Back in October, a topic of discussion was the bad choices our city leaders make when it comes to handling our tax dollars. In a posting it was noted that we were throwing another $78,000 at the stupid neon fire helmet on the Trenton Fire HQ building while our central high school building was falling apart.
This week we are treated to the news that the fate of the grand old lady on Chambers Street is all but sealed. A recommendation has been set before the Board of Education to vote to build a new high school and demolish the existing one. It's all about costs, we're told.
Estimates to renovate the 75 year old high school run more than $250 million dollars. Money that the city certainly doesn't have and that the fiscally irresponsible Schools Development Authority (SDA)--formerly the corrupt and mismanaged Schools Construction Corps (SCC) frittered away. So the SDA is offering to fund an estimated $90 - $100 million for new construction.
While many in the community want to see the building saved and returned to its former glory, a majority on the school board and Superintendent Rodney Lofton seem inclined to give in to the State's demand to build a new school.
A special meeting has been called for 5:30 pm January 22 a the Schools Administration building on North Clinton Avenue. The meeting appears to be more of a concession to those pushing for preservation than any real attempt to discuss alternatives to demolition.
"I think the conversation is over," Lofton is reported to have said.
So, if a new school is built, does anyone think it will last 75 years or more? Will a new school be constructed as well as the existing one was? Will it be maintained better than the current one is?
And how environmentally sound is it for this allegedly "green thinking" city to tear down and haul off a huge building? What about the price of demolition and disposal of the material from the current school site? Has that been calculated into the cost estimates for abandoning the existing school and building a new one?
This is just another prime example of the inability of Trenton's leadership to deal with problems in a reasonable and realistic way. We repeatedly mismanage things until they are beyond repair and then throw good money after bad building new.
We let our water department infrastructure deteriorate to the point where it is "more cost effective" to sell it off to the highest bidder than to make the necessary investments in maintaining a first class system that can help generate income for our cash strapped city.
We run up huge amounts of police overtime expenses instead of hiring and retaining the adequate number of officers needed to make a real and lasting impact on public safety.
Sooner or later, we are going to have to pay the price of all this neglect and mismanagement. It is time to pay up and stop making the same stupid management decisions over and over again.
Deferred maintenance is not a productive or effective way to manage our assets.
Whether it is a police department, water utility or the public high school, they were all looked upon as investments in the city's future. We need to rededicate ourselves to preserving and maintaining those assets because we cannot continue to build anew.
The cost is just too high.