During a Board of Finance meeting held on June 20, Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Richard Zini took exception to hearing that his commission's requirements added significant costs to the $4.1 million police station building project. In his public statement to the board, he defended his commission, making disparaging remarks toward the project architect, Brian Humes, in the process. Humes listened to an audio transcript of Zini's comments in a July 10 (The video is included with this story.), and defended himself in a letter he submitted to the building committee.
Humes' entire letter is published at the end of this article.
of the P&Z Commission last Thursday, but J.P. Sredzinski, who is the chairman of the police station building committee and a fellow Republican, said he does not believe the controversy had anything to do with Zini's decision to step down.
Patch had asked Zini what spurred his decision, but he politely declined to comment.
On Tuesday night, the police station building committee voted to allow Sredzinski to write a letter to the Board of Finance responding to Zini's comments, rather than entering Humes' letter into the board's record. Sredzinski chalked up Zini's statements to "misinformation" and "miscommunication" and expressed a desire to move forward.
At the Board of Finance meeting immediately following the June 20 meeting, Sredzinski, Police Chief John Salvatore, Capt. Michael Flick and Zini were present, but the issues previously raised by Zini were not brought up. Then the Patch article came out. Sredzinski said that is why the building committee is responding now in a letter.
"I think it's best to move on," Sredzinski said Tuesday. "Although it's been a trying process, I want to thank Rick and his staff for getting things done for the project."
Several people attending Tuesday's building committee meeting thought it was important to show its faith in Humes.
Salvatore said, "To be fair, I think this committee owes some kind of comment in support of our architect. This is a professional we supported for years. We owe it to him as a town."
Sredzinski said, "We're thankful and appreciative. I know no one on this committee had a problem with Brian or the work he's done. He's been moving things forward."
Some ill feelings over Zini's comments to the Board of Finance still linger for some building committee members.
Gary Scrofani, a committee member, said, "There were things said at a public meeting with the press there that showed Brian, the chief and the captain — and us, in a bad light. I think we need to address it, because it was made public. If this is the only forum, shame on us."
A General Statement
Sredzinski said he did not want to send a copy of Humes' letter to the Board of Finance. "If we send this to the Board of Finance, I don't want to start a fight," he said.
Ronald Villani, vice-chairman of the committee, said, "I don't think we started a fight. I think someone else started a fight."
Sredzinski said, "I think we should say, 'Something happened at a meeting, here is our response.'"
Elizabeth Edgerton, a committee member, said she was "on the fence" over what good would come from sending Brian Humes' letter to the Board of Finance.
David York, a committee member, suggested sending a generic statement.
Sredzinski said, "I want to respond in a collegial way."
Villani said, "It should include our confidence in Brian. Through this nonsense he has always been prepared with the facts, usually with more detail than we asked for. We would be remiss in not expressing confidence in his professionalism."
Moments before the unanimous vote allowing Sredzinski to write a generic response letter to the Board of Finance, Villani said, "As far as we're concerned, it's over and done with, and we have to get the project done on time and under budget."
The following is Brian Humes, an architect with Jacunski Humes Architects, letter written to Sredzinski on July 11, and copied to First Selectman Steve Vavrek and Salvatore.
Dear Chairman Sredzinski:
It has been brought to my attention through the attached Monroe Patch website article that Mr. Richard A. Zini Jr., Chairman, Planning & Zoning Commission, attended a recent Board of Finance meeting related to the above referenced project. I would not normally be responding to you regarding a media produced piece, but this report also includes a video transcript of Mr. Zini's actual statements.
The topic of discussion at the Board of Finance meeting pertained to seeking additional project funding to complete site work related to conditions of the Planning & Zoning Commission's approval. Most disturbing to me are the inaccurate and slanderous comments attributable to Mr. Zini related to the professional services of this office and our consultants.
Specifically, Mr. Zini's contention that:
1. "The P&Z requirements are not $100,000, I know it's less because I know what's required by P&Z. It's not 100,000 in site work".
False. All work outlined within the contract documents, Alternate No. 1, were attributable to the approval conditions of P&Z and the Town Engineer. These documents were competitively bid to the General Contractors with 27 responses ranging from $135,000 to $241,000. Pricing from Dolphin Construction as submitted at the time of the bidding was $230,000. Following the contract award, the scope and costs were negotiated and reduced to $198,000.
2. "It was estimated by the town engineer to be between $25,000 and $30,000."
At no time during our discussions with the Town Engineer or Planning & Zoning was an estimated cost of improvements shared with this office or our consultants. Conditions of approval from Planning & Zoning did not stipulate a monetary limit, only scope related items that must be met for their approvals. There was never any attempt to inflate scope to negatively impact costs.
3. "There are additional things that the police department wanted that involved their logistics."
False. As stated above, the scope of Alternate 1 only related to P&Z/Town Engineer conditions of approval and did not increase the scope due to additional logistical concerns of the police department. All additional scope was outlined for the Building Committee so that you could make an informed decision. This scope of work was beyond the original scope of our contract and we did outline additional service fees associated with this design work.
4. "I would question the architect, how well a job he did that we're going to have $300,000 in change orders".
As Mr. Zini further states that he is a practicing architect, he should be well aware that prudent planning would incorporate a contingency fund for unforeseen conditions throughout the construction process. At this stage of project development, it remains prudent to preserve available contingency funds for a necessary reserve. At no time have I expressed to the Owner that this project will include $300,000 in change orders. In fact, we will work diligently with the Owner to maintain contingency funds for your determination.
5. "I challenge your architect to come up with a number proving it's a $100,000".
As stated above, the Town of Monroe received twenty-seven (27) competitive bids related to this additional scope of work. This should be proof enough.
6. "We told the chief, we told Captain Flick, we told the architect and we told this board and the Town Council that those changes were estimated by the town engineer to be between 20,000 or 30,000." "I went to a building committee meeting and said that if your engineer, meaning the engineer who was hired by the architect in the project, feels the number is different, you better speak up"
I have attended all of the meetings of the Building Committee. I have no recollection or written documentation of Town Engineer's estimates. I have no recollection of the directive expresses above by Mr. Zini at a Building Committee meeting. In fact, Mr. Zini appears to imply that the P&Z conditions of approval could have been altered based on their monetary value. In our discussions with the Town Engineer, this was also not conveyed.
7. "Their engineer actually made a mistake on the calculations and our town engineer asked him to correct them and coincide with the town engineer to see if they were in alignment."
During our civil engineer's review of the request for on-site storm water detention by the Town Engineer, we did submit drainage calculations to support our design. The software program that our civil engineer utilizes is slightly different than software utilized by the Town of Monroe. To reconcile some minor discrepancies between software programs, our civil engineer agreed to utilize the Town of Monroe drainage data in lieu of those submitted. This slightly altered our submission and was done to satisfy the town's review and approval process. To imply that a "mistake" was made that impacted the project scope or cost is inaccurate and malicious.
8. "The police station better start saying what they're doing clearly on the record, because as a taxpayer I think it's ridiculous".
This is disturbing on many levels. As a representative of this project during public presentations, this implies that facts have been misconstrued or misrepresented. The reason for my response to Mr. Zini's accusations is the main reason that I feel impelled to state for your committee my recollections clearly for the record. For a town board chairman that has been involved with the approval process for this project to imply impropriety is unfortunate and upsetting.
9. "The project's 10 years old and never went to Planning & Zoning. I would think the consultant, the architect we're paying a small fortune to, would know that, that the project at some point should have gone through town zoning".
Where do I start? First, this project was fully funded at the schematic design stage of development. This project has been a topic of conversation throughout the Town of Monroe for many years spanning differing staff members, revised budgets, and project scope. The Town of Monroe clearly chose the direction it was intending to take based upon the funding that was appropriated and the scope that was conveyed. Mr. Zini should be clearly aware that the Planning & Zoning approvals are only possible once final design documents and engineering data are available for their review. I contend that the process was not flawed. For Mr. Zini, a practicing architect as he states, to go on to imply that our professional fees are excessive for this project is stunning. Our fees remain below industry standards for this project scope. It is my hope that you feel that you are getting quality services for the fees extended and work produced.
It is most unfortunate that Mr. Zini's statements in front of members of the Board of Finance appear to have shed such a negative perception of the project and our actions. His motivations for his actions remain unclear. I trust that I have clarified our position related to this matter and will remain committed to serving the Town of Monroe in a professional manner.
If you have any questions regarding this matter, or require additional clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Very Truly Yours,
Brian W. Humes, AIA