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CT Construction Digest Monday November 21, 2022

Trade groups discuss apprenticeships at Meriden training center event

Mary Ellen

MERIDEN — Chloe Jackson of East Hampton was 30 years old when she realized she didn’t want a job sitting at a desk eight or nine hours a day.

The communications arts major wanted to be up and using her hands. 

“I changed course,” Jackson said. “I wanted to be a welder. It made me happy to create all those sparks.”

Jackson is a third-year apprentice training at the UA Local 777 training facility on Murdock Avenue and working at her trade for a New Haven company. She’s glad to get the experience and is confident she made the right career choice, she said.

Jackson and other apprentices shared their experiences at a press conference Friday hosted by the Connecticut State Building & Construction Trades Council to bring awareness to unions’ extensive apprenticeship programs. About 100 people attended the event, including contractors, union officials, and state and federal lawmakers. 

Affiliates of the CT Building Trades provide 17 joint apprenticeship training programs to allow workers a pathway to career and financial stability. Union apprenticeships are paid, and graduates finish their programs without any debt. The programs, which include welding, HVAC, plumbing and pipefitting, are entirely run by their respective unions and at no cost to taxpayers, union officials said. 

Buell French, of Hartford, another third-year apprentice, was part of a program offered by the Building Trades Training Institute that conducts outreach in underserved minority and ex-offender communities. French is now an operating engineer in the construction trade, with a pension and health care benefits.

“Growing up, I made some bad decisions,” French told the crowd. “I had no trade, no certificate. Then I was offered a training course. I was blown away by the countless hours and the machinery. But today, I’m on pace to make more than I’ve ever made in my lifetime. I’m a working class citizen, a taxpayer. I just closed on my first house.”

The unions spend $21 million of self-funding to train thousands of workers annually, said business manager Michael Rosario. The council took in 60 new apprentices last week and more women are in training than ever before. About 3,400 employers employ 4,500 apprentices, said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz. 

“This is an incredible opportunity for us in Connecticut,” Bysiewicz said. “We are set to replace 60,000 people in manufacturing and construction fields alone. We need more women involved so they can be part of this national movement. These are great paying jobs.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, sits on the Armed Services Committee where decisions about government contracts are made. When making the case for Connecticut companies such as Electric Boat or Sikorsky, Blumenthal is often asked “Are you going to have the people with the right skills?” Blumenthal told the crowd.

He also shared details about a new program called Helmets to Hardhats, which offers outreach services to returning and active military personnel to prepare them in the private sector. 

“Building trades are essential to our national security,” Blumenthal said. “We need to do so much more to reach out to them.”

Manager at CT State Pier recommended itself for $87M in contracts

Andrew Brown

The company hired to oversee the redevelopment of the State Pier in New London recommended itself for tens of millions of dollars in subcontracts under the project, even in some cases where another construction firm submitted a lower-priced bid to the state.

That arrangement is now drawing criticism from a few state lawmakers who are concerned about the potential for a conflict of interest.

Public records show the Connecticut Port Authority selected Kiewit Corporation to serve as the construction manager on the multimillion-dollar infrastructure project, which is expected to operate as a launching point for offshore wind turbines.

That position gave Kiewit the authority to sort through bids from various subcontractors and to make recommendations about which construction companies should build portions of the new pier.

At the same time, Port Authority leaders gave Kiewit the ability to submit bids of its own and to compete with other businesses to perform the physical work on the project.

That setup, which is prohibited under Connecticut law for many state-funded building projects, placed Kiewit in an influential position: The company got to develop the criteria and rules for each subcontract. And it helped judge the offers submitted by its competitors.

According to records from the Port Authority, Kiewit captured a large portion of the money being spent on the State Pier project, which has become the focus of a federal investigation and has seen its budget balloon from an estimated $93 million to more than $255 million.

Kiewit, which is headquartered in Nebraska, is being paid millions of dollars to serve as the construction manager — responsible for reviewing the building designs, developing the construction schedule, controlling the overall project cost and supervising all of the work at the State Pier.

And the company has also recommended itself for at least five subcontracts under the project, which are worth roughly $87.8 million. It won five of the six contracts for which it submitted bids, according to records from the project.

The Port Authority selected Kiewit to do everything from installing new electrical lines, building new drainage systemsdemolishing the old pier and driving new steel pilings into the edge of the Thames River.

But some lawmakers are now questioning whether it was appropriate for the Port Authority to give one company that amount of influence over a taxpayer-funded infrastructure project.

Sen. Paul Formica, a Republican who represents the district where the new pier is being built, argued it was a poor business practice to allow Kiewit to both manage the public bidding process and submit offers for work at the site.

“I definitely think there is an opportunity for an extreme conflict of interest here, and it should have been avoided at all cost,” said Formica, who has been a supporter of the redevelopment effort.

Not always the low bidder

Documents obtained by the CT Mirror through a request under the state’s Freedom of Information Act show that Kiewit was the lowest bidder for several of the subcontracts it was awarded.

But not all of them.

In two cases, the records show Kiewit’s bids came in above offers submitted by JT Cleary, a New York-based company that specializes in marine construction.

Yet after reviewing those offers, records show Kiewit employees sought to convince the Port Authority to skip over JT Cleary and to hire their company instead.

In one of those cases, Kiewit pushed state officials to set aside the bid from JT Cleary even after the Port Authority had already voted to award the subcontract to that company.

Emails and other correspondence show Kiewit used its position as the construction manager to meet with state officials, where it critiqued JT Cleary’s offers and persuaded those officials that Kiewit itself was the better choice.

During one such gathering on June 30, 2021, Kiewit staffers made their pitch directly to former state deputy budget director Konstantinos Diamantis, whom Gov. Ned Lamont put in charge of the State Pier project in 2019.

In an email following that meeting, Peter Maglicic, a manager for Kiewit, reiterated why he believed hiring JT Cleary would cost the state more money, despite the company’s bids coming in below Kiewit’s.

Maglicic provided Diamantis and other state officials with two reports that Kiewit employees created. Those reports picked holes in JT Cleary’s bids and predicted the work would cost roughly $6.2 million more than the New York-based company had quoted the state.

“We continue to believe that Kiewit offers the best value to the CPA on these two packages,” Maglicic told Diamantis. “The equipment required to perform this work has already been sourced, putting us in a position for expeditious mobilization.”

Maglicic also complained that JT Cleary was holding up negotiations over the subcontract that had already been awarded to the company. Those negotiations, he claimed, could affect the tight construction schedule for the State Pier.

But that’s not how JT Cleary interpreted the situation. In an email, Alfonso Perez, the president for JT Cleary, argued Kiewit was unfairly setting aside his company’s bid to build one of the retaining walls at the new pier.

“It is unfortunate news that the Combi Wall project will not be awarded to the apparent low bidder, without explanation nor cause,” Perez wrote.

Perez, who declined to comment for this story, accused Kiewit in the email of stifling the negotiations with his company, and he announced that he was withdrawing both of his company’s bids as a result.

Managing the manager

It’s unclear from the records if Diamantis, who stepped down from his posts in state government in late 2021 amid multiple investigations into his conduct, responded to the bid dispute and Kiewit’s recommendations.

Diamantis told the CT Mirror that any questions regarding Kiewit’s subcontracts would be better directed to David Kooris, the chairman of the state Port Authority, and his fellow board members.

The records show that the Port Authority and AECOM, another consulting firm hired to advise state officials on the pier project, eventually signed off on Kiewit’s recommendations.

Those decisions allowed Kiewit to win two of the larger subcontracts for the project, which are worth at least $47.7 million.

Prior to approving those deals, several members of the Port Authority noted how Kiewit was participating in the same bidding process it controlled.

One of the board members also recognized the large number of subcontracts that Kiewit was being awarded as part of the redevelopment of the State Pier.

“I see that Kiewit is getting a lot of these major contracts,” Thomas Patton, a board member, said during the meeting on July 13, 2021. “Are we getting the benefit of them, with mobilization or other on-site matters, because of the volume of work that they are getting?”

The Port Authority’s leaders did not raise any concerns about Kiewit advising the state on subcontracts from which the company stood to profit.

The CT Mirror provided the Port Authority records to the governor’s office, but Lamont, through his staff, declined to answer questions about whether he thought it was appropriate for Kiewit to recommend itself for the state contracts.

Kooris and other officials with the Port Authority told the CT Mirror that Kiewit’s recommendations on the subcontracts did not present a conflict because AECOM also reviewed the bids and made the same recommendation to the board.

AECOM was there, they said, to look over Kiewit’s shoulder and scrutinize its work.

Marlin Peterson, AECOM’s leader on the state pier project, said his company made sure that Kiewit submitted its bids before reviewing the offers from other contractors. And he said AECOM’s recommendations on which firms to hire were made independently of Kiewit.

Teresa Shada, a spokeswoman for Kiewit, told the CT Mirror that her company followed all of the required bidding procedures for the State Pier. And she said Kiewit was performing its duties as the construction manager when it recommended that the Port Authority reject the two offers from JT Cleary.

“Kiewit’s role is to look at every subcontract and ensure the scope of work from the client aligns with the costs and information that the contractors put in their bid documents,” Shada said. “If our analysis reveals that the low bidder cannot achieve the scope of work based on the costs and numbers it included, or if it excluded certain scope of the work in its bid, we evaluate this along with the next bid, and so on.”

The overall cost of the bid, she said, was only one part of that review.

“We take our role as (construction manager) and reputation as an industry-leading construction contractor very seriously,” she said. “We operate with the highest levels of integrity and ethics — and continue to be focused on helping the CPA deliver the highest-quality project for the region.”

Kiewit, Shada pointed out, was entitled to “self-perform” work at the state pier because of the contract terms created by the state and the Port Authority.

‘Self-performing’ work

The type of contract created for the State Pier work is expressly prohibited for many other state-financed building projects in Connecticut.

A state law, which was passed in 2006, banned construction management firms from submitting a bid on any work they were overseeing as part of the construction or alteration of a state building.

That law, however, does not apply to state-funded highway, aviation or maritime projects, state officials told the CT Mirror.

As a result, officials at the Port Authority chose to give Kiewit the opportunity to demolish and rebuild sections of the pier themselves. That decision was made, they said, in the expectation that it would ultimately save the state money.

When Kiewit was announced as the construction manager for the project, several Port Authority board members celebrated the firm’s size and experience on large construction projects.

At that same Dec. 15, 2020 meeting, Mark Rolfe, a deputy commissioner at the state Department of Transportation, offered a word of caution for his fellow board members: The Port Authority, he said, would need to have proper oversight for Kiewit.

“I will say this. They are a very aggressive contractor. They require active project management,” Rolfe said, according to an audio recording of the meeting.

“If there is an advantage to be gained, they’ll take it,” he added.

John Henshaw, the former executive director of the Port Authority, later explained to board members how Kiewit would be empowered to both manage and construct parts of the project.

But he promised the setup, which was developed in consultation with the state Department of Administrative Services and the state Office of Policy and Management, would not disadvantage other contractors.

Kiewit, Henshaw explained, “is able to bid to self-perform work, but it will be treated the same as any other bidder.”

“The lowest-priced, qualified bidder will get the work,” he told board members.

Connecticut lawmakers, who have monitored the progress on the State Pier project in recent years, are not confident the Port Authority has followed through on that pledge.

Sen. Henri Martin, a Republican who sits on the State Bond Commission, which has approved roughly $178 million for the project, said he is not inherently opposed to Kiewit constructing parts of the pier.

But he is concerned about whether Kiewit’s control over the bids and the negotiations over the subcontracts created an unfair advantage for that company.

“Is the process being done the right way?” Martin asked. “Was JT Cleary treated fairly? If I were them, this would seem suspicious.”

Martin said he may consider asking the State Contracting Standards Board, which has oversight powers for the Port Authority, to open an audit into all of the subcontracts that Kiewit won at the State Pier.

Formica, the Republican senator from New London, argued there wouldn’t be any reason to question the process if Kiewit wasn’t given the authority to recommend itself for subcontracts.

All of it could have been avoided, he said, had the state hired a construction manager for that role and chosen other companies to build the project.

New Britain breaks ground on new, $20 million Public Works Operation Facility

Ciara Hooks

NEW BRITAIN – The city held a groundbreaking for the new Public Works Operations Facility Thursday morning.

“While I hope that none of you need the services of police or fire, you need our services every single day, whether you’re driving down the road, when you turn on your faucet, flush your toilet, that’s Public Works and God help me it’s going to snow pretty soon and we have to clean up that mess too,” said Mark Moriarty, Public Works director We maintain 170 miles of streets, and we have 40,000 trash and recycling bins around the city, but despite the great job that I think that we do, despite how vital we are to the city, I never thought the building of a new facility would get done during my tenure as director.”

The thought process of creating a new Public Works Operation began back in 2014 when the city started their transit oriented development planning process.

“Mark and I have been going back and forth for years on potential locations and we ended up on a great location and I think that’s important that we both understood that there was a dire need for this facility,” Mayor Erin Stewart said. “I’m really pleased with the final location that was settled on because I will never forget the first time I walked into the current Public Works Yard at 55 Harvard Street. The building was pretty old, to be exact, it was built in 1900. I was touring the building and I certainly couldn’t help but notice the deteriorating conditions, the holes in the roof, the sleeping quarters, and the main building was not much better.”

The new Public Works Operations Facility will be located at 665 Alton Brooks Way.

“We’re standing here on the site of the former Pinnacle Heights Housing Projects which was demolished in 2007 to make room for new development,” Stewart said. “It’s difficult to build something new in a city that is 98% developed so every inch of open space that the city owns is an incredibly precious resource that we must think long and hard about how to develop.”

“This project is going to make us be able to perform our functions that we do every single day for residents in the city better and be able to improve the quality of life in the city,” Moriarty added. “It’s also a good move economically because our equipment and our vehicles are going to last a lot longer because they’re going to be under cover. There are so many reasons why this is such a great project.”

On top of the two cold storage buildings on this site for equipment and vehicles totally 25,000 square feet there will be a 4,000 square foot salt shed and fueling station for all of the vehicles as well. The main building will house all Public Works Operations and Maintenance as well as a new maintenance facility for the Fire Department since the Fire Department’s current facility is unable to provide services needed to maintain their fleet.

“Every inch of this project has been carefully designed to ensure that it will allow our department to provide the highest quality of service to our residents,” Stewart said. “It’s going to minimize the need to contract out maintenance work on city vehicles and the salt shed will be large enough to hold the amount of salt that we need to keep our roads safe throughout the entire winter. But most importantly our city staff will finally have the facility they need to perform their jobs at the highest level possible and I hope that it becomes a huge sense of pride for you.”

The contractor for the $20 million project is Millennium Builders Inc.

Stewart is hoping the facility will be done in a year but there is no definitive date as of yet.

“Being a New Britain native and being in charge of New Britain facilities is a dream come true and seeing projects like this really makes me enjoy what I do. As much as I love to maintain 100-year-old-plus buildings with a tight budget, seeing new construction like this really makes my job a little easier and makes me a little bit happier,” said John Delgadillo, Support Services director and project manager. “Mayor Stewart and City Council continue to invest into a wide range of facilities from schools and health departments to now the Public Works Operations Center. These projects continue to increase the quality and range of operations that our city staff can provide where in turn will improve the life of all city residents.”

Norwich school construction project will start with new Stanton, Greeneville schools

Claire Bessette

Norwich ― If all goes according to the plans on paper, a new Greeneville school and a new John B. Stanton School will be constructed first in the $385 million school construction project approved by voters Nov. 8 and should open in January 2026.

The School Building Committee met Tuesday for the first time since the referendum approval and affirmed a proposed construction schedule in the master plan proposed by project architect, Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. of South Windsor.

The multi-phase project is expected to cost city taxpayers $97 million to $149 million, depending on state reimbursement levels. School Building Committee Chairman Mark Bettencourt said he already has been in touch with state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, for support to try to boost the reimbursement rate for Norwich and to help get legislative approval in spring to place the Norwich project on the state’s priority list for reimbursement.

Norwich Comptroller Josh Pothier said Friday the city will seek to bond the initial $9.5 million by Dec. 31, including $7 million for initial costs on the school construction project and another $2.5 million for other city infrastructure projects.

The project calls for four new elementary schools, one at the grounds of the former Greeneville School and three on the grounds of the current Stanton, John Moriarty and Uncas schools. The Teachers’ Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School will be either renovated as new for an estimated $99 million or replaced. That decision has not yet been made.

According to a timeline provided to the Board of Education this week by Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow, the new Stanton and Greeneville schools should open in January 2026, followed by new Moriarty and Uncas schools and the renovated or new Teachers middle school, all set to open in fall of 2028.

Renovations to the current Samuel Huntington School to convert it into the adult education center and a host of administration and district offices is the final phase, scheduled to open in January 2028.

When completed, the school district will be reduced from 14 buildings to eight total buildings, dropping from seven to four elementary schools, keeping the two middle schools, adult education/central offices and the Norwich Transition Academy on Case Street.

Because the new schools will be in areas where school populations are rising, Stringfellow wrote in her report that school bus trips will be shorter, cutting transportation costs.

Stringfellow sent a letter to staff and parents following the referendum win pledging frequent updates and providing a link to the school construction project website, where the master plan documents are posted along with information from the School Building Committee.

During Tuesday’s building committee meeting, city Purchasing Agent Bob Castronova recommended the committee hire an “owner’s representative” to oversee all aspects of construction to ensure the project remains in compliance with state reimbursement regulations. The owner’s representative would help put together the construction bids and oversee the work, Castronova said.

“We want someone who has experience, that has expertise, that has the personnel, that can guide us through,” Castronova said.

Castronova recommended the committee advertise for firms to submit qualifications and then select finalists to submit detailed proposals for the work with fee schedules.

The committee, however, put off any action until city officials can meet with representatives from the state school construction office to ensure the city is taking the right steps to get the project off the ground.

That meeting likely won’t take place until after the holidays, Bettencourt said. The legislative session begins Jan. 4, so the committee will wait until after New Year’s Day to decide its next steps, Bettencourt said.

Hartford officials eye 80 acres of closed trash-burning plant site for redevelopment

Michael Puffer

After decades burning much of Connecticut’s garbage, a massive trash-to-energy plant in Hartford’s South Meadows ceased operations this summer.

Now, Hartford officials hope to see the roughly 80-acre property around the plant used for economic redevelopment. But some worry the decommissioning plan submitted by the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) — the quasi-public agency that runs the plant — will leave behind massive, deteriorating buildings and pollution as roadblocks to redevelopment.

The closure plan MIRA submitted to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) this spring would cart away remaining waste, clean the facility of oils and chemicals and secure the on-site properties. Sprawling industrial buildings would be left in place, as would a long conveyor and other equipment.

“They are looking to just walk away, do the minimum possible and just walk away and leave the burden upon the city,” said Hartford City Council member James Sanchez. “This is a burden the city does not need because we already shoulder plenty of burden for the region.”

MIRA President Thomas Kirk said many people understandably, but mistakenly, conflate decommissioning the plant with preparation for redevelopment. Kirk said the future of the MIRA-owned property along the Connecticut River has not been decided beyond decommissioning the existing plant. The property might be put back into use for the state’s trash-disposal needs, or some other industrial use that could benefit from the existing buildings, he said.

The closure plan is meant to make the plant safe and eliminate any impacts from MIRA operations, Kirk added.

“The destiny of the site is not yet determined,” he said. “It is a valuable site for solid waste management, but also a valuable site for many other opportunities.”

A good opportunity

The plant’s aging buildings are surrounded by parking lots, electrical transmission equipment and scrubby fields. The entire property is bordered by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. Its gritty, industrial look is mirrored by the neighboring 201-acre Brainard Airport and nearby 33-acre Hartford Regional Market.

These three properties might not be much to look at, but Hartford officials say their combined acreage, located along a bend of the Connecticut River, represent one of the city’s best remaining economic development opportunities.

With that hope in mind, Sanchez wants to see the existing structures on the MIRA site removed and soils cleaned to standards allowing for mixed-use residential and retail development.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is another proponent of redeveloping the MIRA site, airport and regional market in concert.

“Taken altogether, between the property owned by Brainard Airport, the property owned by MIRA and the land owned by the currently dilapidated regional market, there are hundreds of acres of riverfront land at the intersection of New England’s two major highways,” Bronin said. “And we should look at this opportunity through the eyes of the generations that will come after us and see how we could maximize that opportunity for the benefit not just of the Capital City but the region and state as a whole.”

Bronin said he hasn’t yet identified a development concept for the MIRA site. He’s also not certain if the existing structures should be removed. But the mayor said he does not want the site to be used for municipal solid waste purposes in the future.

“My first priority is to make sure that site, which is contaminated and in need of environmental remediation, is remediated,” Bronin said. “MIRA has substantial reserves remaining in its accounts and I think it’s important and a matter of basic environmental justice that those reserves are dedicated to fully cleaning up a site that has burned much of the state’s trash for half a century.”

Bronin has been a proponent of closing and redeveloping Brainard Airport, but the Connecticut Airport Authority has shown no interest and there has been significant pushback from pilots and business owners on the site.

In April, the General Assembly authorized $1.5 million for the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) to lead a study of possible airport redevelopment. A report is due back to lawmakers by Jan. 1.

The CRDA manages the Hartford Regional Market, a 70-year-old agricultural distribution center along Reserve Road with 185,000 square feet of warehouse and refrigerated space that officials said is in need of significant renovations.

Local officials demand answers

Windsor consulting, engineering and construction management firm TRC Environmental Corp. developed MIRA’s plant closure plan, which estimates a $3.9-million cost, with a separate savings of $100,000 for the value of scrap metal.

That would pay for cleaning and dismantling heavy equipment and floor and storm drains; removing coal ash from a pond; covering the coal area with soil; sealing water cooling intakes and discharges; and removing and disposing radioactive sources, among other things.

A similar 2013 decommissioning study by TRC estimated costs of up to $19.3 million, but that plan included demolishing the buildings. The most expensive building to demolish would be the power plant, which once burned coal and was used by Connecticut Light & Power and a predecessor, Kirk said.

Power plant demolition would require costly removal of asbestos and other hazardous building materials, Kirk said.

The 2013 study contemplated much more extensive work because, at the time, a proposal was being floated for the Metropolitan District Commission to build a new waste-to-energy plant as part of a broad redevelopment incorporating an energy park and high-end condominium development in the South Meadows, Kirk said.

“It was important to know what we were looking at to prepare that site for development,” Kirk said. “It was kind of a very optimistic development dream.”

Under state law and its permits, MIRA isn’t responsible for clearing buildings from the site, unless the state legislature changes the quasi-public entity’s mandate, Kirk said.

Kirk also contends MIRA doesn’t have the money to fully abate and demolish the buildings on-site.

The MIRA plant has two main components, the waste-processing facility, which includes a 202,000-square-foot building housing offices, processing equipment and storage for trash to be burned. The processing area also includes a 38,000-square-foot parts and equipment warehouse.

The “power block facility” includes a guard house, administration building, and main building for power generation equipment and waste-ash removal. There are also two electrical substations and a peak need generation plant consisting of four jet engines and a 550,000-gallon jet fuel storage tank.

The peaking turbine power plant and associated fuel storage were not accounted for in MIRA’s latest closure plan.

Hartford’s City Council, in a resolution passed in September, said Hartford hasn’t been adequately consulted in MIRA’s decommissioning efforts. The resolution called for a MIRA representative to appear before the council and outline a plan to demolish the plant, decontaminate the site and return it to the city for redevelopment.

In a letter dated Nov. 4, Council President Maly D. Rosado invited Kirk to appear before the council’s Planning, Economic Development and Housing Committee on Dec. 7.

Kirk said he is happy to do so. He said the council doesn’t need to fear MIRA leaving behind a contaminated ruin. About $26 million has already been invested in cleaning the site to commercial and industrial standards after Connecticut Light & Power sold it to MIRA about two decades ago. It would be significantly more costly, however, to clean the site to residential standards.

How we got here

Bronin isn’t the only one dismissive of the potential for future trash handling on the South Meadows site.

In 2020, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes and Gov. Ned Lamont refused MIRA’s request for $330 million to help upgrade the failing trash-to-energy plant off Maxim and Reserve roads.

MIRA and its precursor had long underfunded capital needs, according to Lamont, who similarly rejected an alternative to convert the Hartford property into a large trash-transfer station.

“I cannot support sending hundreds of millions of state taxpayer or electric ratepayer dollars to MIRA to attempt to keep a failing decades-old facility running, right here in Hartford where it impacts our vulnerable residents,” Lamont said at the time.

As a result of the Hartford trash plant’s closure, Connecticut towns have been increasingly exporting trash to out-of-state landfills.

MIRA still manages trash exports for 25 towns — down from 120 a decade ago. Some of the garbage is sent to Pennsylvania landfills through MIRA’s Torrington transfer station; the remainder is funneled through MIRA’s Essex facility to the COVANTA trash-to-energy plant in Preston. MIRA ships recyclable materials to the privately run Murphy Road Recycling facility in South Windsor, Kirk said.

What’s next

DEEP has authority to accept or request refinements to MIRA’s closure plan. A DEEP spokesman said the agency has responded to MIRA’s plan with questions but otherwise declined an interview request on the topic.

In May, the General Assembly called for the formation of a task force to explore alternatives to exporting trash. A report of its findings is due by Jan. 1.

Kirk said the South Meadows site’s future is not in MIRA’s hands. If the state task force recommends using that site for waste management, that would be the “likely development plan,” he said. If not, then “it’s really a jump ball on what will happen to it.”

“I think there is going to be a lot of competing interests in what to do with this,” Kirk said. “Obviously the city is very interested in improving the value to the tax base of the site. It’s a beautiful site on the river.”