Shelton education building’s unfinished landscaping may finally be completed

The area in the front of Board of Education (BOE) administrative office on Long Hill Avenue may be spruced up in the near future.

Work on the outdoor area’s landscaping had begun a few years ago but then it stopped, giving the outdoor entrance of the building an unfinished and unattractive appearance.

The area now is an uncoordinated combination of various brick designs, piles of pea stone, gravel, dirt, grinded asphalt and asphalt chunks, and burgeoning weeds and high grass.

During the public speaking session at the BOE meeting Wednesday night, resident Judson Crawford complained about what the front area looked like.

“There should be a way to beautify the front of this building,” said Crawford, a longtime city Board of Taxation and Apportionment member who now is running for alderman in the Third District.

Later in the meeting, in reaction to Crawford’s comments, BOE Chairman Mark Holden announced that school administrators had just handed him a note informing him the front area’s landscaping would be completed by Aug. 15.

“We’ll have to have a celebration,” Holden said about finishing the work.

Visitors to the building

Crawford had pointed out that many members of the public visit the central office — the former Ripton School building — due to the need to make pay-to-play payments so their children can participate on school athletic teams.

Various meetings also take place in the building on a regular basis, and outside people also visit to meet with school administrators.

“It’s about time someone stepped up to make a suggestion to the Board of Education even though you have more serious things that have to be tended to,” Crawford said.

What not just a lawn?

After the meeting, BOE member John Francino-Quinn questioned why the front area hadn’t simply been seeded to create a lawn after a playground was removed following the closure of Ripton School.

Francino-Quinn said this would have been easier and less expensive than having started — and, up to now, not completed — a landscaping project.

He had been PTA president of Ripton School, which served students with special needs, when the handicapped-accessible playground was built.

The playground equipment eventually was moved to Long Hill School. He said at that time, he had suggested putting grass seed in the former playground area but education officials told him that might present a problem because it would require regular mowing.

Francino-Quinn said as then-chairman of the BOE’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, he tried to monitor what was being done to the area but then he was cut off from receiving correspondence on the potential cost of the landscaping.

“It should have been just grass seed because of all the money it’s costing taxpayers, which is unnecessary,” he said.