CT Construction Digest Monday June 29, 2020
NEW MILFORD — Library and town officials celebrated the start of the library modernization at a groundbreaking Friday afternoon.
Construction on the $8.5 million project is expected to last 18 months, but patrons will still be able to use the library’s services.
The project will create a mix of new spaces and repurposing existing areas to expand program and meeting spaces, especially for children and young adults. It will also make changes so the library is more accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Plainville kicks off new housing project
BRIAN M. JOHNSON
PLAINVILLE – Local leaders and legislators joined construction company By Carrier Friday, for a shovel dig ceremony at the site of the future Trumbull Meadows, a new home community.
Gayle Dennehy, broker of By Carrier Realty, pointed out that the company has constructed 300 to 400 homes in town.
“The location was very advantageous, with easy access to the highway,” she said. “We’re very excited about it.”
Sen. Henri Martin said that he grew up in a construction family and that he too was excited about the project.
“The adrenaline kicks in whenever I see construction vehicles moving earth,” he said. “This is a big undertaking and hopefully the demand is there once it is completed.”
Rep. Bill Petit also attended the shovel dig ceremony with his son William, who, like many children was excited by the sight of construction vehicles. He was quick to don a hardhat and put his shovel into the ground to help the adults.
Town Council Chair Kathy Pugliese said that By Carrier has “done a marvelous job” with past projects in town. She said that this parcel had been available for a long time and now was finally going to be repurposed.
“They are wonderful to work with and have been very involved in town,” said Pugliese. “They have a reputation for producing a perfect product.”
Town Manager Robert E. Lee said that it is “always good to see growth in the community.”
“By Carrier always builds quality projects,” he said. “This also allowed the town to pick up a significant amount of open space near the middle school.”
By Carrier will see 77 units built by the end of the year.
More information about this new Trumbull Meadows community will be announced this summer.
MAYOR'S COLUMN: New Britain staying busy with number of improvement projects
As we head into the busy summer construction season, I thought it would be an ideal time to get you up to up to speed on all of the projects taking place over the next several months. COVID has not stopped our public works construction schedule.
Work is also underway on Phase VII of the Complete Streets Masterplan, which includes the area around Columbus Boulevard near the Harry Truman overpass, the north side of Chestnut Street, between Elm Street and Columbus Boulevard and on Herald Square. The improvements are similar to Phase VI, with new granite curbing, paver sidewalks, paving, new signage and new trees.
The 2020 milling and paving program will begin July 12, with $2.2 million set aside for roadwork. Several streets including Columbus Boulevard, Kensington Avenue, Lincoln Street, Kelsey Street, Beaver Street, West Street and Shuttle Meadow Avenue will be paved. In all, 32 City streets, for a combined 7.7 miles, will be repaved by the end of the summer. Milling will begin July 12 and paving will start July 19, with the program running between six and eight weeks. Once the project begins, daily updates will be posted on our website www.newbritainct.gov under the public works section. Public works will also be doing crack sealing and trench repairs.
You may have noticed that there is a new traffic light at the intersection of Main Street and Lafayette Street, along with the replacement of some deteriorated walkways on Lafayette Street. The project was initiated to address pedestrian safety and congestion issues at this location. This intersection has had the most motor vehicle versus pedestrian incidents in the City and needed to be addressed.
At Stanley Quarter Park, work just wrapped up on the new playscape, walking path, pavilion and basketball courts. Public works also put in place a new entrance along Stanley Street. More work is to come as we work now on the pond dredging project and then we will be able to pave that bumpy park road! We will also be replacing the exercise equipment thanks to a grant from the health department.
Don’t forget to visit the new playground at A.W. Stanley Park down the road as well - thanks to a special donation from the Stanley Park Trust fund.
As you may have seen at our parks, we have updated our signage to create uniformity throughout the City. These signs are similar to the ones you’ll see at our schools. SignPro, Inc. did a fantastic job crafting these to match all of our original wayfinding signs seen all across town.
FYI: Funding is still available for homeowners interested in repairing the sidewalk in front of their property. This is a matching program and funding is limited. You can find out more information by contacting the Public Works Department at 860-826-3350.
Despite the challenging circumstances of the times, we are moving ahead with plenty of projects that will benefit both residents and business. We must continue to invest in our own City. As I have said before, developers are attracted to cities who are investing in themselves. It also creates for a better place for us all to live. We deserve the best New Britain, and our infrastructure improvements lead the way. Erin Stewart is the mayor of New Britain.
Newington on track to complete near $30 million renovation to town hall, community center
NEWINGTON – The town is on track to complete its $28.8 million renovation to Town Hall and the Community Center this July.
“We’re coming to the end of the road here; within the next month or so we should be moving into the new facility,” Chapman told councilors at their last meeting in June. “We’re still within budget and we look to be in good shape.”
Furniture to outfit department offices in the new building is on order; ceiling tiles are being installed and painting is ongoing. Landscaping of the property’s exterior is also being completed.
“A lot of offices are starting to pack up boxes to prepare for the move,” Mayor Beth DelBuono said of an observation she made on a recent visit to the existing town hall.
Located at 131 Cedar St., the old building is expected to be demolished by the end of 2020. The new address for Newington Town Hall and Community Center will be 200 Garfield St., the mayor indicated. Other facilities on the town’s main campus will also have new addresses later on this year: the Lucy Robbins Welles Library; 100 Garfield St., and the Newington Police Department, 300 Garfield St.
The original facility was built to face Cedar Street, but the former driveway has since been closed to thru traffic and Mazzoccoli Way, reconfigured.
Since town offices will be outfitted with new furniture, staff is still trying to decide what to do with the old furniture.
“The cost of moving the furniture is not worth the sale price for it,” the town manager said. “We’re trying to get rid of as much material as we can to those who need it the most.”
Donations have already benefitted the Newington Children’s Theatre Company, among other community groups.
Councilors have been meeting virtually since early April, working from their home offices and using digital meeting platforms for call-in public participation. Resident John Bachand called into their recent meeting to ask the body to consider a return to town hall since the governor is now allowing indoor gatherings with social-distancing.
“In response to John’s request for in-person meetings in the town hall building…I ask that we give it some consideration for what would actually be the last town council meeting in that building,” councilor Chris Miner said, suggesting the auditorium be used. “I think it would be a very nice thing to do, to get back in the building one last time and also meet in person again.”
Chapman told councilors he would consider one final meeting there this July, before the move takes place.
“I just want to make sure we stay safe,” he said. “Let me talk with the health director to figure it out.”
Mayor DelBuono asked that the option to participate virtually is provided to councilors or others as an alternative.
Submarine base embarks on latest energy project
The Naval Submarine Base has embarked on another project that according to commanding officer Capt. Todd Moore "will ensure reliable, cost-effective, and uninterrupted electric power" to support the base's dual mission of deploying combat-ready submarines and crews and training professional submariners.
Officials on Friday marked the start of construction of a 10.75 megawatt combined heat and power system to be installed at the base’s power plant, replacing the current system that has reached the end of its service life. In addition to generating electrical power, the new system will generate steam heat for “mission-critical" waterfront operations and training buildings.
The work is being performed through a 21-year, $169.3 million energy savings performance contract between the Navy and NORESCO, one of the largest energy services companies in the U.S.
The project increases energy efficiency on base through improved building heating and ventilation systems, efficient building lighting improvements and steam system improvements, achieving an average of about $10 million in annual energy savings, Moore said.
Energy expenses are the single largest cost for Navy installations, making up about 28% of installations' operating budgets. The cost savings anticipated through the contract can be used to support operations and improve the tactical performance of forces, Moore said.
He said the project also readies the base for a new, cybersecure microgrid, which will allow the base to generate its own electricity and will provide automated data gathering and precise peak demand control, but also allow the base to seamlessly disconnect from the utility grid and efficiently redirect power to areas where it is most needed.
Bob Ross, executive director of the state’s Office of Military Affairs, pointed out at Friday’s event that the site of the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new combined heat and power system was the same spot where on Sept 24, 2009, officials gathered to announce the first state-funded investment in the base: $7.65 million to support the construction a new Diver Support Facility at the base as well as modernizing a boiler at the base's power plant.
The state did not contribute to this project but since 2009 has invested in other projects to enhance the value of the base to prevent it from being targeted for closure or downsizing.
"The base looks so much different today than it did 11 years ago," Ross said. "A lot has changed in the world since we started. We're now talking about sea level rise, microgrids and resilient power. No one was talking about those things 11 years ago. It's nice to be in a place that's ready to respond as they become priorities in national defense."
Killingly Community Center’s fate in limbo as issues mount
KILLINGLY – When one of the heaters recently stopped working in the Killingly Community Center’s gym, facility employees did an internet search in hopes of finding a replacement part.
“But the only place that showed up as having the part was an antiques museum, in the Midwest,” Recreation Director Tracy Mason said.
A lack of easily obtained replacement parts for needed repairs is just one issue plaguing the Broad Street center in Danielson, a building whose fate has been in limbo for years with no immediate solutions in sight.
The Town Council in March declined to move forward with a $16 million bonding proposal that, if approved by residents, would have shifted programming to the town’s former high school on Westfield Avenue and made any repair issues at the Broad Street site moot.
Town Manager Mary Calorio said council members were leery of approving two large bonding packages – the council eventually approved a $16 million Killingly Memorial School upgrade plan – in the same year.
“The idea is to bring the issue back up in a year or two,” she said. “But more than half of that community center bonding was to make improvements to the Westfield building’s roof, security, windows and other items that need to get done before it can be used for recreation. The estimates are the price of that work will increase 5% every year going forward. So, what was a $16 million bond will likely be $17 million next year and close to $18 million the year after.”
In an attempt to keep the current facility running, Calorio proposed including $100,000 in the 2020-21 budget for an engineering and evaluation study aimed at pinpointing what work would be needed to keep the center’s doors open, at least for the next few years.
“That money did not survive the budget process,” she said. “Instead, $50,000 was directed to be taken out of the town’s contingency fund for any emergency repairs that might need to be handled this year.”
The center, built in the mid-1900s, still has most of its original, single-paned windows whose lack of efficiency forces employees to plug gaps with towels and blankets in the winter. Many of the facility’s rooms with high ceilings are cooled – poorly – by window-mounted air-conditioning units, and a cooling system dedicated to the theater area is on its last legs.
“Without air-conditioning in that theater, it’ll be very uncomfortable for people to keep using that space, which is used for productions and senior movies,” Mason said. “We’ll continue to work with what we’ve been dealt, but at some point we may have to modify or scale-back our programming here.”
Conversations on how to best address the center have cropped up frequently in the last decade, though without any hard movement.
A November 2018 feasibility study found several issues plaguing the Broad Street site, including a building “not adequate for large events and fully scheduled times.” The center’s infrastructure was judged to be in sound condition, though its original incarnation as a former school means its floor plan largely consists of utility and small storage rooms rather than program-friendly spaces.
The center’s gym was deemed undersized and not handicap-accessible, while security features needed upgrades and jumping and other impacts cause continual vibration problems.
The study offered several suggestions, including a $27 million build-as-new option complete with indoor soccer fields that received a lukewarm reception from officials. A $21.3 million plan to renovate the current center was also offered.
Council members in January 2019 approved exploring a $7-9 million upgrade plan – one that ultimately fizzled - that also called for making bare-bones repairs to the Broad Street building that offers space to the Retired Seniors and Volunteer Program overseen by the Thames Valley Council for Community Action and the Danielson Veterans Coffeehouse group.
Several council members previously said they hoped to use anticipated money from a community development benefit agreement with power plant developer NTE to cover some center upgrades, though no firm discussions have been held on what portion of that $4 million might be drawn on.
“The issues at the center aren’t going to improve in the coming years,” Calorio said. “So right now we need to decide what we need to do to keep those doors open, understanding that no one wants to heavily invest in a building we might eventually stop using.”