Two prominent Westporters — former State Representative Ken Bernhard, and attorney Larry Weisman — have followed the Long Lots Elementary School building project with interest.
Today they delivered a letter to the Planning & Zoning Commission, with copies to the Board of Finance, Board of Selectwomen, and RTM moderator.
In it, they ask the P&Z to treat 2 components of the project — the school building itself, and the baseball field that may replace the current Westport Community Gardens — as separate issues, rather than one.
The letter has been signed by nearly 200 residents. They include Democrats, Republicans, and former members of bodies like the Board of Education, Board of Finance and RTM.
The letter says:
Dear Planning and Zoning Commissioners,
With respect to the administration’s decision to replace the Community Gardens with a Babe Ruth-sized playing field, many in town feel that good governance and fair play have not received their due.
Advocates for additional playing fields, including the administration and its handpicked committee, have prevailed notwithstanding complaints by other legitimate stakeholders that the process was flawed on multiple levels.
Even requests for a second look by the Public Site & Building Commission (designated by the Town Charter as the “school building committee”) have been denied, despite the obvious value of review at no cost to the town by an independent body with expertise and experience in construction and development of similar projects.
The Long Lots School Project has two distinct and independent components: 1. demolition and reconstruction of the school, and 2. construction of a playing field on the adjacent town-owned property now occupied by the Community Gardens.
Letter writers say that the construction of a new Long Lots Elementary School …
The matter will soon come before the Planning & Zoning Commission upon the request of the administration for a single 8-24 review, on the mistaken assumption that the two parts should or must be treated as one even though they involve two separate and distinct uses on two separate pieces of land.
We believe that it is a mistake to treat the two components as one because the P&Z can only either approve or disapprove an 8-24 request; it cannot modify the submission or impose conditions upon its implementation.
… is a discussion separate from the future of the Westport Community Gardens.
The effect of treating these disparate uses on unrelated sites as one is to limit the ability of the P&Z to evaluate each of the components of this project on its own merits and perhaps to approve of one while disapproving of the other.
Furthermore, after reviewing the relevant documentation, several qualified observers with considerable expertise and real-world construction experience firmly believe that there is adequate land on the school site to accommodate both a new school, (including staging and storage during construction), and a playing field without encroaching upon the adjacent site occupied by the gardens. To date however, those opinions have not been heard because those holding them have not been afforded an opportunity for meaningful participation in the decision-making process.
In view of the aforesaid, we respectfully request that the P&Z either encourage the administration to submit two 8-24 requests acknowledging the separate components of the project or, failing that, that it issues a negative 8-24 report on a submission that combines the two severable components.
Ken Bernhard, Larry Weisman
Ken Wirfel Elle Lowenstein Sybil Steinberg
Bob Jacobs Mimi Greenlee Dave Matlow
Dede McDowell Mike Guthman Jo Ann Davidson
Lucy Johnson Sandra Urist Diane Wildman
Rick Benson Jane Jessup Mike Szeto
Nancy Vener Janine Scotti Pietro Scotti
Andrew Coleman Relly Coleman Jeff Nevill
Yulee Aronson Mary-Lou Weisman John Paul
Lynn Paul Valerie Szeto Sam Levenson
Don Bergman Carolanne Curry Diane Bosch
Eric Bosch Bill Klein Idalia Rodriquez
Larry Kleinman Kate McGarvey Jean-Pierre Montillier
Brian McGarvey Phil Glick Sara Glick
James Mather Jesse Harte James Brown
Dalma Heyn Shelia Smith Mary-Claire Grosgogeat
Mark Steckel Ellen Winnick Willian Anderson
Linda Mak Chin Ethan Chin Edward Chin
Sally Kleinman Allegra Gottizemel Elizabeth Duvall
Lee Wrubel David Meth Linda Pryele
Mathew Sagal Linda Kowalsky Morgaine Pauker
William Berson Gene Byrne Art Gang
Debra Smolka Ed Smolka Jane Jacobs
Emily Jacobs Gavin Broady Chuck Greenlee
Lori Meinke Theresa Roth Eric Friedland
Ann Matlow Sari Bodi Deborah Press
Michael Press Eleanor Spangler Douglas Spangler
Susie Anderson Irmgard Gwilliam Al Gwilliam
Lori Hammer Pamela Davis Jeff Gershowitz
Will Hamilton Marc Fischer Jean Pierre Montillier
Sara Montillier Sara Montillier Maura Keenan
Peter Keenan Patricia Boyle Edward Boyle
Alec Head George Waterman Mary Sue Waterman
Benjamin Head Marguerite Webb Phyllis Freeman
Joseph Wiles Michelle Wiles Joyce Barnhart
Nancy Gentile Andrew Gentile Amy Unikewicz
Leslie Meredith Chris Grimm Miriam Roth
Julie Cook Peter Cook Alison Freeland
Ellie Tsurdinis Margaret Freeland Tim Simons
Kataryna Parciak Christopher Clanton Ester Clanton
Orly Angerthal Julie O’Grady Martin O’Grady
Liam O’Grady Terrie Langer Chris Singer
Steven Chin Pam Barkentin Marjorie Donalds
Lous Weinberg Cris Haggerty Erin Loranger
Laureen Haynes Melody Ware Paddy Duecy
Pat Duecy Mickael Beebe Netta Levy
Sally Kleinman Jacque Masumian Monique Nebelung
Greg Rosen Jeff Schorer Edward Saenz
Karen La Costa Zuzana Daure Eric Daure
Susan Poretta Peter Swift Leslie Gransberry
Kathleen Kiley Cynthia Mindell-Wong Martha Corneck
Hayes Clark Clare Clark Laura Schwartz
Josh Schwartz Phillip Schemel Alexander Jinishian
Megan Will Tim Cook
Nancy Lewis Greg Wolfe Mayann Alley
Yun Mai Lewis Bellardo Julietta Bellardo
Joe Mackiewicz Kim Mackiewicz Nancy Sinclaire
Glen Hodes Kathleen Wauchope