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The 2.72 Million dollar meeting......An indoor sporting event.

POSTED September 12, 2013
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: Who said Board of Education meetings can’t be like sports?

The energy level in the THS library was at times like that of a heated exchange between a coach and a ref that got the call wrong.

A special BOE meeting was called for Tuesday night to discuss the $2.72 million dollar grant earned for repair of the Raiders fields of play by State Representative, Michelle Cook.

Rumors, hard feelings and a general feeling of what-the-heck-are-we-fighting-over a multi-million dollar gift that will benefit the students and citizens of Torrington had been swirling for weeks around T-Town.

This meeting needed to happen. Was it a waste? Some may have thought so but it was necessary so any doubt about what happened and what will happen could be cleared up.

Communication is a critical part of any multi-layered project like the one proposed for THS which will bring a new track, a turf field and new bleachers for home and away fans.

Here’s the bottom line.

After seven years of hard work by a volunteer Turf Committee, plans are starting to take shape that will bring the changes Torrington fields need to get them up to speed.

In the grant, a new track, a new turf field and bleachers make up the bulk of the work.

Torrington’s got the money, okay not in their pocket, but it’s the City’s money to spend.

Is the Board of Ed in on the process?

Should they even care if they are?

Yes and no.

Yes, because they will be the ones who maintain the facilities. All associated costs that may affect them should be known.   

No, because if you already have a group of coaches and folks who have overseen projects just like this in the past, why would you want to muddy the waters?

And muddy the waters were for a while Tuesday night when word got back to the BOE that if school employees (coaches, teachers) continued to attend Turf Committee meetings, “repercussions” may occur.

Many a BOE member was outraged by the very thought of this higher up bullying, real or perceived.

We teach our kids that bullying is something we simply should not tolerate yet here it was, at the highest levels of the very folks charged with setting a proper example for the students at THS.

It was evident at this meeting that members of the BOE took exception to being told they were not in a position to have a say in this.

Cook told them that in her remarks that were about as forceful as you’re going to see Michelle Cook.

It seems to me that the board has far more pressing issues that directly pertain to the students and teachers at Torrington High School in the classroom.

Money is tight, budgets are being sliced and diced all the time. Could they use the $2.72? Of course, but that is not what this grant was designed to do.

Cook did offer to go to bat for the board in Hartford, that’s her job. Perhaps there is something that can be done down the line.

As Cook said, “This money was not there five years ago, but it is now.”

If the members of the BOE did not know of the work the Turf Committee had been doing over time, shame on them. Pay attention. Talk to people. Know what’s going on around you, the big picture.

I know it’s not easy and a tough job that is asked of any BOE but try and when you come across something as good as free money, embrace it wholeheartedly.

There are good people on this turf committee. Citizens of Torrington who have put in countless hours trying to improve conditions for everyone in Torrington.

They don’t get any better than the likes of Paul Denza, Paul O’Heron, Mario Longobucco, Ed Arum, Michael Fritch Sr. and Gerry Carbone, to just name a few of the players here.

It would seem to me that the BOE would be better served embracing these folks and Cook for their efforts and let them continue to do the work they have been doing for seven years.

Does every community in this area have to act in a dysfunctional way?

Cannot Torrington rise above it, put egos out to dry and celebrate the fact that we have gotten some of our own money back?

I would hope so.

This mess needs to stop here. Anyone involved from the BOE or the City simply needs to say, “How can I help?”

 Let’s get this done Torrington.

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