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Norma Bartol: Amount spent on Greenwich’s schools is ‘unbelievable’

January 31, 2019

In my wildest dreams I would not have thought that this headline would appear in my paper: “Gas leak halts meeting on school repairs.” That part of the school system in Greenwich is a disaster, which we all knew would happen.

Of course, to my surprise, the RTM (Representative Town Meeting, for those who don’t know but should) approved $750,000 to fix the damage from two bad water leaks. In came to $217,000 to repair the Greenwich High School mechanical room under the science wing, where a leak occurred Nov. 15, and $536,000 to repair the Performing Arts Center, which sprang a leak Dec. 12.

In my book, that amount of town money makes one think that the $750,000 to fix the damage is chicken feed compared to the millions, or possibly have we reached billions, that we have already spent? I guess not, but just wait, the time will come. I really didn’t want to make an account of what has gone into the building of the high school, and now all the repairs that have been going on. One fight after another. The money that has been spent on schools in this town is unbelievable to me.

What is troubling to this scribe is the fact that the money just keeps going out. Hopefully, the damage will be covered by insurance.

But what of the firms that did the work in the first place? That is one point I’d like to make. At my house, if something new goes wrong, the responsible firm fixes it at no cost. Why doesn’t this work with the school system? Is there some way that those responsible will be held responsible? We can litigation to begin over this.

On a lighter note, I find it hard to believe that Mad River Glen is celebrating 70 years! It was on Dec. 11, 1948, that the resort first ran its famous single chair lift by Roland Palmedo, the mountain’s founder. He had built the single chair lift in Stowe in the 1930s.

As I mentioned last week, he was getting tired of the commercial interests that had taken over, and was looking for a new, wonderful mountain. He found just that with the help of Ken Quackenbush, who was general manager at Mad River Glen for 25 years.

Palmedo founded General Stark Mountain, and all those who enjoy it will say thank you to him. He bought 700 acres and got to work. Palmedo believed that “a ski area is not just a place of business, but rather a place where both skiers and area personnel are dedicated to the enjoyment of the sport.”

There was great excitement when the single chair lift was opened for the 1949 season. In 1961, a double chair lift was added, and the practice slope chair was added in 1971.

In 1972, Truxton Pratts’ group purchased Mad River Glen, and after his death his wife, Betsy, continued to run both the mountain and the inn. Betsy was determined to sell to the skiers and shareholders, which she did.

When the co-op shareholders felt that the aging single chair lift needed replacing, instead of installing a fancy new lift, they worked with Stark Mountain Foundation and the Preservation Trust of Vermont to replace it with the same lift. The money for the new single chair lift was raised locally.

Today, Mad River Glen is the only ski area in the nation on the National Register of Historic Places. “Mad River’s goal is to maintain and preserve the experience” — I hope it will always be this way.

Greenwich native Norma Bartol, a former Greenwich Time reporter and columnist, lives in the backcountry.

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