Letter - Solution doesn’t have to be new building


The recent letter concerning why new and not remodel was well thought out. Many of us have been discussing the same concerns.

Where is the study by the district regarding a remodel of the existing building? Classrooms too small? Remove walls. Windows old and single pane? Replace. Heating and air conditioning not adequate? Replace and install new.

All of the concerns I have read can be corrected within the current building.

In California our son’s engineering firm specializes in this type of remodel and renovation to schools and buildings that are up to almost a 100 years old, bringing them to current and modern standards.

In Walla Walla it seems we do not have a desire to save and live with just a little less, we just want new and better. Oh, and we can get this new building for a cost of approximately 9 percent over the state average, 9 percent of $10 million when I do the math is $900,000. And we seem to think it is no big deal.

Well I have news: It is a big deal. If the bond as currently proposed is passed, who is going to be the watchdog for the voters to see that money is returned to the voters?

If I recall we have been to this dance before and the money went to another behind-the-scenes project. If we do not have someone appointed from the citizens to watch the project it is very easy toward the end to start writing change orders for things we thought we could not have but now with these funds that would go back to the voters we can spend them down.

This project could be fast-tracked to be ready for the students when they return in the fall if the district desired to have it done this way.

No one is saying we do not need to have a better science building. We are just saying there very well may be a better way. “No” to new.

Allen Litzenberger

Walla Walla


fatherof5 1 year, 4 months ago

This letter: "If the bond as currently proposed is passed, who is going to be the watchdog for the voters to see that money is returned to the voters?"

Response: um, the law? It's written into the bond.

This letter: "This project could be fast-tracked to be ready for the students when they return in the fall if the district desired to have it done this way."

Response: My goodness, why do these people care enough now to write letters, but did not care enough over the past year to attend the many, many public meetings where they could have learned that this idea is not at all close to being possible? At all.

(breathe, fatherof5, breathe....)


rider 1 year, 4 months ago

The letter reflects the opinion of Mr. Litzenberger. Why the constant need to criticize those who disagree with you?


fatherof5 1 year, 4 months ago

Because this matters. It matters for kids. So if someone is going to write a letter for public consumption persuading people to vote against something that will benefit kids, I have little patience for people who use erroneous information, and who don't even bother to show up at meetings or do their research.

The "watchdog" fear comment in this letter is a result of not understanding that the district was pretty clear during the Edison bond that it intended to spend money on "other capital projects," which is why they put that language right into the bond. Clarity is also why they put legally binding language into THIS bond that any excess funds would go back to the taxpayers.

The "fast-track" comment for a remodeled building to be completed by this fall shows an utter lack of understanding of how this works, yet this person is qualified to tell others how to vote?

Write a letter where you explain how the $5 per month is more than you can handle and that you don't qualify for the over 60 / under $35k exemption. I won't criticize that.

Write a letter where you make rational points that remodeling the science building makes more sense than building a new one. I will respectfully point out why I disagree, but I won't criticize you.

But if you throw out nonsense, then it deserves a rebuttal.


rider 1 year, 4 months ago

Nobody criticized you personally in your March 21 letter to the editor, they simply disagreed or stated their own opinions.


fatherof5 1 year, 4 months ago

Respectfully, mspinks, when I got home Friday night and read (1) one letter that proposed that only half of the citizenry should pay for schools, (2) another letter that blamed the Wa-Hi bond on Obama, and then (3) this letter that was actually the best of the three, but was still filled with factual errors, I was admittedly exasperated.

I referred to the writers of these letters as "these people" and "this letter" so as not to call them out by name, but it was indeed my intent to criticize the practice of writing letters that are untruthful, and to lament their lack of involvement in the planning process while they apparently feel free to publicly criticize during the implementation stage what they haven't taken the time to understand. You and I may disagree, but I think that's a fair criticism.

In other words, if you use factual information, then we can focus on the facts. But if you use erroneous information or logical fallacies, then that becomes a distraction to the real argument and needs to be pointed out.

Having said that, do I wish I had instead written dereksarley's comment (see below) and had used less exasperation in my tone? Yeah, I do. What Derek did below is what I strive to do, but sometimes fall short.

That doesn't change the reality that people really should fact-check their letters with someone who knows better before they submit them. It is part of carrying on a responsible public discourse.


downhillracer 1 year, 4 months ago

Mr. Litzenberger is entitled to his own opinion, not his own facts. Thank you, fatherof5 for working to keep the conversation on-point.


dereksarley 1 year, 4 months ago

Mr. Litzenberger,

Of the many letters published to date regarding the Wa-Hi Science Lab building, I find this one the most personally disappointing.

This letter stands in stark contrast to the many mean-spirited, small-minded naysayers who either don't care about kids or can't get past their much broader anger over the taxing and spending decisions in places far from Walla Walla to understand these will be some of the most meaningful and long-lasting $5 a month they will ever be asked to spend.

Mr. Litzenberger has raised reasonable issues and asked reasonable questions. The disappointing part is that they all have reasonable answers.

The first issue is one of renovating vs. building new. It is simply not the case that renovating an old building is always cheaper than building a new one, especially when your plans call for moving out walls on the existing footprint and hoping you don't get any surprises when you do.

There is furthermore the issue of space. If every College Place student left today, Wa-Hi would still be educating kids in portable classrooms. Not as many, thankfully, but some. Were the District to follow the suggestion above and just knock down some interior walls, yes, they'd have larger classrooms -- but they'd have fewer of them as well. That would mean shoving students right back into those same sub-standard, "temporary" classrooms.

The next objection relates to cost. This is where the U-B's previous reporting on this issue is also disappointing. The "average" cost per square foot for school construction is a number that only makes sense in context. High school science classrooms are more expensive than middle school reading rooms, because they're built for more demanding needs. No young student's mind has ever been set so ablaze by reading Shakespeare that he had to dash into the safety shower located in the chemistry lab. The District isn't choosing heated seats and the fancy undercoating here -- the estimates just reflect the slight price premium on a dedicated science building.

The next issue relates to trust. I do not understand why the current School Board keeps getting criticizes for decisions made by their predecessors -- sometimes as far back as 50 years ago. The Board has stated categorically that excess funds will be used to pay down the bonds, not spent on additional items. It’s written into the language of the bond measure.

The last point relates to timing. If there's a contractor who could actually complete a big, complex job like a school renovation in three months, I'd really like to hire him to work on our upstairs bathroom.


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