Cheaper school walkway approved by Fairfield selectmen
Updated 1:17 pm, Thursday, January 5, 2017
Over the objection of First Selectman Mike Tetreau, Selectmen Chris Tymniak and Ed Bateson cut the $475,000 request to $275,000, providing enough funding for a translucent panel walkway, not the requested brick-and-glass walkway. The walkway connects an annex at the school with the main building and is designed to provide safety and protection from inclement weather for staff and students.
The low bid for the brick walkway was $677,400, while the bid for the panel walkway was $483,900. There is $293,916 still remaining in the budget for the school’s PCB remediation and new gym to put toward the walkway.
While Bateson and Tymniak said the town needs to keep a watchful eye on expenses, especially in light of expected cuts in state aid, Tetreau argued the cheaper alternative was short-sighted.
“I have a difficult time trading off short-cost for longer term,” Tetreau said. “The better value is $475,000 with brick and mortar.” He said the brick walkway is expected to have a life span of more than 40 years. The translucent panels have a life span of 20 years, when the panels will begin to break down and need repairs or replacement.
“I think the costs actually are the same over 40 years,” Tetreau said, because the translucent panels would essentially have to be purchased again in 20 years.
“We have to buy it again, so I don’t see a substantial cost difference,” he added.
Bateson countered that the original intent behind the build was to provide a level of protection.
“I’d like to give the community what it wants, but there’s a lot on our plate. Holland Hill is going to eat up a lot of resources,” he said, referring to the renovation and expansion planned planned Holland Hill Elementary School.
If there is an opportunity to save money today, Bateson said, “I’d like to save it.”
“Part of me wants to start the trend to have the Board of Education reduce the cost of this stuff,” Tymniakl said. “Our building committees are monumentally over what we target. Holland Hill is $7 million over what we anticipated.”
Safety-wise, both options received the support of the police department.
“We have an option, which is cheaper here,” Tymniak said. “Are we going to be consistent town-wide in an effort to save money or are we going to cherry pick?”
“The way I’m looking at cost per year, it’s the same,” Tetreau argued. “Either pay for 20 years, and pay then again for 20 years, or pay once for 40 years.”
The vote to approve $275,000 in funding was two to one, with Tetreau casting the dissenting vote. The expenditure must now be approved by the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting.