OK, you read the Op-Ed in the November 2020 Suffield Observer,
Thank You for taking the time to follow up and learn more…
Stop a demolition? It doesn't seem likely now, but as long as the building is still standing there's a chance that the arrival of the bulldozer could be delayed. DELAY? Yes perhaps, more on that ahead. Back in February '20 we scrambled to get votes to NOT rescind Suffield's Community Center project. – We lost by 68 votes – it was rescinded, but how did 'rescinding a YES vote' occur?
The actions that allowed this to happen were against the law in the first place. More on that ahead too…
The 2015 referendum result was approved by a 9.3% margin.after10 years of resident activism, and 3 failed proposals to finally utilize a valuable and historic town asset.
The Architecture of a "gaff"
gaff; transitive verb: To trick into believing or accepting as genuine something false.
First Selectman, Melissa Mack, and the Town Attorney, Derek Donnelly; two very cunning lawyers, engineered and carried out a 'gaff' on the residents of town.
Their agenda serves a constituency of prime Town Center District pro-development. This elite, powerful group favors commercial tax base revenue over what residents lawfully approved. They have succeeded amidst both complicity and distraction.
The electorate, project supporters, and a number of Town officials didn't see it coming, nor was it understood. In mid 2018 it became clear that it would take a civil lawsuit – residents forced into punitively suing themselves over the wrongdoing of the two top salaried Town employees, to stop it. They were right in gambling that it wouldn't come to that. Although offered full financial support to sue, the Friends of BSCC, with pause, decided against this.
Over five years their taxpayer funded salaries while perpetrating a
Section; 1983 civil rights violation here is estimated at $1m.
Following is a summary of factual events where either by maleficence or through negligence, a 'YES Community Center' – gets turned into 'YES demolition'
• Allowed 3 years of preliminary planning to proceed to the point where actually signing a contract to commit and commence the project was required.
• Delayed until near an election in which you are conveniently unchallenged.
• Set no agenda to discuss and vote as a 5 member Board. as required by law.
That sitting Board of Selectmen. (BOS) was tipped in favor of project success.
• Gave no notice to the BOS or the Board of Finance (BOF) , the Ad-hoc committee
appointed by the BOF or the public before initiating the 'power grab' gaff.
• Made fearful public proclamations that in light of a certain "State budget
crisis" "Loss of public safety services" "Cuts in education" "Layoffs" and "Job losses"
as grounds for a unilateral cancelation of the project – saying "at this time."
• Made sure not to include money in the budget to fund the preliminary work.
• Took action to acquire a bloated quote above the amount approved by voters.
• Used that high estimate to cement your argument – ignore other inline quotes.
• Contrived carefully crafted rhetoric to flip an election campaign promise; from the
Community Center being a 'need to have thing' into merely a 'want to have thing.'
• Placed the issue back into a divisive public debate process while
arranging what would only be marginal Community Center activities
scattered elsewhere in town.
• Promoted a public campaign based on personal opinions and false misleading
information that the building is hopelessly dilapidated and dangerous.
• Censored public comments made in meeting minutes calling out corruption.
• Blocked an in progress State Historic designation that could stall demolition.
• Set an agenda conveniently including the 5 member board tipped not in favor of
the project, to "approve" rescinding the 2015 resolution.
• Made sure to include money in the budget to demolish the building.
• Approved a demolition contract for the building.
• Blacked out all public information, give no "Updates," and make no announcements
because the Town is engaged celebrating a successful 350 year history.
True or False
Compare these two photographic surveys and decide what's what…
These cell phone pictures were taken by the Public Works Department under the direction of
First Selectman Mack to illustrate the actual condition of the Bridge Street School Building.
The professional photo survey was made to submit to the State Historic Preservation office.
A State historic designation for preservation grants was blocked by the office of First Selectman
© Ray Pioggia 2020 • licensed to Bridge Street Community Organization 501c3
A preservationist's view
A preservationist's view
Folks I know – myself included, who have an interest in being stewards of
landmarks, wilderness, historic buildings and places, etc., never actually set out to become preservationists, it just happens.
As a teenager, my wife would ride around town on her bicycle taking pictures of idyllic rural scenes. Some were landscapes, others were of farms and fields.
After we got together, I joined her in this pastime. As the housing development boom began to ratchet up in the mid 1980s and beyond, we realized that many of the images had historical significance. It was an unintentional act of preservation.
My wife had attended Bridge Street School, and now 25 years later, we were
enrolling our son. I was raised in a military family, and had moved from school to school – over 20 in all, and my experiences and memories of this are almost entirely miserable. I practically had a phobia of school buildings, the way some may feel toward hospitals. The charm of this small town school, bustling with youngsters was so appealing that I decided to design a documentary of it in the form of a photo essay. This just happened to coincide with the school's 75th anniversary celebrations. The resulting exhibit was released in 2005, one year
after the school's closing. This is the story of how I came to have such an interest in the site of Bridge Street School.
I am in the process of publishing this work into a words and picture book entitled "I Remember Bridge Street School."
To those who have expressed heartfelt interest and gratitude for my effort, I have to say that it will be held up a little longer – the final chapter of its story is yet to be written.
~ Ray Pioggia 2012
~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on the preservation
of Grand Central Station in New York City.
"To those of you who have mongered for the demise and destruction of this place,
with utter disregard,
and flagrant disrespect,
I say: Shame on you"
The following pictures and captions are excerpts from the forthcoming book "I Remember Bridge Street School"
"The Pledge" Every school day for 80 years the Pledge of Allegiance was recited to start the day.
"Welcome to Bridge Street School!" Colorful murals grace the walls and create a sense of being drawn into the cheerfulness they depict. Part of my project in the last week of the final school year, was having the children write letters on how they felt about being here. "I'm happy that school will be over, but I'm sad because other kids will never get to go here too."
"Among the names of those who attended school here are some that fought and died for our freedom."
~ Mrs. Neilson, School Secretary
at Bridge Street School
for 35 years.
"Flag Day" On June 14, 2004, before going home, the teachers and entire student population silently
filed out, and made their Pledge here one last time.
"Playmates" Each morning when the weather allows, the children get to play outdoors before school. Manners, respect for others, being accepting, kindness, and community spirit are emphasized by tradition. The children greet one another with a handshake in class before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
"Visiting" "The nurse's office is a safe place for comfort
or just a short break from class." Nurse Tina Lauiana said.
"Reminiscing" At the 75th anniversary celebration party held in 1999, former classmates who had attended Bridge Street School the year it opened in 1924 (pictured at right) gathered to share stories and memories several generations past. "I Remember when they took that photo – the cameraman scolded us to sit still and no smiling ... I smiled anyway!"
"The Small Schoolhouse is a representation of Americana that is sadly disappearing from our way of life. The intimate setting is very nurturing and reassuring for the children. Every child who attended here was, I would say, fortunate to benefit from this experience. It's very sad to see it transition into just a collection of memories, happy as they are. It is my greatest hope that this building and playground will be used for something deserving of what has been accomplished here over the last eighty years."
Florence Falkowski Second Grade Teacher
I consider it an honor to have been a witness and participant in the celebration of this institution. ~ RP
A newspaper article on this documentary can be viewed by clicking on the sub-menu
Exhibit-News under Documentary • Commentary above.
It was sort of symbolic to switch to Black & White after the closing, as if the cheerful color had drained out of the pictures. This collection of images was intended to be displayed as they are here. In the second photo down on the left Mrs. Falkowski gives one final summer school lesson. The second down on the right was meant to depict how the School looked through teary eyes.
"The Throw-Away Society"
Commentary by Ray Pioggia
Today American culture is in the grip of self absorption, and instant gratification. Traits that undeniably have long held back humanity as a whole from a true and lasting peace on earth, now seem more pronounced than ever. Fueled by an unrelenting, out of control, corporate media-driven machine, we appear to be ourselves, the cast of an absurd and depraved reality show of our own making – in Hi Def. It's hard to have to be saying these things as if they were actual facts. The good news comes first: as Americans we will choose to see that we are in trouble and by setting examples of ourselves, work our way out. We can, by salvaging core values of the past, and with reasoning for future stability, find solutions – cultivate a better way. Bad news travels fast – like following in the next sentence. Here goes: There isn't one average person you'll meet that can say they're happy with the way things are, and we can't instant message ourselves out of it. We are in fact so swept up in keeping pace with constant real-time decision making, in a cyclone of information overload, that our short term satisfaction seems like the right thing to go with. Everything is disposable and temporary and is only expected to last until the next faster version comes out – oh yeah, the previous one doesn't quite match with the new one so just throw it out. As humans we adapt – a good thing right? Being forced to adapt in a hurry has changed us in a way that's skewed our sense of value. It took 50 years to see the first electric cars appear from when they were first announced as viable. As the richest, fastest growing, most productive country in civilization we were throwing away our environment and natural resources to gain more short term comfort. Well, we finally are recycling, repurposing, and driving electric cars.