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CT Construction Digest Friday December 9, 2022

From school security to development, CT board approves $1 billion in projects

Ken Dixon

Days before next week's 10th anniversary of the Newtown school massacre, the State Bond Commission on Thursday approved $10 million in the state's competitive school security grant program for hardening buildings, purchasing cameras, electronic locks, ballistic glass and other measures.

"This has been an ongoing effort every since Sandy Hook," said Gov. Ned Lamont, who heads the 10-member panel. "We're continuing to do everything we can, thanks to the folks here, to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep our kids and our teachers and our schools safe."

The program, approved by the General Assembly in 2013, includes private and parochial schools at a rate of 10 percent, compared to 90 percent for public schools. 

The commission's last meeting of the calendar year lasted 43 minutes as members approved more than a billion dollars in new borrowing for a variety of statewide projects, about half of which are transportation-related, including $100 million for track and facility improvements at Hartford's Union Station. The 55-item agenda was approved with no opposition to Lamont and his budget chief, Jeffrey Beckham, who review and approve items for inclusion in the monthly agenda.

"It's not very flashy," Lamont said of the projects reviewed and approved one-by-one in a packed meeting room in the Legislative Office building. "It's not very flashy. We're fixing and replacing and renovating and rejuvenating, and just fixing stuff."

The Dixwell Plaza redevelopment in New Haven was allocated $10 million from the state's Community Investment Fund for a new 150-unit, mixed use project expected to cost $200 million. Erik Clemens, chief executive officer of the Connecticut Community Outreach and Revitalization Program, said the plan will transform the downtown neighborhood, with the state funding putting the project on-track..

"Some of you may know that the Dixwell community is a historic Black community that has languished in poverty and disinvestment for decades," Clemens said, stressing that demolition of the existing Dixwell Plaza should begin in June or July of next year. "We're going to deliver housing," Clemens said. "We're going to deliver a public square, a child care facility, a 15-restaurant food hall, a 60,000 square-foot office tower, town houses, greenhouses, a 300-seat performing arts center, job-training programs as well as a supermarket."

Middletown was approved for $12 million to demolish and remediate a property in the first phase of the so-called Return to the Riverbend project along River Road near the Connecticut River. The city of Ansonia was approved for $6.5 million in the active rehabilitation and redevelopment of the former Ansonia Copper and Brass site on Liberty Street.

More than $100 million was approved for housing programs, including $1.7 million for Baldwin Holdings project in Bridgeport for a mixed-income site with 50 units; $2.1 million for the BIMEC Housing Development's affordable housing on Shelton Avenue.

The panel allocated $1 million to design improvements to the New Haven Harbor, including the analysis of a rock to be removed at the entrance to the channel.

Items approved included:

$40 million for the UConn Health Center for boiler replacements, elevators maintenance and window repairs.

$34 million for technology upgrades in various state departments including the office of state comptroller and the Department of Social Services.

$30 million for town road-aid grants.

$15 million to upgrade and replace the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection's mobile radio network.

$3 million for the study and design of exterior renovations to the Superior Courthouse on Elm Street in downtown New Haven.

$1.2 million for 28 police departments to purchase body cameras, dashboard cameras and video storage devices, including the University of New Haven as well as Gateway and Housatonic community colleges; and Easton, New Haven, Thomaston, Torrington, Wallingford, Ansonia, Bethel, New Fairfield and Watertown.

New Haven Housing, Healthcare Projects Get $21M+ State Boost


Dixwell Plaza’s mixed-use redevelopment, a new health center on Grand Avenue, and new affordable apartments on Shelton Avenue were some of the dozen New Haven projects to receive over $21 million in support from Hartford in an end-of-year windfall of state aid.

That infusion of state cash for New Haven-based projects came Thursday from the State Bond Commission.

The commission signed off on over $500 million in state aid for projects across the state, including more than $21 million heading to the Elm City.

“These projects that are receiving funding in New Haven are each built around the shared goal of supporting the people who live in the city and making it an even better place to live and work,” Gov. Ned Lamont is quoted as saying in a Thursday afternoon email press release sent out by Connecticut House Democrats. ​“I am glad we could get this funding approved today.”

New Haven State Reps. Al Paolillo Jr. and Juan Candelaria are also quoted in that press release as celebrating this rush of state aid.

“I am confident that these projects will have a positive and significant impact on New Haven, and I appreciate that Community Investment Fund and Governor Lamont and State Bond Commission recognize this as well,” Paolillo is quoted as saying. ​“I am happy to see New Haven with an opportunity to create greater health care access, leverage food entrepreneurship, respond and improve critical infrastructure that supports local economic development.”

“The Fair Haven Community Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center that has been around for decades providing much-needed primary, behavioral health, and dental care to the residents of New Haven, primarily to those that reside in the Fair Haven area,” Candelaria is quoted as saying. ​“The health center provides indispensable services to a large number of Hispanics in New Haven and this funding will assist with the construction of their new facility that will further enhance the delivery of services. I thank Governor Lamont for prioritizing this item on today’s agenda.”

The state grants for New Haven projects included in Thursday’s bond commission vote include:

• $10 million for ConnCORP’s planned redevelopment of Dixwell Plaza into a new mixed-use development with 150 new housing units, 20 percent of which will be reserved at below-market rents.

• $3 million for Fair Haven Community Health Care to help fund the health center’s planned new construction of an expanded facility at 382 – 394 Grand Ave. 

• $2,132,250 for the Believe In Me Empowerment Corporation’s (BIMEC) planned new construction of 18 affordable single-room apartments at 53 Shelton Ave.

• $1.5 million for the City of New Haven’s long-in-the-works planned rehab of 596 – 598 George St. into two owner-occupied, three-family residences.

• $1,092,500 for the local farmers market nonprofit CitySeed for the creation of a 10,000 square-foot facility with a new commercial kitchen and food business incubator.

• $1 million to help cover the costs of the design of the New Haven Harbor Improvement Federal Navigation Project. The Bond Commission agenda describes this project as: ​“Major design components include analysis of rock to be removed at the entrance channel to the harbor, ship simulation refinement based on specific vessel analysis with CT Pilots participation, tidal marsh beneficial use placement at Sandy spit; & plans and specifications for dredging and marsh placement, hydrographic survey, cultural resources investigation, value engineering, and contract documents for solicitation.”

• $780,000 to the Economic Development Corporation of New Haven to help outfit a ​“manufacturing training facility with specialized manufacturing equipment.”

• $594,938 for various improvements to Hillhouse and Wexler Grant schools. ​“Projects will include alterations, repairs, improvements, technology and equipment to help address building and site deficiencies, and to promote the health, safety, and learning of the students.”

• $500,000 for the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen for renovations to 266 State St. to create a ​“one-stop social services hub for people experiencing homelessness.”

• $401,810 to reimburse the New Haven Police Department for the costs of purchasing body cameras, dash cameras, and video storage devices.

• $312,619 for the local homelessness services nonprofit New Reach to ​“renovate facilities for greater safety and energy efficiency.”

• $155,000 for the New Haven Jewish Community Council Housing Corporation to help them ​“explore expanding services.”

State Bond Commission approves funds for schools and housing in the region

Johana Vazquez

The State Bond Commission Thursday approved almost $1 billion dollars in state funding with some of the money coming to southeastern Connecticut for schools and housing.

Gov. Ned Lamont chaired the meeting and said half of the funds were related to transportation. He said it was not a “flashy” agenda but the state is “fixing, replacing, renovating and rejuvenating” its transportation, state facilities and schools.

Among other schools in the state, New London Public Schools received $220,272 for Bennie Dover Jackson Multi-Magnet Middle School and New London High School for repairs and improvements to address building and site deficiencies. The two schools are in the middle of construction of a nearly $160 million two-campus project.

State Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, said he is incredibly grateful to Lamont and the members of the State Bond Commission for prioritizing the school funding.

“Our students deserve access to the best facilities and materials so that they can learn, grow, and thrive," he said in the release.

Ella T. Grasso Technical High School in Groton received $94,964 in funding for equipment.

In a package for various housing projects, the Norwich Housing Authority will receive a $4 million grant to finance infrastructure repairs and improvements at Sunset Park, which consists of 29 buildings with 35 two-bedroom units and 18 three-bedroom units

The bonding commission also approved $500,000 for the Norwich Community Development Corporation’s creation of a second business park on property it has yet to purchase in Occum. Norwich residents on Monday urged its City Council to delay or reject the plan as inappropriate for the quiet, rural residential area.

The NCDC will also receive $550,00 to re-development the Reid & Hughes building in downtown Norwich to create space for two minority-owned businesses and market-rate housing.

The commission also approved funding for state facilities, two of which are in Norwich. The Campbell building in Uncas will receive $186,274 for roof repairs and the Thames Valley Council for Community Action Agency will receive $284,050 for a boiler replacement.

In funding for state libraries, the commission allocated $250,000 to go towards the Waterford Public Library for an HVAC replacement and natural gas connection.

State Bond Commission approves funding for numerous projects, including Middletown’s riverfront revival

The State Bond Commission approved funding for multiple economic development projects across the state during a special meeting Thursday.

The funding includes $12 million for Middletown’s riverfront revival, meant to help the city further its plans to rejuvenate 220 acres of industrial land along the Connecticut River with new parks, community spaces, restaurants, retail and multifamily development. 

Middletown has already spent more than $75 million decommissioning its sewage treatment plant, buying properties and repairing a shuttered riverside restaurant building.

In addition, the State Bond Commission approved $10 million to support demolition and soil cleanup of the former Anaconda American Brass site in Waterbury, $1.2 million for Hartford’s Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association’s rehabilitation of the shuttered Aetna Diner and $1.5 million for Hartford’s Colt Gateway to obtain a low-interest loan supporting a $6.7-million conversion of commercial space in the development into 45 apartments.   

Also, Hartford will receive $1.1 million to support renovating 681 Wethersfield Ave. into a year-round food truck court.

The commission further approved $4.5 million for planning grants to the The North Hartford Collaborative and a $3.75 million low interest loan for Hartford’s Sheldon Oak Central Inc.’s 155-unit, mixed-income reconstruction of the Martin Luther King affordable housing complex.

The commission approved money for several projects overseen by Capital Region Development Authority, including $1.5 million for repairs at Rentschler Field and the Connecticut Convention Center, another $5 million for repairs to its parking garages in Hartford and $2 million more for environmental monitoring and repairs to the Front Street District. In addition, CRDA is set to receive another $500,000 for improvements at the Connecticut Regional Market in Hartford.

$10 million approved for Freight Street redevelopment


WATERBURY – The State Bond Commission and Gov. Ned Lamont approved $10 million Thursday for the Freight Street Corridor Redevelopment Project.

The funding is part of more than $14 million that will be used for economic development, infrastructure and city schools.

The city will receive $10 million signed off by the board of the Community Investment Fund 2030, a five-year grant program, and has matched $5 million toward projects that include demolition and remediation of about 20 acres across 130 Freight St., 170 Freight St. and 000 West Main St. in the west end.

“The money will be used to demolish 170 Freight St. and clean up the rest of the site,” said Thomas Hyde, interim director of Waterbury Development Corp. “Additional environmental investigations need to be done at the site to find out what can or cannot be built there.”

A demolition firm already is under contract tearing down and removing tanks at 000 West Main St., and Tighe and Bond is conducting a hazardous building material survey, the prep work to raze the building.

The former Anaconda American Brass Co. on Freight Street in Waterbury. The State Bond Commission and Gov. Ned Lamont approved $10 million Thursday for the Freight Street Corridor Redevelopment Project. Jim Shannon Republican-American

The long-term goal is to encourage mixed-use, transit-oriented development in the blighted, underused area and complement improvements to the Waterbury Branch Line’s downtown Metro-North railroad station.

“The city is matching $5 million, which we’ve already put toward the demolition of 130 Freight St. and environmental remediation there as well,” Mayor Neil M. O’Leary said.

The city also will use $2.8 million to revamp the intersection at Washington Street, Washington Avenue and South Main Street, O’Leary said. The city owns the properties at 835 and 777 South Main St.

“We’re going to lop off a portion of that property so when you come down Washington, it will continue straight,” the mayor said. “We’ll move the road over. It will align the intersection so there will be less traffic and congestion.”

The grant includes $1.2 million to fund school improvements at Crosby High School, Wilby High School, Kennedy High School, Wallace Middle School and North End Middle School. The upgrades will promote health, safety and learning, while addressing structural issues to buildings and their properties.

Goals for the redevelopment project include adding jobs and extending Waterbury’s downtown.

State Sen. Joan V. Hartley applauded Lamont and the State Bond Commission’s approval of the funding.

“The approval of these funds for revitalizing the Freight Street district opens the path for hundreds of mixed-use and commercial jobs in an abandoned industrial area that is ready for a prosperous return,” Hartley said.

Hyde added, “We’re very thankful to the state for selecting our project. We’re really excited at the prospect of cleaning up a 20-acre site that has real potential to make a change in downtown Waterbury.”

North Stamford residents can't fix their broken septic systems. It'll cost at least $8M for sewers. 

Brianna Gurciullo

STAMFORD — When he moved to the neighborhood around Perna Lane in 2004, Michael Lepeltier said he was told: “The sewers were coming. The sewers were coming.”

In fall 2023, the city’s Water Pollution Control Authority hopes construction will finally begin to bring sewer service to the area. The Board of Finance this week approved a $1.88 million appropriation to move the project forward.

Lepeltier and other residents voiced their support for the project during a virtual board meeting Wednesday night.

Septic systems are used across North Stamford. But on streets in the Perna Lane area, which is near the Rippowam River, some aging septic systems cannot be replaced with new, up-to-code systems because the lots are so small, said Brian Teitelbaum, who has advocated for the sewer project. 

Martina Teply said she tried to sell her home several years ago, but a potential buyer backed away because of the property’s failing septic system.

“This is something we need desperately,” said another resident, Nick Tamburro.

“It is hard to believe that, in the year 2022, we have people living in Stamford that are forced to be exposed to the wretched smell, the health risks of the constant sewage in their yards,” said Maria Venneri. 

The first phase of the project, which includes properties mostly east of High Ridge Road from the Merritt Parkway to Perna Lane, is estimated to cost about $8.1 million. City boards previously authorized the WPCA to spend more than $6 million on the project. 

“We really won’t know the exact cost of what it will be until the bids come in, obviously,” said Ann Brown, the WPCA’s supervising engineer.

The WPCA, like the city, issues bonds for capital projects. However, while the city issues tax-exempt bonds, the WPCA issues revenue bonds, said Lauren Meyer, a special assistant to Mayor Caroline Simmons. 

“Revenue bonds are bonds that are supported by fees charged by the WPCA,” Meyer said. “They are not bonds supported by the taxpayers — but by the users of the WPCA’s services.  Because they have a specific source of funds identified to pay the bonds (not the full faith and credit of the municipality like taxes) they have more risk associated with them and typically they pay a higher rate of interest.”

The WPCA will impose “benefit assessments” on the property owners to pay for 40 percent of the sewer-related costs of the project, as required under Stamford’s ordinances. The owners will be able to pay the assessments over 15 years, and what they owe will depend on how many bathrooms are in their homes.  

The average cost per property was recently estimated at $21,700.

Republican Board of Finance member Dennis Mahoney, who previously represented part of North Stamford on the Board of Representatives, urged WPCA officials to give the residents a “clear, unambiguous understanding of what their cost exposure is going to be” since they heard lower assessment estimates in the past. He noted that residents will also face a connection cost. 

Brown said the WPCA plans to hold an informational meeting for residents in January. 

Past bids for the work “came in very high,” she said. The WPCA received a single bid of $14 million in 2018 and 2019, according to a presentation shared with the Board of Finance.

“​​We did talk to some contractors, who said the project was designed so that the sewers were very deep to pick up the homes, the basements,” Brown said. “So in some areas, the sewers were 10 feet deep, and in other areas, such as on High Ride Road, the sewers were like 23 feet deep, and it put them into rock. ... So that’s what drove the cost up.”

Brown said the WPCA “put the project on hold” after COVID-19 hit and the agency received a mixed response from residents who responded to surveys. The agency’s board later decided to proceed after two-thirds of the property owners in the project area signed a petition in support, according to meeting minutes. 

“We asked our consultants to once again look at this since we’re moving ahead,” Brown said. “We asked them to see if they could raise the sewers out of the depth that they were at ... so that the construction would be a little easier, the cost would be a little less. They were able to do that by servicing the first floors of the homes,” instead of their basements.

The second phase of the project extends to Scofieldtown Road. The third phase includes properties around Redmont Road. Board of Finance Chair Richard Freedman, a Democrat, said he wouldn’t support the third phase, where all of the properties appear to be able to replace their septic systems. 

Torrington City Council hires contractor for East Main sidewalk project

Emily M. Olson

TORRINGTON — The city's expansive plan to replace or add sidewalks along the East Main Street corridor took a step forward this week when the City Council awarded a bid to Costa & Son LLC, based in South Windsor, for $768,625.80.

Paul Kundzins, deputy director of Public Works, and engineer Mark Austin developed and presented the sidewalk plan in April.  The project will include new sidewalks along the north side of Route 202/East Main Street, from Fern Drive easterly to Torringford West Street, totaling approximately 4,600 feet. T

The proposed improvements include traffic signal modifications, installation of ADA-compliant concrete sidewalks and sidewalks ramps, granite curbing, pavement markings and replacement of catch basin tops.

The project is fully funded under the Responsible Growth and Transit-Oriented Development (RG/TOD) Planning Grant Program from the state Department of Transportation. 

City Economic Development Director Rista Malanca applied for and received a grant for $1.997 million for the project. 

Phase 1 ends at Cumberland Farms at the top of the hill, across the street from BJ’s and Jimmy’s Store.

Phase 2 begins from BJs and replaces sidewalks along an auto dealership property on the south side of the road, and continuing up the hill toward WalMart and McDonald’s.

For the first phase, the signal at Charles Street will be upgraded to include a pedestrian crosswalk, as well as a “pedestrian refuge pad” or area that allows people on foot to stand in a safe place before crossing the street. A pushbutton station will also be installed for the signal, requiring vehicles to stop and allowing pedestrians to cross safely.

Several other signals also are being upgraded along the roadway, with the same type of standing area and traffic signals for pedestrians, Kundzins said.

Some areas have slopes or grades that may require more work to avoid crossing into private property, Kundzins said, such as an area between Arlene and Bishop streets where a slope runs along the edge of East Main Street rather than flat ground. All of the work in this section is possible, remaining in the DOT’s right of way, and the project will not go onto private property, he said. 

Torrington conducted public input studies and forums on the sidewalk plan in 2021, inviting residents and business owners to participate. The plan was developed using that input, focusing on problem areas for pedestrians and traffic, officials said.

City, regional officials plan to connect Meriden trails to Middletown

Mary Ellen Godin

MERIDEN — Regional and local officials continue putting together plans to connect the city’s existing paved trail system from downtown Meriden for bicyclists and walkers through Giuffrida Park and into Middletown. 

The Meriden segment is part of a larger effort called the Central Connecticut Loop Trail connector that runs from the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire through Meriden, Portland and East Hampton to join up with the Air Line Trail that runs from Bolton to Hartford and then back to the Farmington Canal Trail.

Supporters believe the trail will be a strong attraction for cyclists from in and out of the state. Because it passes by rail stations in Meriden and Hartford, it would encourage transportation by bicycle and train.

At a September meeting, engineers and consultants said the Meriden Phase II plan calls for the linear trail to be connected at Brookside Park using an old rail line that travels from the park to Broad Street. A signal light at Atkins Street will provide access to the continued rail line on the eastern side of Broad Street. 

The city is currently working on properties on Hanover Road to realign Harbor Brook to reduce flooding. The work will yield an extension of the linear trail along Hanover to the Meriden Green. Forging a trail from the northern part of the Green to Brookside Park is still in the works, city officials said.

The rail line trail across Broad Street will travel to Bee Street where it will cross and continue along Westfield Road. A 10- to 15-foot-wide path will be constructed to get to the entrance to Giuffrida Park. 

Engineers and consultants noted the steep climb to the park entrance and said the path can be meandered some to reduce the grade for pedestrians and cyclists. Another paved portion at the rear of the Bradley Hubbard Dam will bring the trail to the Blue Ridge Trail system where it will cross into Middletown. 

The South Central Region Council of Governments commissioned the study at $108,000 to open up transportation options in open space areas in Connecticut. The entire project will encompass 111 miles.  

“The step we’re in right now, is we’re performing a study,” said Emile Pierides, associate city engineer. “SCRCOG gave us a grant to fill in the gap from Cheshire to Middletown. The trail under construction now is for the Harbor Brook portion to the Meriden Green. This study is just for the section from Brookside Park to Middletown.”

The trail planners could not follow the entire rail bed beyond Bee Street because it leads to the Suzio York Hill quarry, cuts through significant wetlands and personal properties that would have to be settled first, planners said. 

View the trail presentation deck.

They determined the best alignment would travel along Bee Street to Westfied and into Giufridda Park. The trail would be 10-15 feet wide alongside the existing sidewalk.  

The city owns much of the property on Westfield Drive to Hunters Golf Course and the park entrance.

“The end of the (park) driveway is where it gets really steep,” Pierides said. “We don’t have to follow the driveway into the park. We can make the trail make a more gradual slope so you maintain a steady grade.” 

The part that engineers want to pave is an upper trail along the western side of the park. The western most trail is basically a gravel road used infrequently by the city and Eversource, which has a power line easement in the area.

There appears to be some confusion among the public about exactly what will be paved.

“Once there (at the parking lot) there are multiple trails,” Pierides said. “The western most trail is basically a gravel road. That isn’t the trail. It’s an upper trail to the west. It’s fairly flat and it’s gravel and 10 to 15 feet already. Makes a lot of sense to have the trail on that. It’s not on the water until we get to the back section of the lake and combines with the trail that goes around the reservoir for a short period.”   

Once beyond the lake, it meets the Blue Ridge Trail into Middletown. City engineers have met with Middletown and SCRCOG officials several times to determine where Middletown can pick up the trail in its city. 

Study authors are accepting public comments about the proposed trail and have received mainly positive comments, although some people are averse to paving the trail around the reservoir.

“I am opposed to paving the trail right along the lake side of the lake at Giuffrida Park (or removing the trees so that any trail further away would have a clear view of the lake),” Lisa Davis, a member of the Meriden Land Trust Board of Directors, stated in an email. “The walk along the lake under the trees that were planted by the WPA, clamoring over the roots ... standing amongst the trees, maybe fishing or walking a dog is a classic feature of Meriden.”

Davis said she is speaking for herself and not the group. She understands the need for access for those with disabilities. “However, not all locations can be adapted without causing major disruptions.”

Other people expressed positive views about the project and think it will help more residents explore open spaces in the city and elsewhere.

“I was totally against paving the Red Bridge Trail,” Michael Hoffman stated on social media. “It was a great trail for hiking and easy mountain biking. But after seeing it get so much use and so many people enjoying it, I changed my mind. If it gets more people out of the house and outdoors, I think it’s worth it as long as enough undeveloped trails remain.”

The study authors are still gathering public comments about the proposal and expect a full report to be completed in January.

For more details on the September presentation and to leave a comment, please go online and visit: https://www.meridenct.gov/announcements/central-ct-loop-trail-connection-study/

Stonington to repair South Anguilla Road bridge

Carrie Czerwinski

Stonington — The Board of Finance on Wednesday awarded a $338,445 bid to Suchocki & Sons, Inc. of Preston to repair the South Anguilla Road Bridge.

The five bids for the work ranged from $322,334 to $396,000, with the low bid coming from Old Colony Construction of Clinton.

After the bids were reviewed and reference checks were completed by consultant WMC Engineers of Newington, the bid was awarded to the second lowest bidder, explained Town Engineer Christopher Greenlaw.

In a memo to the board, Greenlaw wrote that Old Colony Construction, “has a performance history of extended project timelines and schedules that would drive increases for construction, admin[istration], and inspection at a minimum.”

He also said the town’s bid documents state that it reserves the right to not select the lowest bid.

In a report compiled by WMC, Old Colony was reported to have the necessary experience and that the references provided by the company all confirmed that the company’s work was of acceptable quality.

“All references agreed that the projects all took longer to complete and were behind schedule for various reasons, some legitimate, but many not in their opinion. For one project, originally scheduled to be completed in one year, the project has taken over two years. This required additional time and costs for construction administration and inspection,” the report stated.

Jay Costello, co-owner of WMC, told the board he called multiple municipalities that had undertaken similar bridge work in the past four to five years. Of the five municipalities that returned his calls, a number of issues that would drive up costs were reported, including a large number of change orders, higher than typical administrative costs and numerous Requests For Information.

Old Colony Managing Member Michelle Murano Neri pushed back against the claims, initially presented at the Dec. 1 Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

In a December 2 email she wrote, “OCC takes exception to their (WMC) comments found in the meeting minutes,” and added that the company takes pride in the quality of its work and has done work for the town in the past which resulted in a recommendation for future projects.

Board Member Michael Fauerbach asked Greenlaw if he had confirmed any of the claims in the WMC report, and Greenlaw said he had spoken with a municipality and corroborated the information.

The work Suchocki & Sons will perform includes milling and repaving the road, building new guide walls and installing new guide rails which will extend onto the shoulder before and after the bridge.

Additionally, a membrane will be laid under the new roadway to keep road salt and water from getting into cracks and crevices in the concrete substructure where it can cause deterioration, which Greenlaw said will help extend the life of the bridge by another 20 to 25 years.

“Although this is one of our better bridges overall, like anything else, it’s a 1940’s bridge. We want to try to get 75 to 100 years out of our bridges,” he said, adding that spending the money to repair and protect the bridge now, will save money in the long run.

Design plans call for one-way alternating traffic on the bridge during construction, but there will be some parts of the project which will require closing the bridge and using a detour. Installing the protective membrane may see the bridge closed for two weeks. Greenlaw said during other portions of the project, he hopes detours will only be during work hours, allowing the bridge to be reopened at night.

Greenlaw said the work, which could take up to four months, should begin by March 15.

“We want to spend our capital funds as best we can within the appropriate year. We’d like this work to commence as soon as possible,” he said.

Litchfield to study overhaul cost for old school


LITCHFIELD – The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday authorized seeking architectural and engineering firms to study the former Bantam School and determine how much it would cost to overhaul the 70-year-old building for continued municipal use.

A request for proposals written earlier in the year by the town facilities review committee will be sharpened by public works Director Raz Alexe and issued, selectmen decided.

Proposals would show how much an architectural and engineering study of the building that was designed by famed modernist architect Marcel Breuer would cost. Preliminary estimates have ranged from $100,000 to $500,000.

“Let’s put it out there and see what it takes,” Selectman Jonathan Torrant said. “But if it comes back at $500,000, forget about it.”

The committee, in its final report to the selectmen in the spring, recommended an extensive renovation of the former school after two years of discussion and study.

Committee Chairman Samuel Olmstead, who presented the report to the board, said a complete overhaul of the building could cost up to $10 million. The cost, however, could be spread over a number of years because the layout of the one-story building would allow for a renovation to be carried out in phases, Olmstead said.

His same presentation to the Board of Finance last month was met with concern because it has yet to be determined how the building would be used beyond its current use by a handful of town offices and the Bantam post office.

“They were leery without seeing a plan in place for a project with an anticipated cost of $10 million,” First Selectman Denise Raap said of the finance board.

Selectman Jeffrey Zullo, who serves on the review committee, said the time for a detailed study of the building has come.

“I believe we need to see what architectural and engineering firms would be interested in working on this,” Zullo said. “I hope it doesn’t cost the $300,000 to $500,000 that has been mentioned.”

The town has waited long enough to address the future of the building, Zullo added.

“We can’t keep kicking the can down the road,” he said. “We need to scope it out so we can make some decisions as a town.”

The $10 million overhaul estimate, Torrant said, is appalling and would never be approved by voters.

In 2018, voters in a referendum rejected a proposal to give the former school to Litchfield Housing Trust, which would have turned it into an affordable housing community.

Raap said she wouldn’t rule out another proposal for affordable housing, provided the town maintains ownership of the property.

According to the review committee, a $10 million renovation would be feasible because in 2024-25 the town will pay off $24 million borrowed for a school expansion and renovation project completed in 2009. A tax increase would not be required for the renovation, according to the committee.