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Police Station Architect, Building Committee Respond to Zini

The building committee expresses its strong support for architect Brian Humes.

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.

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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."

Humes' Letter

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 

Gerald M. Gaynor July 25, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Mr. Humes seemed to address the "concerns" raised by Mr. Zini in a more professional and polite manner than the innuendo-riddled comments of Mr. Zini deserved.
PlumbBob July 25, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I agree. Mr. Humes' well stated and professional reply should be well accepted by our town's population. I am glad The Patch has posted it here, as Mr. Humes' facts should certainly be weighed against the claims Mr. Zini has given us. It certainly sheds some light on what's actually been going on, though the ex P&Z Chairman would like us to believe otherwise. My take on all this...just another P&Z mess the Town of Monroe has become famous for. Zini has resigned amidst all this drama....interesting. I'm sure there is a lot more to that story.
Truth and Justice July 25, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Thank you Patch for sharing this story with the people of Monroe. I'm guessing there was a lot of pressure put on you by the Republican majority to not print this story. Hats off to Mr. Hume for presenting the facts.
Ken J. July 25, 2012 at 03:50 PM
More secrete government from Sredzinski and friends. Listen to this comment about sharing information with the Board of Finance. 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. I think what he was really trying to say, is that this is going to be politically damaging so let’s keep a lid on it. After all why does he need the public learning anymore about how his committee is spending 4.2 million of tax payer dollars on this project and that they are already asking for more money. Thank you PATCH for this story and printing the letter Sredzinski didn’t even want other elected officers to see.
Gerald M. Gaynor July 25, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Neither party has a monopoly on Truth, Justice and the American Way...
Gerald M. Gaynor July 25, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I think that all elected and appointed officials in Town are quite capable of speaking for themselves and they have shown no reticence about doing so. The partisan innuendo of those who "think" or "know" what someone else was saying does nothing to advance the debate. Any complaint or allegation that could be leveled against one party can and has been leveled at the other. Let’s stick to the facts and figures.
Mansfield July 25, 2012 at 04:23 PM
@Gerald: Come on man give us a break. The Republican's control all boards and commissions in town.
Jane Terril July 25, 2012 at 04:27 PM
@Gerald M. Gaynor…Sredzinski attempted to keep information from BOF…that’s a Fact. If not for the PATCH he would have and from the people too. Why did he try that? Because he didn’t “want to start a fight” Come on, a fight with who his own party and voters. Wake up already Ken has it right.
Jane Terril July 25, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Why is Sredzinski’s committee asking for $100,000 in addition to the 4.2 million they have already received from taxpayers to renovate the police station? What has been lost in all the political berating of Mr. Zini is that he asks some very important questions. Are the additional changes required to bring this project up to code between $20-30K as Zini said was estimated by the Town Engineer or is it the $100K that the Sredzinski committee is requesting? It would be well to hear from the Town Engineer on this one. I think an important fact here is that the architect hired by the town in his letter and before P&Z admitted that his design was flawed and that the proposed changes were required to meet code and that he agreed to include them. Even if the additional costs are $100K why would they not be covered by the original 4.2 million which includes a $300K contingency for cost over runs? As I listened to the taped conversation I heard Mr. Zini bring up this point. Even though Mr. Zini has been thoroughly thrown under the bus (probably because he dared to challenge the powers to be) let us not be so quick to dismiss some the points he raised. Why request a $100K more when there is already $300K untapped in reserve for such overruns? Sounds like someone is trying to rip off the taxpaying public.
Mike Wright July 26, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Wow, Jane. First of all, Mr. Zini was not "thoroughly thrown under the bus probably because he dared to challenge the powers to be". Mr. Zini and the P & Z Commission ARE the powers that be (or was). Let's also understand what the P&Z regulations are. They are 213 pages long and only constitute a general framework of requirements for all types of development. All new construction and addition projects are required to apply to be heard by the P&Z commission so the framework of regulations can be applied to a specific project. I encourage you to go to the building department and look at the police project plans as I did. You will see within the base bid, the project engineer included a detention rainwater system under the grass to handle the stormwater runoff. P&Z required the project include a much more expensive and substantially larger retention rainwater system which, because of its substantially larger size, needs to be put under the parking lot. These revisions were shown by the architect as an alternate and was bid separately from the rest of the project. What the Town Engineer guessed at $20-30K was bid by 28 contractors at at least $143K. As a public bid job this job is required to have prevailing wage (Very expensive labor) Bottom line, The engineers designed a Chevy solution that was called for in the 4,2 mil appropriation, P&Z required a Cadillac solution and the town needs to pay the difference.
Barney July 26, 2012 at 03:30 AM
You not be making any sense with your fancy words and what not. A feller on the P&Z, soon to be chairman, be telling me about educating folks with fancy words like you be. You must be some type of liberal thinker. This be a farming community and we not be referring to fancy books and what not. This town be changing. If you not believing me you not be on the O'Hara email list. He be reminding people to vote no and he be warning you about the dangers of families and being educated. If O'Hara say we need more money to keep families and a business out of monroe then you better be believing. Vavrek know this to be true. He be thinking like natural folks. one of us. Vavrek be telling me I be right and a natural thinker. Monroe be returning to its roots. Me be a smiling and my head be bobbing up and down. Support mr. Vavrek. He understands that business not be welcome. It not be normal to want families moving into town and mr. vavrek be telling me I be right. I stand by mr. Vavrek. You should to if you be a normal thinker.
Steve Kirsch July 26, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Jane, the bonding was for $4.1 million. These additional costs are within that limit set by the voters. No additional funding is being required or requested as explained at more than one meeting that I have attended.
Grant July 26, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Attn: Steve Kirsch, taxpayer dollars are even more than 4.1 or 4.2 million because this project includes not only the borrowed money but also state funding in the form of a grant (which is also tax payer dollars). The improvements to the police station are costing just about as much as it cost to originally build the entire town hall. They are spending a boat load of money on this thing. Try listing to the BOF meeting (all you have to do is click on the graphic above), BOF is being lobbied for an additional $100,000 for this project above the untouched $300K contingency that allows for overruns. Why? That’s where this whole controversy started. Mr. Kirsch you brag a lot about attending meetings obviously you didn’t attend this one and just attending a meeting doesn’t make one an authority. If you’re going to direct comments to the public you need to be more than just a cheer leader, you need to know what you’re talking about.
Steve Kirsch July 26, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Grant, actually I was at the meeting so I heard all of the conversations regarding this issue, not just the part that is online. I was also at the Town Council where this was approved. As I understand it, the $100k is within the $4.1 million limit. It was not additional monies coming from someplace else. As to the $4.1 million, the State Grant will reduce the cost to the Town of Monroe by the value of the grant. As I understand it, the Town is required by law to have a bonding authorization for the full project value and then it gets reimbursed from the State. Maybe someone from the Board of Finance or the Town Council or the Town Finance Department would like to confirm these two specific points...
Grant July 26, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Attn: Kirsch you are wrong again and you are misleading the public. If you are attending meetings are you knitting or doing a crossword puzzle or what? Stop cheerleading and open your ears. Council may have approved the additional funds but BOF has not, at least not yet. Zini called this request for additional funding into question and so Vavrek and his cronies of which you are apparently one, threw him under the bus. If there is a $300,000 contingency for cost over runs than why the request for the additional $100,000? Why the request Kirsch? Why the need to have this matter before Council or BOF? Mr. Kirsh keep going along to get along and you will go far in Monroe. Sis-Boom-Ba
Steve Kirsch July 26, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Grant, I always find it funny when I’m personally attacked by someone who does not even have the personal integrity to use their own full name when doing so. I would like to suggest that you go to the Town’s website (http://www.monroect.org/bof-min-12.aspx) and read the minutes of the Board of Finance Special Meeting of June 26. In the minutes you will find “he [Mr. Sredzinski] reiterated the $96,800 change order was still under the original number they budgeted.” You will also find “Chairman Reed asked about using a contingency fund and Mr. Sredzinski replied that they requested the change order as it was too early in the project to know whether a contingency would be necessary for other aspects of the project at a later date and as they were under budget, the board would not be approving any additional costs to the project.” So, I was neither wrong, nor misleading to the public. Furthermore, the minutes show that a motion was made “To approve the Change Order for the Police Department Renovations” and the “Motion passed 4 (Reed, Manjos, Baudouin, Quinlan)-0 (Board Member Ownes was not present for the vote)”. It looks like you were wrong in your posting on this subject. You asked why this went to the Town Council and BOF – the answer is that any change order over a specific amount must go to those elected bodies. To call me a Steve Vavrek crony is to show that you really don’t know or understand my positions.
Get it Straight July 26, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Mr. Kirsch you tried to mislead. Bottom Line Sredzinski was requesting more money. Almost 100K more. But Mr. Kirsch said in his first post here "No additional funding is being required or requested..." Now that Mr. Kirsch has been challenged on that, he has changed his tune by quoting meeting minutes that say something very different "Chairman Reed asked about using a contingency fund and Mr. Sredzinski replied that they requested the change order as it was too early in the project to know whether a contingency would be necessary for other aspects of the project at a later date and as they were under budget, the board would not be approving any additional costs to the project.” Is that clear to you Mr. Kirsch “the board would not be approving any additional costs” Sredzinski was requesting additional money even before he touched the established over-run fund, that should tell taxpayers what Sredzinski thinks of them. It is obvious they were trying to use the required project change necessary to meet State Code Requirements as an excuse to bring more money into the project. Sredzinski and his friends tried to blame this on the P&Z commission and Mr. Zini rightfully pointed this out and so now Mr. Zini gets attacked and now he’s gone. That’s the Monroe way and people like you Mr. Kirsch that mislead others help that process along. Mr. Kirsch you have been such a vocal advocate for this project since it began that you no longer have any sense of objectivity.
Carol Timpozi July 26, 2012 at 09:25 PM
@ Kirsch If you think Sredzinski was not asking the BOF for more money then you are nuts. What do you think he was doing there? I’m sure he’ll be back and I’m sure before this thing is over that they will be way over budget.
Steve Kirsch July 26, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Carol, please define what you mean by "more money". More than what?

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