Nancy Rossi, Democratic candidate for mayor, has serious concerns regarding the West Haven High School renovation project’s financing and demolition schedule. Mayor Ed O’Brien has stated publically that the demolition of the G-wing, which houses the shop classes, is scheduled to begin this summer, before the project is formally put out to bid. The City Council will consider a bonding ordinance on Monday, June 12, which will authorize $133 million for the project. Approximately 72 percent of the cost will be reimbursed by the state.
“The problem is that the high school renovation project has not been advertised for a formal bid, and this administration is going to start tearing down the existing building. It is like gutting your kitchen before you get prices from a contractor to renovate it. It is irresponsible, and doesn’t make any sense. What will happen if the bids come in at $150 million? We are already living a financial nightmare,” Rossi said.
“The high school project cost was $124 million two years ago, and Mayor O’Brien stalled the project so he could appoint his own building committee—and now here we are with a project that will cost the taxpayers $9 million more, and will have 14 fewer classrooms which are worth at least another $6 million. I have not seen anything saying we will receive a credit for those lost classrooms, which begs the question ‘What are we really getting for an extra $15 million?’ The bottom line is we are paying much more and getting much less” Rossi explained.
“Let me be clear, I am completely in favor of the high school project, and believe it is necessary in order to provide our students with a quality education to compete in today’s world. However, I am concerned we are putting the cart before the horse. We were better prepared two years ago, but now we are hastily starting a project without a contract. What are Mayor O’Brien and our City Council going to do if we knock down the shop wing and then can’t afford the price tag? What is the rush for demolition? Follow normal procedures — complete the drawings and put the project out to bid before you start demolition—we need to interject some common sense here” Rossi concluded.