NORTH HAVEN — A special meeting on the Middle School Building Committee finances ended on Monday, Dec. 11 after two and a half hours with only a little bit of yelling.
The Board of Selectmen, members of the Board of Education and Middle School Building Committee held a joint meeting with Charles Warrington from Colliers, the owner’s representative managing firm. The committee and the owner’s representative manage payments, in cooperation with the town attorney.
The Board of Selectmen agreed to the special meeting at the Nov. 2 regular meeting after Alicia Clapp, a retired teacher and former Board of Education member, submitted a petition with 21 signatures requesting information on individual expenditures within the middle school building budget.
Many of the questions related to the athletic field and the state of the running track. As the hours wore on, tempers rose over whether the meeting should have been held at all.
“Shut up,” one spectator shouted to the dissenter at the microphone.
“No, you shut up,” the man shouted back.
A presentation by Gary Johns, Middle School Building Committee chairman, included information on educational specifications and the project budget. Johns presented the initial budget, construction and project costs to date and information on change orders.
Budget matters were approved by a finance subcommittee of the Middle School Building Committee.
People who attended said their questions were at least acknowledged if not answered.
Jennie Caldwell, a former BOE member, said she went in wanting to know exactly how the money was spent and what was left.
“I’ve been asking for well over a year for the original budget versus what the costs turned out to be,” she said.
Caldwell also wanted to know what things on the contingency list were purchased and what things were still waiting to be decided upon.
“I did want to know what was sacrificed in order to have synthetic turf fields as opposed to grass fields,” she said.
Danielle Morfi voiced her concerns about sports teams, outside of school and town-sponsored teams, that will have access to the athletic field.
“My children will never play on these fields” due to the synthetic turf, she said, “but now I will have to pay taxes” on the field.
The middle school renovate-to-new project finished three years ago. The referendum passed with 75 percent in favor the $69 million project, with about 36 percent state reimbursement.
The remaining project balance is $191,780, according to information presented by Johns. That balance will grow as small line items are wrapped up, Johns said, and addressing the state of the track is the “top priority” with leftover funds.
The building project is due to be finalized sometime in the spring, possibly by March, Johns said, at which time the Middle School Building Committee will dissolve. The debt service is on a 20-year repayment schedule.