Last week, Ken Bernhard was Paul Revere.
The Cohen & Wolf lawyer — a former state representative, assistant minority leader and Westport town attorney — was appalled that Morgan Stanley was tossing at least $100,000 worth of office furniture into a wood chipper, in preparation of a move from 320 Post Road West to new digs on Post Road East.
Bernhard contacted Jeff Wieser, CEO of Homes With Hope. The Westport housing non-profit managed to save “1/20” of the cherry desks, tables, chairs, sofas, bookcases, credenzas and other perfectly good goods.
This week, Bernhard was Kojak.
He spent the past few days trying to get answers from Morgan Stanley: about why they had thrown away so much furniture, and whether there was any truth to the rumor that a similar dump — though 4 times as large — is planned for this Friday, at the financial firm’s Nyala Farm site.
Bernhard said he hoped that Morgan Stanley would follow its own policy of “relocating” unneeded furniture “within other MS facilities,” then reselling or donating the rest to a third parties. He urged the company to work with Westport, other local communities and non-profits, allowing access to Nyala Farms for inspection and perhaps recycling of what the firm is about to discard. He even offered himself as a facilitator to help make it happen.
Bernhard was not pleased with the hemming, hawing and eventual silence from corporate headquarters.
Yesterday, he sent another email. He noted that a hospice facility in Stamford said it needs office furniture. They were happy to send a truck to pick it up.
In all honesty, I don’t understand MS’s perceived intransigence in not giving away some of what the company plans to destroy. In some communities the waste of valuable, useful assets might go unnoticed or overlooked, but Westport citizens aspire to do better than that. We have a strong, vibrant recycling program, a Green Task force, and municipal goals to reduce the community’s carbon footprint. Morgan Stanley is a part of our community.
Again, I offer my services to act as facilitator in identifying not-for-profits or others that might benefit from the reuse of furniture that will otherwise be wasted.
So far, he has not heard back.
Meanwhile, the clock ticks toward Friday.
And whatever happens at Nyala Farm — the sprawling office complex tucked away in the rolling hills off the Sherwood Island Connector — will be a lot less visible than it was on Post Road West.