Thoughts on the Kearns School proposal

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The proposal by the Kearns School Committee, led by Elliot Altomare, is an altruistic objective; however, it must make dollars and cents for the Town of Granby, its citizens and its relative economic health.

While a non-binding letter of intent is being drafted, there are several points to be considered. These are not all relative factors and can be expanded upon as deliberation occurs. However, they are strategic and factual initial concerns that should serve as a template for such projects and be included in a marketing plan that I have strongly advocated. If it were done, the need to reinvent the wheel would be unnecessary each time a proposition such as this is considered.

Realistic timeline: To include completion of architectural drawings; P&Z, Building Dept. and state approvals with particular attention to asbestos, as well as assurance for confirmation of the foundation’s 501(c)3 status. With the existing government shutdown, the timeframe is unknown.

Fundraising/Financial Sustainment: Large grant donations are often specific in purpose, limiting utilization diversity, are non-renewable and may include continual oversight/reporting parameters (eg. the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving). With the goal of generating $2.7 million in donations to complete re-construction and cover initial operating costs, it would be appropriate to provide as soon as possible what, by whom and when the financial contributions would be available.

The feasibility of the State of Connecticut being a contributor via bonding is questionable given its perilous fiscal status acknowledged by newly elected Governor Lamont. This also has a ripple effect even if approved, because the impact would reverberate on the backs of Connecticut taxpayers and we need to heed the vulnerability of Granby’s own fragile bottom line in this mix and the consequences to our mill rate.

Regarding expected cash flow from fees and services to be charged, there is considerable emotional and enthusiastic vocal support for a broad spectrum of services proposed for this community center. This would necessitate sufficient staffing, requisite insurance coverage, general overhead costs etc., which requires a substantiation of anticipated revenue from membership fees and any income sources other than donations.

The Kearns School Steering Committee’s current plan proposes that the town would receive a lease payment of $1 annually with maintenance costs to be absorbed by the lessee ($30-$50K per year). This is assumed to be the facility’s responsibility as part of their overhead costs, and thus no new news.

Even with the suggested income forfeiture, ownership would remain with the town, which would expose it to potential litigation for lawsuits from a multitude of age ranges, workshops, physical activities and users in and out of town. The broader “risk management” exposure could result in higher insurance costs to the town.

If the contract is for 10 years as currently stipulated, and the lease/contract is not renewed, does the facility (with all improvements/upgrades/increased property value) revert back to the town or would the initial donators to the non-profit question this outcome and pursue financial refunds?

Summary: Given the above, I have submitted a Plan B proposal to the town administration that would address many of these concerns, provide the parties mutual equitability, optimize fundraising resources and potentially alleviate long-term contract constraints by either party. Bringing this Plan B to the Kearns School Study Committee and the general public is respectfully advisable. Consideration of Plan B would potentially provide more dollars and make greater “sense” for Granby’s economic management and fiscal future.

Patricelli-Regan is founder and Executive Director of The Sylvia Davis Patricelli Fine Arts Scholarship Foundation, President of the Foxfield F.A.R.M. (For A Recovery Mission) Foundation, Host of CT Valley Views TV program and former Vice President of Trade and Community Relations for DIAGEO, N.A. Head Quarters. She and her husband, William J. Regan have been residents of Granby for 16 years.