Letter to the Editor: Hen house attracts clever foxes

Dear Editor:

An engineering firm and common sense has determined our new Meeker elementary school to be “unsafe” for our children and teachers. The taxpayer now has an $18,000,000 white elephant. How can any human being be safe in a new building with unstable walls/roof? There are two types of buildings that require over-engineering: schools and hospitals. How do these shocking events occur today?A big hen house will attract a host of clever foxes. It is easy for a small, trusting community to come up short on large, funded projects. A cloud of denials is expected to settle onto our Sulphur Creek hillside. You will find Mr. Duck and Mr. Dodge and Ms. Finger-pointing wandering around. What the taxpayer longs to hear are the words: “A series of mistakes were made by everyone.  I am responsible. The party/honeymoon is over. The money is gone.” But genuine, strong leadership is a scarce commodity in the public sector.We need an independent public review and forensic audit of this fiscal event. If typical building laws, regulations, standards, public construction bidding processes or codes were ignored, the taxpayer has a right to know. If there was shoddy design, work or materials, or if we were just asleep at the wheel the taxpayer has a right to know. In the end, if this hillside cannot support a heavy building, then the taxpayer has to accept: “We were wrong about the soils conditions — let’s find another site.” We can expect the same engineers who got us into this mess to recommend a series of reengineering/patchwork plans that purport to fix parts of the building. Structural issues on a large commercial building are a bottomless/pointless money pit. Even the Italian engineers had to admit that one cannot fix the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” (A bell tower constructed in 1370 that leans because its foundation lies on unstable subsoil made up of a combination of sand, clay and water.)Meeker taxpayers should not accept Denver-based lawyers fashioning some compromise behind closed doors or to have a deal forged by power figures in some executive (secret) session. This building is not a total loss. Just as the Italians would not operate an elementary school or hospital in its leaning tower, we should not educate our smallest children in our sinking building. It could become the new administration building or some new use. Let’s find our backbone, lick our wounds and move on. We need to choose a better place, a better builder, better oversight and more competence. Let’s get back to the focus of finding a safe building site to operate a school. Once again, taxpayers have been led down the wrong path. Does everyone remember how much time was spent telling us how expensive it was going to be to fix up the old elementary school? Let’s revisit the old elementary school site or find another site and build a new school that will not fall apart because of ground conditions. Let’s rebuild with a simpler design based upon less cost and more common sense. Our school board and a host of overpaid experts (who forgot to open their elementary school history books on Italian landmarks) have earned a thumbs’ down! Joe FennessyMeeker