Community leaders in the small eastern Connecticut town of Willington have been debating what to do about their aging elementary and middle schools for years.
But the town’s plan to build a new combined school for its roughly 400 students is now being colored by a decision to locate that proposed project on a piece of land that is owned by the family of Erika Wiecenski, the town’s first selectwoman.
The potential for Wiecenski’s family to profit from the project and the process the town used to select the site has raised concerns among citizens in Willington and prompted several residents to question the motivations of their elected leaders.
Unlike some municipalities in Connecticut, Willington doesn’t have an ethics policy to guide public officials like Wiecenski, a Democrat, in how to avoid using their positions to advantage themselves or their family members. And despite recent complaints from Willington residents, state ethics officers have no authority to review the actions of town officials.
The proposed school project is currently estimated to cost more than $62 million, with 40% to 50% of that money potentially coming from grants funded by state taxpayers.