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Thursday, September 4, 2008

09/04/08 Greenwich Post News Lnks For Thursday

Jonathan Asch is the town's new harbormaster.

(Ken Borsuk Photo)

The search for a new town harbormaster is over now that Gov. M. Jodi Rell has signed off on the appointment of Jonathan Asch to the position.

The Nathaniel Witherell will have some extra money this year to go ahead with plans for a garden to benefit residents suffering from dementia, but the town’s Housing Authority received an $80,000 cut.

The fiscal year is a little more than two months old, but preparations for the 2009-10 municipal budget are already in being made, and First Selectman Peter Tesei indicated last week that some belt tightening is on the horizon.

“Leading into this budget it would not be wise to ignore the current fiscal conditions,” Mr. Tesei said. “We begin this fiscal year with little or no contingency due to reduced revenues.”

Mr. Tesei said there are $2.4 million in interim requests in the 2007-08 fiscal year, including more than $1 million for outside legal fees and $500,000 to remediate the mold at the town’s modular classrooms, which shrank the town’s contingency. He added there is also higher than expected utility costs and an anticipated revenue shortfall due to less interest income brought in by town revenue and due to a settlement on property taxes for the town’s golf course, where it was determined the town asked for too much money.

Those are just three parts of it and there are probably other factors that are impacting the current year’s budget,” Mr. Tesei said last week. “I intend to take measures with the town departments and strongly recommend that the Board of Education contain expenditures wherever possible in their operating budgets.”


How is the BET going to contain Frank Mazza's current $500.000 and Betty Sternberg's soon to come additional $500,000 request for busing and moving students in and out of the modulars. Plus there is the up coming teacher's contract.

Problems are persisting in the construction of a new Hamilton Avenue School, leaving the date for an opening still in flux.

While the Board of Education had hoped the oft-delayed construction would be ready in time for the start of school on Aug. 27, more than a year behind schedule, that date came and went without the town’s Building Department signing off on the structure, which is still not able to pass all its inspections. With parents continuing to be uneasy about sending their kids to temporary classrooms where mold was discovered last March, board members said last week at the first meeting of the new school year they are hopeful for a resolution within the next few weeks.

Michael Bodson, a Board of Education member and a member of the project’s building committee, said the goal is to get a temporary certificate of occupancy by the town’s building department “around Sept. 10” so the move from the modulars to the new building may be completed by Columbus Day in October.....

...the ventilation system. He said it is “not providing adequate air flow throughout the building” and the building committee is not sure why that is. Mr. Bodson said the contractor, Worth Construction, has to look at air handling units, examine whether there is blockage and whether there are leaks.

This is the most critical issue left to be resolved,” Mr. Bodson said.

Other issues include surface cracking in the school’s garage. The cracks are not considered a structural issue and Mr. Bodson said there is a dispute between the committee and Worth about “who is responsible for it.” The committee is looking at bringing in a third party company to make the repairs....

...Superintendent of Schools Betty Sternberg said Aug. 28 that Hamilton Avenue parents looking to opt their children out of the modulars would have that opportunity. She also said the children who do opt out would be able to enter the new Hamilton Avenue School as soon as it opens. Any transfer of students from the modulars to another school in the district would depend on the space available in classes there.....

The Board of Education was briefed last Thursday about a tentative agreement between the board and the district’s public school teachers on a new contract and a vote is expected in early October.

Terms of the deal have not been released publicly, but it is expected that both sides will sign off on it.

Board member Steven Anderson, chairman of the board’s negotiations committee, said the agreement was fashioned after a marathon mediation session last month that went to 1 a.m. While the agreement is not finalized and still must be approved by both sides, Mr. Anderson expressed optimism that it soon would be. However, there is still a complicated town approval process forcing the decision to be postponed until next month.

Once the agreement is approved by the Board of Education, the town has 30 days to approve it, reject it or do nothing. If no action is taken by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) within those 30 days, the agreement will automatically pass, but Mr. Anderson said it is preferable that the RTM have its say.

We think it’s important for the checks and balances in town government for the town to have a voice in this,” Mr. Anderson said.

...Due to laws mandating action if progress hadn’t been reached by a specific time in the negotiations, an independent mediator was brought in and helped hammer out the tentative agreement. Mr. Anderson said that he was pleased with the final results.

“We heard what they had to say and they heard what we had to say,” Mr. Anderson said. “We put everything together and we got it done.”

On Thursday night, GEA President Cathy Delehanty said she couldn’t comment on the tentative agreement until it is ratified by the members. She expected a vote to happen within the coming weeks.

The following are Sept. 4’s released arrests:


Debra Elgert, 53, of 237 Hamilton Ave. was arrested Sept. 3 and charged with interfering with an officer and disorderly conduct. Police responded to a report of a woman acting in a disorderly manner and found Elgert at the scene acting combative, disruptive and belligerent towards the responding officers and another woman who lives in the same building. Elgert was released on a promise to appear and was due in court Sept. 4.


A 31-year-old Bronx, N.Y. man was arrested Sept. 3 and charged with first degree criminal trespass and third degree stalking. A suspicious person and vehicle had reportedly seen outside a closed gate on private property. The man was found at the scene after having been told by the resident’s business manager, on that resident’s behalf, not to have any contact with the person. The man was released on a $5,000 cash bond and is due in court Sept. 10.


Robert Bernstein, 51, of Rye Brook, N.Y. was arrested Sept. 3 and charged with issuing bad checks, fraudulent use of an ATM and fourth degree larceny. Bernstein reportedly turned himself in on an outstanding warrant that stemmed from him allegedly opening an account at a local bank and withdrawing funds using bad checks. Bernstein was released on a $500 cash bond and is due in court Sept. 10.


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