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Selectmen Approve Capital Improvement Plan

The Board of Selectmen discuss and vote on conceptual priorities for the Capital Improvement Plan.

As the town prepares its Capital Improvement Plan for the next five years, officials said they have to take into account many factors and remain flexible in light of changing conditions, such as the possibility that Newtown Middle School might close several years from now if declining enrollment estimates prove true.

If the school were to close, the building may open up for other community use for which the town had been planning.

“Certainly there could be consideration for community center, senior center, police station,” First Selectman Pat Llodra said during a Monday Board of Selectman meeting. “We may in fact look at these projects very differently if the building is not to be used as a school.”

In addition to potentially changing facility uses, the town is looking to borrow less money than in the past for capital projects, setting as an eventual goal a debt cap of 9-percent of its annual operating budget.

At the moment, officials already have had to trim to the scope of some projects in the near term in order to avoid bumping up against a 10-percent debt cap. That is because the town is still paying off the debt of past capital projects, which leaves less room to take on additional debt in the near term.

“By the time, we get to (20)15-16, some of the debt is paid off and we have a little more flexibility,” Llodra said. “The first time we can take a big step is in 2015-16.”

Education officials have had to agree to trim its list of capital projects in order to reduce the debt load. For instance, the Hawley School boiler project proposed for 2012-13 was reduced by $700,000 by limiting the work to just replacing boilers rather than a full redesign of the heating system, which would have consolidated the number of boiler rooms and called for an overhaul of the piping system, officials said.

The Newtown Middle School renovation project also was removed from the 2014-15 list of projects due to the uncertainty of how that building may be used in the future, though the design fees associated with the middle school was put into 2014-15, according to Debbie Leidlein, who is in charge of the facilities subcommittee for the Board of Education

While the funding may have to be moved around and the location for projects could change in the future, officials should still set priorities when it comes to the idea for the project, Llodra said.

“We are in such a state of flux that we don’t want to lock ourselves in to specific numbers,” she said. “We do want to lock ourselves into concepts.”

The selectmen debated briefly some of the priorities given to projects now on the Capital Improvement Plan, such as "infrastructure" plans at Fairfield Hills, which Selectman Bill Furrier questioned initially until learning the work would be for lighting the and other improvements that will allow people to better enjoy the campus.

Furrier also questioned the priority placed on open space acquisition, in relation to other projects.

Llodra said open space acquisition has been pulled off the Capital Improvement Plan in recent years but may need to be returned as a way to preserve some of the look-and-feel of Newtown. She said land use officials already have identified parcels available for purchase should the town have the money.

Furrier also questioned the reason behind the low priority given to the Hook and Ladder firehouse construction. Llodra said the town was committed to the project but issues remained on where a new firehouse would be built.

A controversial proposal to build a new one on Sugar Street was denied by the Inland Wetlands Commission and is now in litigation, although town officials also are in talks with firehouse officials on whether the project might fit in the area behind Edmond Town Hall near where the existing building stands if the space was reconfigured.

Funding for the project was to have start last fiscal year but was pushed off due to those outstanding issues, officials said.

In the end the selectmen made few changes to Llodra’s recommended plan with the only changing being lowering the priority of open space acquisition in 2013-14. The plan will now move to other town boards for discussion and vote.

2012-13 (Year 1)

  • Capitol road program: $2 million General Fund
  • Bridge replacement program: $430,000 bonding
  • Dickinson playground: $420,000 bonding
  • Infrastructure Renovations at Treadwell Park: $350,000 bonding, $100,00 other funding
  • Hook and Ladder firehouse (phase 2 of 3): $500,000 bonding
  • Queen Street area traffic improvement plan: $300,000 grants, $60,000 General Fund, $40,000 other funding
  • Sandy Hook streetscape program: $200,000 bonding

2013-14 (Year 2)

  • Capital road program: $2 million General Fund
  • Bridge replacement program: $315,000 bonding
  • Fairfield Hills infrastructure: $400,000 bonding, $1 million grants
  • Hook and Ladder firehouse (phase 2 of 3): $500,000 bonding
  • Open Space acquisition: $1 million bonding
  • Artificial turf replacement at Treadwell Park: $500,000 other funding
  • Sandy Hook streetscape program: $200,000 bonding

2014-15 (Year 3)

  • Capital road program: $2 million General Fund
  • Bridge replacement program: $355,000 bonding
  • Open space acquisition: $1 million bonding
  • Community Center design phase: $500,000 bonding
  • Fairfield Hills walking trails (phase 2 of 3): $250,000 bonding
  • Sandy Hook streetscape program: $200,000 bonding

Future years included in plan:

2015-16 (Year 4)

  • Capital road program ($2 million)
  • Bridge replacement program ($265,000)
  • Open space acquisition ($1 million)
  • Dickinson sprayground/bath house ($980,000)
  • Community Center construction (phase 1 of 2) ($10 million)
  • Fairfield Hills building demolition ($6 million)
  • Addition to firehouse substation ($400,000)
  • Replacement of two fire tankers ($700,000)
  • Edmond Town Hall ($810,000)
  • Fairfield Hills complete walking trails (phase 2 of 3) ($515,000)
  • Bathhouse /concession stand at Eichler’s Cove ($425,000)
  • Hawleyville sewer extension ($5 million)
  • Newtown Technology Park ($815,000)

2016-17 (Year 5)

  • Capital road program ($2 million)
  • Bridge replacement program ($414,000)
  • Replacement of Fire Tanker No. 9 and Engine No. 111 ($975,000)
  • Library ($250,000)
  • Senior Center design phase ($500,000)
  • Treadwell/Dickinson Parking lot paving (phase 1 of 3) ($300,000)
  • Community Center construction phase (phase 2 of 2) ($5 million)
  • Police facility design ($800,000)
yoda September 21, 2011 at 10:32 PM
Hey, anyone see George?
Swami September 21, 2011 at 10:34 PM
atta boy !
yoda September 21, 2011 at 10:38 PM
Sully, You know how hard it is to type with 3 fingers and long nails??? It's not easy, the force is strong not smart!
Po Murray September 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM
In 2008, the voters approved $1MM for the design of the P&R Community/Senior Center and for the demolition of the Litchfield Building to build the community center ($600,000 was allocated for the design and $400,000 was allocated for demolition). Additional funds were required to demolish Litchfield Hall therefore the bond appropriation was amended to add $425,000 for a total of $1.425,000. I requested the financial report from Bob Tait yesterday. The report shows that only $230,000 was spent for the design phase of the P&R Community/Senior Center and over $1.1MM was spent for the demolition. Now there is another request for $500,000 for the design phase of the community center in Year 3 of the 5-year Capital Improvement Plan and another $500,000 for a senior center design in Year 5. I am concerned that the LC and others were not told that the design funds were reallocated to demolish the building, $230,000 of design money was wasted and a total of $1MM of new spending is added to the 5-year CIP for something that was already funded by the voters. We already approved $$ for the design and now additional $1MM for another design phase. I was on the council when I rejected the original $1MM and I voted against it on the ballot because the project was not vetted. I tried to reduce the bond appropriation from $1,000,000 to $100,000 so that the project could be vetted and the schematics developed for the community/senior center project.
Po Murray September 23, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Selectmen Meeting Minutes 01-07-08 "Appropriation - $600,000 for Architectural and Engineering Services for Planning and Design of Park & Recreation Community Center/Senior Center Selectman Mangiafico moved a special appropriation in the amount of $600,000 for architectural and engineering services for planning and design of a Park & Recreation Community Center/Senior Center, to be funded by bonding. Motion seconded for discussion. Assistant Director of Parks & Recreation Carl Samuelson was present, along with Parks & Recreation Commission member Ms. P.J. Yoakum. Selectman Rosenthal asked if we know yet what we are designing – has the Commission on Aging and Parks & Recreation Commission decided? Mr. Samuelson advised that there have been some discussions with the seniors and also with the Cultural Arts Commission. The money being requested is for architectural services. We have put together the current square footage of the existing recreation programs and met with the seniors and know their square footage needs and concerns regarding operating services. We need funding to move forward so we can get a better grasp of what we will be designing. There have been preliminary discussions with O&G Industries regarding possibly phasing the project. We could start with Parks & Recreation and then integrate the seniors."
Po Murray September 23, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Selectmen Meeting Minutes 01-07-08 continued... "Selectman Rosenthal reminded that this bonding will require the approval of the Board of Finance, the Legislative Council and the Town Meeting. We will need some significant detail to go through those steps. This would also require demolition of Litchfield Hall, which would require probably $400,000 which is the cost of the previous demolition that was done. P&Z Chairman Lillla Dean suggested that a conceptual plan for the P&Z Commission would save time and be very helpful. They could then have Land Use staff look at this and possibly save making costly mistakes. Selectman Mangiafico moved to amend the motion by adding $400,000 for demolition of Litchfield Hall. Motion seconded and unanimously carried."
Po Murray September 23, 2011 at 01:28 PM
At the time, I suspected that adding a last minute addition of $400,000 to the bond appropriation for the community/senior center project was a strategy to get more funding for FFH since the 2001 bond dollars were being spent on the new town hall. The voters approved the $1MM ($600,000 for the community center/senior center design and $400,000 for the demolition of Litchfield Hall) when the HS expansion was approved in 2008. I am very disappointed that after spending $1.425,000, there is no concrete plan for the community/senior center. On the contrary, the HS expansion project (approved at the same time) was fully and properly vetted (with years of opposition from many elected officials) and we have a completed project. All school capital projects tend to be heavily scrutinized by the elected (and projects such as the Hawley HVAC project get the kibosh) but the town projects slide by with minimal scutiny. We must eliminate the double standard no matter the size and scope of the project. The $1,425,000 project is a classic example of poor planning on the town side of the equation and mismanagement of our tax dollars.
Newtownpatchreader September 23, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Your posts are getting out of control and it's tough to keep up with them.... But im trying. I guess I'm more interested in how you view things going forward. Most of your points deal with history. I've asked you and Bruce for responses and received none, but wanted to make a few points that are just my observations. First, the BOE projects, like the high school, was huge and would seem to warrant vetting at a larger level. Second, I've followed the process quite closely over the last five or six years and the unfair vetting you refer to is absent from my eyes. It seems pretty thorough and intense at times on both sides. Reading the minutes also and attending meetings are two different things as well. Also, if I recall, the Hawley kibosh you refer to came from the BOE at different points and the council at another. It was delayed by the council, not killed because of the concern of the cost of the high school. I haven't witnessed a double standard at all when I attend the meetings, which I do frequently.
Newtownpatchreader September 23, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Also, I stopped by and picked up the CIP as it was presented last evening at the Board of Finance. Your comment about lack of planning and unfair vetting should be pursued. I suggest you look for yourself. The Selectmen CIP was in a binder that was two inches think. It had volumes of back up and detail. The Board of Ed's CIP was two pages with no backup or rationale. It does appear that their numbers have been reduced, but no backup. It may be more helpful for you to either attend the meetings or get the info directly. The Town also said that they would be putting it all on the Town website shortly.
Po Murray September 23, 2011 at 07:36 PM
Dear Newtownpatchreader, I do not plan on responding to Patch bloggers who do not use their real name.
Sam Mihailoff September 23, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Po, the little "check marks" in the ballot box ae nameless too
onceuponanewtown September 23, 2011 at 08:15 PM
Thank you Sam for pointing out the obvious!
Newtownpatchreader September 23, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Thats unfortunate. As a Newtown voter, I would think you would.
Sam Mihailoff September 23, 2011 at 08:50 PM
Dear Po Murray, PART ONE Your posts are getting out of control and it's tough to keep up with them.... But im trying. I guess I'm more interested in how you view things going forward. Most of your points deal with history. I've asked you and Bruce for responses and received none, but wanted to make a few points that are just my observations. First, the BOE projects, like the high school, was huge and would seem to warrant vetting at a larger level. Second, I've followed the process quite closely over the last five or six years and the unfair vetting you refer to is absent from my eyes. It seems pretty thorough and intense at times on both sides. Reading the minutes also and attending meetings are two different things as well. Also, if I recall, the Hawley kibosh you refer to came from the BOE at different points and the council at another. It was delayed by the council, not killed because of the concern of the cost of the high school. I haven't witnessed a double standard at all when I attend the meetings, which I do frequently.
Sam Mihailoff September 23, 2011 at 08:51 PM
PART TWO Also, I stopped by and picked up the CIP as it was presented last evening at the Board of Finance. Your comment about lack of planning and unfair vetting should be pursued. I suggest you look for yourself. The Selectmen CIP was in a binder that was two inches think. It had volumes of back up and detail. The Board of Ed's CIP was two pages with no backup or rationale. It does appear that their numbers have been reduced, but no backup. It may be more helpful for you to either attend the meetings or get the info directly. The Town also said that they would be putting it all on the Town website shortly.
Newtownpatchreader September 23, 2011 at 08:51 PM
Kevin Fitzgerald, an IPN candidate, was kind enough to reply to a question I posed him. Although I didn't agree with everything he had to say, he took the time to respond. A quote from your blog : " We look forward to hearing from the voters" You have always held yourself out as a candidate and party that represents the voters. I was just offering an opinion....
Sam Mihailoff September 23, 2011 at 08:53 PM
ok, Po...you found me out..."Newtownpatchreader" is my nome de plume
yoda September 23, 2011 at 09:01 PM
Sam, Meet me at the new police dept!
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com September 23, 2011 at 09:09 PM
The blog from Newtownpatchreader and from Sam Mihailoff are identical. So Sam apparently you also blog under the name newtownpatchreader. Might you also be yoda. Exactly how many names are you using on the patch?
yoda September 23, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Bruce, police commision I sense in you
yoda September 23, 2011 at 09:15 PM
Ask Mrs Gaston when constructions starting for our New Police Dept!!!!
yoda September 23, 2011 at 09:17 PM
Bruce you are reaching, Im telling Daune on you!!
Newtownpatchreader September 23, 2011 at 09:18 PM
We are not the same person. I don't know Sam.
yoda September 23, 2011 at 09:20 PM
http://youtu.be/R4dyRTAfsKc
yoda September 23, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Newtownpatch, Tell him your going to tell Jose and Mike On him if he doesn't stop!!!
Sam Mihailoff September 23, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Bruce, you are indeed a brilliant man. You have found me out...... Yes, I am Yoda, Hoa, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie as well
yoda September 23, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Sam where are you?
Sam Mihailoff September 23, 2011 at 09:57 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neverland
Sam Mihailoff September 23, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Gee, no reply from Ms. Murray even with a real name..."Waillllll I'llllllllll be"
yoda September 23, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Sam , LIsten you will enjoy this! http://youtu.be/I3vmajqZIWY

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