$15,000 In Back Taxes Owed On Olney House 'Science Center'
The building is owned by former Gov. Donald Carcieri and his wife Suzanne.
The Olney House – owned by former Gov. Donald Carcieri and his wife Suzanne – is scheduled go up for tax sale this year because they owe $15,000 in back property taxes, according to EG Tax Assessor Janice Peixinho.
The Carcieris took over the house – which sits on the northeast corner of Academy Field on Church Street – from the town in 2001 to prevent it from being demolished with the idea of establishing a children's science center.
But after Donald Carcieri became governor in 2002, the project was put on the back burner. Peixinho said she overlooked the tax bill during Carcieri's two terms as governor.
"I let it go for the four years, eight years," she said. "I can’t look away the same as I couldn’t for the Odeum. People are calling and questioning it, so I put it on the tax roll."
Peixinho was referring to the very public treatment of the Greenwich Odeum's property taxes, which became an issue after it was returned to the tax rolls in 2009, a year after it stopped operating as a nonprofit. It took three years, but the Odeum has since returned to operation and regained its nonprofit status.
Peixinho said she wrote to the Carcieris in 2010 about the situation but didn't hear back until the property was on the tax sale list a year ago. Donald Carcieri called Peixinho because he said he'd learned about the tax sale listing from his daughter, who lived in East Greenwich (the Carcieris live in Saunderstown). He convinced her to take the house off the tax sale list with the promise of more information, but then Peixinho didn't hear from him again.
"Before you know it ... this is going to be on tax sale again," she said.
An email from the former governor to Town Manager Bill Sequino dated Jan. 15 says they are still moving ahead with the science center and that they have applied to the IRS for nonprofit status, have recently made some building improvements and are planning more.
The Olney House was a boy’s dormitory when the Greenwich Academy served as the high school for the region and the state. The Academy, founded in 1802, closed in 1943. The Carcieris' parents went to school there.
The Carcieris' plan was to preserve the building and create a children’s science education center, focusing on students in the fifth through eighth grades. Sue Carcieri is a former science teacher.
Donald Carcieri and his lawyer, David Dumas, did not return phone calls and emails for comment.