information request.

Mr. Noel specifically asked the board of selectmen whether this document was “irrelevant.”

“It’s an executive summary of how the process is supposed to work,” Mr. Brennan said.

Mr. Noel said he will continue to question the issue as he has “very real questions about the performance of the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee and whether the people that were on there, should have been on there.”

“The record here is that this started at $5 million, then it was $23 million, and now we are at $50 million. I don’t think a lot of that money has anything to do with educating kids.”

Among those alleged to be named to the building committee improperly, according to Mr. Noel’s conclusions, are Selectman Dick Dubow, Board of Education member Karen Birck, Board of Finance member John Kalamarides and four Board of Education employees.

Turner Construction

The word “Turner” also appears on the projects process document next to a suggestion that “The Town Facilities Manager” be included on any building committee. It is unclear whether Turner Construction is considered the town facility manager, or was written in as an additional suggestion as a building committee member.

One citizen at last night’s meeting suggested the town has become too “intertwined” with Turner Construction. Resident Kevin Hickey told the board “where we have underestimated cost, a lot of projects have been poorly completed. Why are we intertwined with Turner Construction? I have an issue with us using them for everything.”

Mr. Dubow responded saying, “It’s surprising to me that you’re picking on Turner. They’re highly competent with a good reputation. [Their] being on a number of projects doesn’t make them evil, it makes them competent.”

He also said that all of Wilton’s requests for proposals and bids go through an independent agency.