Mike Benevento

Recent Articles

Town Officials to Committee Steering NCHS Fields Project: ‘It’s Like We Ordered a Rolls Royce and We Ended Up with a Toyota’

A building contractor of 30 years experience who sits on the town’s legislative body said last week that he sees two major signs that spelled failure on recently disclosed cost overruns for a widely anticipated sports fields building project at New Canaan High School. According to Town Council member Joe Paladino, it’s never advantageous to be under a “tight time crunch” with respect to deadlines in a large project. “It’s not a great idea to have gun against your head and you folks truly did because you are under a time crunch, and there’s no way out of it,” Paladino told the chairman and secretary of the town-appointed committee that’s overseeing the turf fields and track project at the high school, now estimated to cost $5.8 million. “When your architect says he is ‘shocked’ by the number and your committee is ‘shocked’ by the number you are getting from your contractor, how do you know you got the right number?” Paladino told Bob Spangler and Mike Benevento of the Fields Building Committee during a meeting of the council’s Land Use and Recreation Subcommittee, held Sept. 20 at Town Hall. Continue Reading →

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Meeting Minutes Detailing Decision to Change NCHS Fields Projects Filed Aug. 30, Two Months Late

Though officials said this week that meeting minutes disclosing a controversial decision to change a taxpayer-funded project without notifying New Canaan’s funding bodies were available after that decision was made, the public record shows that those minutes weren’t filed with the Town Clerk until Aug. 30. The June 23 meeting of the Fields Building Committee was attended by four of five regular members—Chairman Bob Spangler, Secretary Mike Benevento, Scott Werneburg and Nick Williams (regular member Amy Bennett was absent)—as well as four ex officio members, Recreation Director Steve Benko, New Canaan High School Athletic Director Jay Egan, Public Works Director Tiger Mann and Parks Superintendent John Howe. First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and Public Works Senior Engineer Joe Zagarenski also were present. According to meeting minutes date-stamped Aug. Continue Reading →

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‘We Feel a Bit Bamboozled’: Unhappy Finance Board Votes To Commit $3.9 Million for NCHS Fields Projects; Figure Is Up $800,000 Since April

Decrying a lack of transparency, finance officials on Tuesday night still approved a revisited bonding package of $3.9 million for fields upgrades now underway at New Canaan High School—$800,000 more in town funds than the project had been estimated to cost just five months ago. While praising the volunteer New Canaan Athletic Foundation for its fundraising, members of the Board of Finance also voiced concerns that a town-appointed committee that includes NCAF members—ostensibly a group charged with helping to oversee the fields projects—this summer withheld critical information about a higher-than-expected bid for the work as well as other costs that drove up the price tag. Instead of disclosing in late June to town funding bodies that some costs related to the fields projects had come in far higher than expected, committee members decided to change parts of the agreed-upon project on their own, spending public money in ways not vetted before the Board of Finance or Town Council, officials said. Representatives of that committee—namely, Bob Spangler and Mike Benevento (it also includes Amy Bennett, Scott Werneburg and Nick Williams)—defended their decision by saying it was the best way to ensure the fields would be completed on time. They focused on getting the baseline fields and track work done and, as a result, the existing Water Tower turf field, re-graded and with a costly repair to its former slope, will be ready by the end of this month, while the second turf field and track will be done by mid-November, Spangler said. Continue Reading →

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Turf Fields, Track Construction Projects at NCHS Near Fall Completion Dates

A rebuilt turf field next to the Waveny water towers will be completed by the end of next month, officials say, while a new turf field next to it and renovated New Canaan High School track will be ready by mid-November. The widely anticipated, three-part project is a joint effort of the town and New Canaan Athletic Foundation, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that launched last summer and rapidly raised enough money to re-turf Dunning Field. Youth sports programs are working now with the town to ensure that each one has adequate field space for this fall, NCAF officials said. Since early July, the playing fields at NCHS have been transformed into an active construction site as the large-scale project got underway. (Updates can be tracked here, on the NCAF’s Facebook page.)

So far, the town has committed $3.1 million through bonding to the turf fields and track while the NCAF has raised $1,750,000. Continue Reading →

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Did You Hear … ?

A chipmunk has been darting into New Canaan Olive Oil this week when the door near Elm Street’s 50-yard-line is propped open. The staff at the shop has successfully ushered the small animal back out again. ***

New Canaan Police will enforce seatbelt use among local motorists with the department’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign, to run May 22 to June 4 at random checkpoints in town. ***

The New Canaan Land Trust has room for two more paid interns to work for the organization this summer. The Land Trust is looking for rising sophomores and juniors and pays $100 per week (for four days a week) for a 5-week summer resetting stonewalls, removing invasive plants, blazing trails, building wildlife habitat, doing research and learning about the land. Continue Reading →

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