Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Response to "Some additional info"

The previous post is a bit disturbing. Although is identified as helpful information for folks considering Mark Gold's position, you have also included some out of context statements from "the review of the current LHS facility" that could be interpreted as an effort on your part to help rehabilitate Mr. Gold's thoroughly discredited arguments, which he has back peddled away from with each succeeding iteration of his position.

If your aim was to prop up Gold's claim that we could save money on this part of the project, then you are helping to misinform the public. Gold's claims would be debatable, if discussed in a vacuum, but given the fiscal and technical specifics of our present situation, they serve only to false suggest that the proposed option could still be modified without cost increases that far outweigh the "potential" savings he "hopes" for.

Mr. Gold's claims about the MSBA procedures have been refuted by several more well informed sources and will again be refuted by Katherine Craven of the MSBA on May 19th when she speaks here in Longmeadow.

Gold writes, "There remains, however, opportunity to adjust the project scope and to control costs for the $9.4 million portion of the project related to renovations for School Administration offices, the pool, and LCTV without putting the state grant money at risk." THIS CLAIM IS COMPLETELY FALSE, and reflects Mr. Gold's failure to consult with knowledgeable officials about the process or to follow it closely himself.

Obviously, Gold is in a difficult political position. He has endeared himself to the "no" constituency and has tried to legitimate their position, to no avail. While Mr. Gold and Mr. Nolet and Mr. Wojcik and Mr. Fregeau have every right to oppose the project, they don't have the right to make up their own facts. Nor should voters be encouraged to entertain their post hoc speculation about matters fully discussed, debated and rejected during the lengthy process to date.

The MSBA will not provide any funding for a high school project in the coming year if the present proposal is defeated. There is absolutely no guarantee that they will fund an alternative proposal next year either, and both the costs and favorable bond market will be less favorable.

Mr. Gold wants to save us money and prevent us from failing to fund other needs in the near future, both reasonable goals, but his proposal will simply cost us more for less in both the short and long run.

Finally, and possibly most disturbingly, Gold indicates a desire to "balance of our school and town services," which given his argument on this project is more than just a handy expression. Schools ARE town services! Gold's most visible supporters have endeavored for years to divide the town between pro and anti school "interests," apparently without any appreciation of the consequences of a "house divided."

The present project is in the interests of THE ENTIRE TOWN! Ironically, even the anti-school crowd in town, that is presently trying to frighten seniors and library patrons into voting no, will reap financial benefits from the new high school project, despite their objections and obstructions.


Jim Moran, LongmeadowBiz said...

Jerold…. I don’t think that you fully understand the possible “reality” of Mark Gold’s position… he has stated that he would support the current school building project if the scope of the “unreimbursed” non-MSBA funded project costs were significantly reduced. This means doing less with the 1971 building wing and phasing in additional capital improvements over a longer period of time. He believes that the SBC has overreached and that without changes the ballot question will be defeated.

Mr. Gold’s position is certainly not directly aligned with the Vote NO or Citizens for a Better Longmeadow constituency since they offer no realistic solution to the infrastructure issues at LHS.

The savings from a reduced project scope combined with the potential of significant construction cost savings as demonstrated recently with the new Putnam Vocational Technical High School project and other Springfield building projects (~ 10-25%- see 4/29/10 Springfield Republican) might save the town up to $10 million- capital funds that could be used for a new DPW facility, upgrading Glenbrook and Williams middle schools and other much needed projects.

I submitted the following question to the SBC that I would like answered by Katherine Craven when she attends the Public Forum on May 19:

“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?”

I understand from a knowledgeable source that the reason that the questions need to be submitted in advance is that Ms. Craven will not be answering direct questions from forum participants but will try to address questions/ concerns in a speech to the public forum. I hope she addresses my question directly.

As you can easily see from the intensity of the debate, there are many town residents who support this project and many who question its wisdom. Results at the Special Town Meeting on May 25 and the Ballot Question on June 8 will obviously determine the future of the LHS school project.

Elizabeth Baron said...


I have read three different position papers from Mark Gold since April of this year and what remains clear to me in all three is that Mr. Gold still has no clear understanding of the MSBA process.

I do hope your question is answered at the forum so that you and other residents understand that the project, scope, and budget voted on by the MSBA March 31st is the project we are seeking funding for from the MSBA. Major alterations to the 71 wing are too late to be considered at this time-there was ample time for Mr.Gold and all the residents to weigh in on this last year. The MSBA will possibly let us resubmit a statement of interest for a variation of the project, but there is no guarantee of acceptance with the 200 projects they have waiting to be funded, let's remember ours was accepted 3 years ago-so you are looking at waiting at least that time to be considered-current MSBA estimates are 5-10 years. That's what people mean when they say we would go to the back of the line. There is nothing behind door #2 here unless Longmeadow wants to continue throwing taxpayers money into the money pit that is LHS.
The state grant of $34 million for this project is off the table after June 8th-why do we feel Longmeadow is in any special position to bargain with the MSBA? They are quite clear that they are willing to work with towns ready to financially committ to these projects-I hope the residents will continue to educate themselves (Mr. Gold included) about the project AND the process.

Elizabeth Baron

Jerold Duquette said...


Your question to Ms. Craven is a darn good one and I hope Mark listens carefully to her answer.

I have every iteration of Mark's position. He unequivically indicated his support for a "NO" vote in the first two.

His latest position indicating that "he would support the current school building project if the scope of the “unreimbursed” non-MSBA funded project costs were significantly reduced" CANNOT be considered, regardless of the merits, prior to the acceptance of the proposed project by the voters.

There simply is no "maybe" position. Mark's support for the project cannot be bargained for. The fact that his suggested modifications would only result in extremely nominal savings to the taxpayer's annual bill should also make it clear that he is making a mountain out of a mole hill. He appears to be saying we can "maybe" save a couple of million on the $9.4 million part of a $78 million project.

Since several of his assumptions about this element of the project have already been exposed as completely wrong, it seems unlikely that his analysis is reasonable. Why he didn't cooperate more with the SBC, whose efforts he has badly mischaracterized, is unclear, but raising issues already considered by a wide array of more qualified persons at the 11th hour doesn't help and does empower the lunitics with "reasonable" sounding claims.

I certainly don't blame Mark for wanting to distance himself from the lunitic fringe, and frankly, I have never doubted his sincerity about his motives/goals, but at this point it should be clear to anyone looking rationally at this issue that this town needs to unite in support of this project and reject the divisiveness of its loudest opponents.

Those considering voting no because of the cost, simply must realize that a NO vote RAISES the costs to the taxpayers of Longmeadow over the short and long run.

Were I Mark, I would immediately and very publicly come out in favor of the YES vote, while explaining that his ideas may be feasible during the next phase of the project and may allow us to bring the project in under budget.