Selectmen Launch Assessment of Town's Municipal Space Needs

The first step will be to meet with the Board of Education and discuss which schools might be closed.

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has decided to begin an assessment of the town’s municipal space needs, in order to lay out a road map for the next decade.

First Selectman Patricial Llodra said the last municipal space needs assessment was done in 1999, so it’s about time to do a new one.

She said the assessment would also plan for three significant projects coming up in the future: the construction of a community center, a police station and a senior center.

Another consideration is whether the Board of Education might close another school because of declining pupil enrollment.

James Gaston and William Rodgers, the two other selectmen in attendance at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting Monday evening, joined Llodra to unanimously authorize her to ask the school board to meet with the selectmen for a discussion about future school closings.

Llodra said the Board of Education has identified as the one it would most likely close because of declining enrollment.

However, the rising expense for renovations needed for , including about $6 million to bring the building, built in 1921, into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and another $6 million for a new HVAC system and boilers, raise the possibility that that school might also be targeted to close.

Rodgers said the Board of Education had listed Reed as its first choice to close because it would be the easiest to reopen if pupil enrollment were to increase. That might not be so easy if the closed school were filled with town programs.

The needs assessment also has implications for the town’s CIP (Capital Improvement Program), which is currently under review because its projected cost would exceed its budget limit.

The town’s budget planning set the CIP cost at no higher than 9 percent. Finance Director Robert Tait told the Board of Finance recently that capital improvement projects already approved would push the cost over 10 percent of the budget, and that would get even worse if the town went ahead with the Hawley School project.

So , except for repairs to a number of bridges and construction of a new firehouse, until municipal needs are reviewed.

Llodra said the projects that would be immediately affected are for , which have been put on hold.

"Those are projects that have been vetted. We just don’t have the resources," Llodra said.

Paul Alexander August 09, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I wasn’t addressing solar panels but rather the generally accepted business practice of shuttering excess capacity. But since you raised the issue...The ROI on solar here in all-year sunny Florida is horrible. Connecticut??? Solar in Newtown seems more like a feel good initiative rather than a smart business decision.
Fred vili August 09, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I cannot believe that people are still talking about a new police station. It is a wish list item that would be a waste of money. We should be reducing the police budget not increasing. I am saddened that it is so easy to take money from the schools but to cut the town side is impossible.
Paul Alexander August 09, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I agree. For some reason taxpayer funded organizations are prone to building Taj Mahals for themselves. Of course, the PD will play the "Public Safety" card to get their way.
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com August 09, 2012 at 08:12 PM
The hearing and town meeting on the Middle school Solar panels and the lease has been postponed.
Big Family August 09, 2012 at 09:30 PM
No money should be spent on the Hawley school. Close it and find a new revenue generating use for it. Keep Reed open and redefine its use if needed. If the police Dept. gets a dime for any kind of construction it should come out of the town benefits fund. What is with these people!


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