To the editor:

Full disclosure: I write in favor of continued operation of the Westport Community Gardens in their present location and configuration.

Having said that, and without regard for the ultimate outcome, I am concerned about the process by which the Long Lots school project has been handled.

I start with the understanding that this is a Board of Education project which was initiated and is governed by the April 21, 2023, document entitled, “Elementary Education Specifications for Long Lots Elementary School and Stepping Stones Preschool.”  

That document states the conclusion of multiple studies that “a Renovate Like New … would not be cost effective or practical compared to construction as new on the existing site.” 

Nevertheless, the Long Lots School Building Committee was charged by the first selectwoman with providing “feasibility studies for both a new build and renovate…,” thereby contradicting the conclusion reached by the BOE and authorizing unnecessary duplication of multiple studies upon which it relied, without explanation or justification.  

One cannot help but wonder what is going on here: Why was the project effectively taken out of the hands of the BOE? And why did the BOE not object to being overruled and contradicted?

Even more troubling is the fact that once it became apparent that the options being considered by the building committee threaten the continued existence of the gardens in their present location and configuration, the committee did not invite the gardeners to participate in the planning process nor engage with them in a good faith effort to find a compromise which would not require elimination of the gardens.

This is a town of neighbors and neighborhoods. We all want the same things for our children. 

Why then have we created and why should we tolerate a situation manufactured out of whole cloth which pits those who have worked for years on an unfunded citizens’ initiative against a town administration which has acted in such a manner as to take the matter out of the hands of an elected BOE and turn it over to an appointed committee? 

And why in the world does the BOE tolerate such an infringement upon its legitimate authority and the carefully drawn conclusions of its April 21, 2023, document?

We should all be asking and demanding answers to these questions.

Larry Weisman