MISA’s critics offer same tired claims and we end up paying the price

Greenwich-Voices-von-KeyserlingOnce more the Greenwich High School music instructional space and auditorium project, better known as MISA, is under attack in what has become a spring tradition of the last decade.

Despite overwhelming, popular support, the paranoiac penny pinchers and the niggling nabobs of NIMBY will not take “YES” for an answer. The question of MISA funding has been asked and answered many times. The RTM has given several 2 to 1 votes supporting the project and the BET has placed it in several, consecutive Annual Budgets. Every Board of Education in the last decade has developed and recertified the project and its education specifications and the Board of Selectmen have been firm supporters.

Yet there is still a steadfast nucleus of negativity that grabs at any and every excuse to oppose the project.

They have thrown environment, neighborhood impact, noise, parking, traffic, trees and now the 1960’s polluted fill of the athletic fields. Always, their common call is not to spend taxpayer money to provide properly at the high school that which previous million dollar construction projects failed to achieve.

Ironically it was the same opposition which neutered those projects in the past and wasted millions of the taxpayer’s dollars in the process. But now here they go again.

The latest weak minded attempt to derail MISA was made recently by “Horton Hears a Who” of the Greenwich Time. He wishes to kill the MISA project ($40 million?) by suggesting that the town build a complete, new high school at Central Middle School ($100 million?) and a brand new middle school ($60 million?) somewhere else (hey, how about the power plant site?). Figure the cost benefit of that suggestion and see how it looks.

The costs of the polluted soil remediation at the Hillside Road campus must be done regardless, and has nothing to do with MISA.

The six million dollar escalation in bid prices over the appropriation estimates falls largely at the feet of the MISA opponents. Their assaults have led to several years of delays and a defensive climate. This has prevented the town from taking full advantage of a buyers market in the greatest construction climate since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  For a few years after the 2007 crash, construction firms were bidding at cost in order to keep their company and staff working. The capital market has almost been paying its clients to take loans at interest below one percent. But, now that the economy is on the rise again, so are the costs and bids.

So the naysayers have only complained and obstructed. They have yet to proffer sound alternatives or positive gains. Their sum total has been stagnation, loss, and dysfunction.

The MISA Building Committee, composed of experienced professionals, has developed an optimum design and construction plan which will produce maximum value in program and operation. Their plan is so refined and tuned that any changes or reductions will not save money and instead would render intrinsic damage to the purpose and effectiveness of MISA. This is perhaps the most engineered and financially scrutinized capital project the town of Greenwich has ever entered.

It is about time that the town resets its standard of excellence. It is about time that we get on with our work. It is way past the time for argument and fuss.

Let us not once more destroy a good project. Let us not once more have to do the Greenwich “walk of shame.” Let MISA be a beautiful crown on the proud brow of Greenwich. Let us all take a firm stand. Let us keep MISA’s integrity and ours.


Christopher von Keyserling is a Republican and a longtime member of the town’s Representative Town Meeting, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own. 

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