Letter: Baldwin Administration left legacy of expensive messes

Editor's Note: This commentary is in response to former First Selectman Ray Baldwin's letter to residents.

As a resident affected by the pending sewer assessment in North Nichols and as a member of the Board of Finance, I feel an obligation to respond to the letter from former First Selectman Raymond G. Baldwin.

In his letter, Mr. Baldwin claims First Selectman Herbst is trying to embarrass him simply by pointing out the shortcomings of the ongoing sewer construction. Mr. Baldwin, you embarrassed yourself when your administration decided to ram the North Nichols Sewer Project through six weeks before you were voted out of office. You did so knowing there were major problems with the previous contract. You ignored the residents and did what you wanted. You rewarded a contractor and ignored the people.

In 2002, the Baldwin administration told residents of North Nichols their sewer assessments would be $16,000-$18,000. At no time did your administration disclose factors which might cause an increase in cost, including the rising cost of fuel and asphalt.

In April and May of 2009, residents of the Jog Hill section of town attended public hearings to voice their displeasure with costly sewer assessments. You and I were at those public hearings and heard the concerns.

Your Public Works Director, John DelVecchio and the Sewer Administrator, Joe Solemene, advised you not to proceed with the sewer construction in North Nichols given the problems in Jog Hill. Rather than take their advice, in September of 2009, your administration sought a $27 million bond authorization for the current sewer project in North Nichols.

This bond authorization would have represented an average sewer assessment of $23,000-$25,000; higher than what your administration originally told the residents in 2002. Before your administration even put a shovel in the ground, you knew these assessments would be significantly higher than originally represented.

Rather than hold another public hearing to tell us that, your administration rammed this bond authorization through and signed the contract before you left office and construction began before the bond authorization was even passed!

These are not accusations. These are facts that are documented in meeting minutes and correspondence and have been confirmed by current and former town employees.

While Mr. Baldwin has "moved on with [his] life" the residents of North Nichols are now on the receiving end of his poor decisions. These residents, me included, now have to pay very high sewer assessments at a time when we can least afford it, while many struggle to find work and meet their mortgage and at a time when the cost of living has increased.

For the last three years, whether it is this sewer project or the high school renovation, the town continues to deal with the effects of Mr. Baldwin's decision making.

So if you're feeling embarrassed, you should. Embarrassed and ashamed; the legacy you left is nothing less than a collection of expensive messes.