Saturday, May 22, 2010

Katherine Craven Answers Questions

Katherine Craven, Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) visited Longmeadow this past Wednesday, May 19 to provide commentary and answer questions about the new High School Project. I was particularly interested in this session and had submitted the following question:

There are many people in Longmeadow who believe that the current high school building project as developed by the School Building Committee and approved by the MSBA is too costly. If the June 8 ballot question on the Proposition 2½ debt exclusion override is defeated, would the MSBA be receptive to an alternative proposal that significantly reduces the overall cost to the town by modifying/eliminating the "renovation" portion of the project scope but retains the MSBA reimbursed portion?


Ms. Craven provided the answer that I was expecting to hear since she would not want to sabotage the upcoming Special Town Meeting and Town Election result.

Ms. Craven indicated that any changes in the scope and/or cost of the current "as MSBA approved" project + scope would need to be revisited by the SBC, project architects and MSBA before a new path forward could be determined and that might take some time. With the current backlog of projects that might not be accomplished before the end of 2010.

However, the door was left open for an alternative project scope in the event of a failed vote at town meeting or on election day. Ms. Craven stated at least 4-5 times during her comments that "there is no line" and that the MSBA recognizes Longmeadow's urgent need for a new/renovated high school and would be willing to discuss potential options with Longmeadow.

Below are some short video excerpts of Ms. Craven's comments and answers to specific questions (provided by LCTV).

To view the entire SBC public forum, click the links below:


Elizabeth Baron said...

Mr. Moran-

We were at the same forum and you have captured the key points in Ms. Craven's presentation. However, I am unable to understand how you are still missing the point that many others heard so clearly. Your interpretation is unique and quite frankly incorrect, but you are entitled to your opinion. I do believe it's in poor judgement for you to post such a clear misconception of the facts on our town website, but your videoclips posted actually don't support your own theories.

Your statement that Ms. Craven would not want to saboutage the town meeting or election implies Ms.Craven has a direct interest in Longmeadow's project. You conveniently chose to not include the fact that Ms. Craven told us all she wasn't there to sell us the project-she is an "agnostic fact-teller" reporting on why the MSBA supports a project in our town. WE invited her to be there, she doesn't need to visit towns to force a project on anyone. The MSBA chose to work with us first after the moratorium on building projects ended because our school had such "obvious structural failure".

Ms. Craven went on to CLEARLY articulate that changes to project, scope and budget at this point in time are unaccetable to the MSBA. The project we vote on is the project they support and wish to see at the end of the day-the project they have all been working on for the last three years. The only thing we agree on is that there is no MSBA line, however, you have neglected to inform your blog readers that the $34 guaranteed to us by the MSBA would go back into the competitive pool for other communities to commit to financially. The data you fail to provide is that there are currently about 150 other projects awaiting funding, and 500 statements of interests currently submitted.
You seem to be misunderstanding that any delay in approval of this current project will add additional costs and delays to the project-something the MSBA does not support. They have done due dilligence on this and are looking to get the project out to bid soon based on the pricing they did for the current budget. This allows us to take advantage of currently favorable bonding rates and construction costs. I would hope you continue contacting the MSBA to seek answers to your questions because it appears you are still confused on some matters, even after attending this week's forum.

Elizabeth Baron

Jim Moran, LongmeadowBiz said...

Ms. Baron...

A clarification....

The LongmeadowBuzz blog is not supported financially or in any other manner by the town of Longmeadow and all opinions are strictly those of the listed authors and do not represent official town policy. While there may be a link from the town website to the Buzz blog, it is not "on the town website".

Regarding my latest post...

I don't think that my interpretation of Ms. Craven's comments is as unique or as erroneous as you suggest in your comments but as you said "you are entitled to your opinion".