The Cheshire Town Council this week accomplished what it couldn't last month: it approved sending the Cheshire High School locker room renovation to the Public Building Commission.
But that approval came only after much back and forth over why the project has taken so long to come to fruition and an angry outburst from the Cheshire Board of Education chairman over one council member's comments.
As expected, the board's three Democratic members — Peter Talbot, Michael Ecke and Patti Flynn Harris — voted against the $550,000 renovation project, with the rest of the board, all Republicans, supporting it.
"I feel this is a band-aid," Talbot said before the vote. "We are not looking at a long-term solution to the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] code issues."
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But the town just can't afford the price tag attached to the Public Building Commission-endorsed field house construction projects, other council members said. And having the Cheshire High School lockers in a separate location from the main building is problematic, one council member said.
"We are not kicking the can down the road," Councilman David Schrumm said. "We will get it all done, and the other components will be taken up in the capital budget process, which is the appropriate time to take it up."
It should be up to residents to decide in a referendum whether they want to spend the extra cash on a field house, Talbot said. The project has been in the works for too long as it is, he said. The money was originally allocated for the project in 2009.
Schrumm then pointed out that Talbot was a member of the school board at that time, indicating that he felt the Board of Education was responsible for the delay.
Board of Education Chairman Gerry Brittingham took issue with Schrumm's remarks.
"You have wondered what the board has been doing and we have reminded you privately but you are very insistent on repeating things you know are not correct," Birttingham said, calling him "a liar."
Despite the exchange, the outcome of the vote was never in question and fell along party lines. The issue was on the council's agenda last month but because several council members were absent, the vote failed to pass because there weren't the required number of votes.
Work will start on the project this summer but it won't be ready for the fall football season, Council Chairman Tim Slocum said.
"I attended a Public Building Commission this week and we have a pretty clear understand that this will not be completed for the fall," he said. "It's too tight a window."
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