Getting answers to the Lakeview Ave. bridge arbitration award confusion is akin to a mouse going through a maze to find the cheese. There are dead ends, roadblocks, and things that will just about make your head spin. On Thursday night, in a nearly three-hour meeting at , the Town Council's Lakeview Ave. Bridge Arbitration Subcommittee continued on its fact finding mission. The meeting was attended by a small group of people who were interested in how a nearly $650,000 arbitration award could have "slipped through the cracks," as said this one did.
Gary Conrad, the chief financial officer of New Canaan, was grilled about everything from the town's financial guidelines to specifics about the capital non-recurring fund — from which the award payment was made — to e-mails that shared information about who knew what and when did they know it concerning the payout that . The horse was let out of the barn a long time ago and Walker has already taken responsibility for the error, so why go on what seems like a witch hunt?
"I think our goal is not so much looking back as it is moving forward," said and subcommittee member, Beth Jones. "We're working on finding where the glitches were so we make sure something like this doesn't happen again."
Also at issue during the meeting was the role of the Town Treasurer, a position that's been held by V. Donald Hersam since 1965. Hersam's signature is stamped on town checks. There were questions about where Hersam was when the bills were presented and paid for legal fees and the arbitration award itself.
In addition, questions were raised about which expenses are reimbursable by the state. While construction costs of the bridge incurred by New Canaan are eligible for reimbursement by the state, the legal bills are not, leaving the town on the hook for more than $800,000.
"I think we are finding out a lot," resident Fred Chang said. "We are getting there step by step, but I'm not completely satisfied with any of their answers, I'm sorry to say."
That mistakes were made has been acknowledged. How to prevent the similar errors from happening again was the most important thing to the subcommittee members.
"I think the meeting was very productive," said Town Council member Thomas 0'Dea. "We're getting answers for our residents and that's what our job is. But, obviously, we have to do things better."