Roses & Thorns
ROSES to the Western Connecticut Health Network and everyone involved in the successful $150 million addition to Danbury Hospital, which officially opened recently.
Praise goes to Dr. John Murphy, president and chief executive officer of WCHN, the umbrella organization that includes New Milford, Danbury and Norwalk hospitals; to Michael Daglio, the chief operating officer, Morris Gross, the vice president for facilities and real estate, and Grace Linhard, chief development officer of the WCHN Foundation, for the key roles they played in the project; to Peter Buck, a Danbury resident and co-founder of the Subway sandwich chain, who donated a record $30 million toward creation of the facility; and to the 11 other donors who contributed more than $1 million each.
The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Pavilion -- so named in honor of Buck and his late wife -- is an 11-story structure that adds 316,000 square feet of space to the hospital, including the 40,000-square-foot Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Emergency Department and a state-of-the-art, 30-bed critical care unit.
The addition, which is the product of three years of planning and three years of construction, won't be open to patients until later this summer.
When those doors are opened to the public, area residents including those in the Greater New Milford area will be fortunate indeed to be blessed with a much bigger, much more modern facility to serve their medical needs, as a complement to the services offered locally at New Milford Hospital.
THORNS to the Region 12 Board of Education and its superintendent of schools, Pat Cosentino, for being out of touch with the residents of the district towns of Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington.
This year, Region 12 officials made the mistake of holding a referendum calling for consolidation of the district's three elementary schools, even though that proposal had zero chance of passing, given the traditionally strong opposition in Bridgewater and Roxbury to closing their local schools.
The board compounded the error by lumping an $8.3 million repairs and renovations package for Shepaug Valley Middle/High School in the same question with the consolidation plan, despite being urged to separate those two issues on the ballot.
When the proposal went down by an embarrassingly lopsided margin on April 29, that meant the board had no idea how the public felt about the repairs/renovations plan.
In light of all the talk during the run-up to that referendum about whether Region 12, the high school and the middle school will even exist 10 or 20 years down the road due to sharply declining enrollment figures, it would have been wise for district officials to deal with that issue head-on before resubmitting the repairs/renovation plan to the voters.
Yet the board went right ahead with another referendum, and the results were predictable.
Bridgewater and Roxbury shot the plan down by big numbers and, while Washington approved it, the woeful 13 percent voter turnout reflected only lukewarm support.
Twice rebuked, the Region 12 board and Cosentino need to go back to square one, sincerely listen to the public, and come up with a vision and game plan -- whatever that may be -- that can be supported by the residents of the three district communities.