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New closing date announced for Route 133 bridgeJim ShayBROOKFIELD - The state Department of Transportation has announced new dates for the closing of the Route 133 bridge connecting Brookfield and Bridgewater.The bridge will now closed at 10 p.m. on Friday, June 28 and reopen at 5 a.m. on July 1.The new dates are a week later than an earlier announced closure dates.Detours will be in place using Routes 67, 7/202 and 25.Between now and June 28 the constructions crews have been authorized to utilize 10-minute full closures, during the daytime hours 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Brookfield firefighters encourage residents and travelers to begin planning for this now and know your alternate route ahead of time.The planned bridge closure date was changed due to issues encountered during the construction phase.The work is part of the state Department of Transportation’s $9.86 million bridge rehabilitation project. The 851-foot bridge over the Housatonic River was found to to be structurally deficient in 2015 and in need of repairs to the deck, joints and parapet — along with drainage improvements and a fresh coat of paint. The bridge was built in 1955. 06/18/2019

Final report of Black Rock Turnpike Safety Study available to publicThe Town of Fairfield and the Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments have announced that the final report of the Black Rock Turnpike Safety Study is available at purpose of the study was to identify strategies to enhance safety for all users of the Black Rock Turnpike commercial corridor.Recommendations made in the final report will inform future improvements and safety countermeasures implemented along the corridor. Once funding sources have been identified and project scopes refined, detailed design and engineering plans will be developed to guide the construction phase. The robust public engagement process utilized throughout the study will continue as any project designs for the corridor commence.The Town of Fairfield thanks all the community members who assisted in guiding the development of the final report, including pu

New Ansonia police headquarters project moves forwardJean Falbo-SosnovichANSONIA — A new police headquarters downtown is getting closer to reality.That’s thanks to the city getting ready to go out to bid in the next week or so seeking a contractor to transform the former Farrel Corporate headquarters at 65 Main St. into a new police station, which also will house a new senior center.Once bids come back in a few weeks, the Police Building Committee will review them, and the city, in turn, will award the bid, likely around the end of July. City officials hope construction can get underway in late August or early September, and expect the project to take about a year to complete.According to Economic Development Director Sheila O’Malley, the city is in search of a contractor to handle renovations to the entire building, which will include a new roof, heating and electrical work, as well as purchase and installation of new furniture and equipment to outfit the police station. Bids also will include prep work for the new senior center, which will share space in the three-story, 85,000-square-foot building.O’Malley said Jacunski Humes Architects LLC of Berlin, with input from the Police Department and city officials, put together the bid package.Going out to bid is a significant step forward for a project that’s been in the works for the past two years.“It marks the beginning of renovations to a building that has lay fallow since September of 2016,” O’Malley said. “This is a good example of repurposing an old office building into one of the highest and best uses. The Police Department’s move to downtown will be the linchpin in the ongoing redevelopment efforts of this administration.”Mayor David Cassetti said moving police from their dilapidated, 123-year old digs on Elm Street into a newly renovated, “state-of-the-art” police station has been a culmination of lots of planning and effort by many individuals, including residents, the Board of Aldermen, former Police Chief Kevin Hale, Interim Police Chief Andrew Cota, the building committee, city staff and others.“This was no small effort,” Cassetti said. “The transformation of this building will coincide with all of the many improvements and redevelopment that is occurring in the downtown. It truly is part of a ‘recharged’ effort that will spur further growth and development.”Corporation Counsel John Marini added, “It is significant in that it demonstrates what amazing things can happen with everyone working together towards one purpose.”To date, O’Malley said environmental assessment work, removal of ceiling tiles and old furniture and installation of temporary lighting has been completed in the building.The building also includes both an indoor parking garage and an outdoor parking lot.The city plans to bond the $12 million residents previously approved at a referendum to fund the major renovation project.The building housed the Farrel-Pomini Corp. for years, before the company moved into new headquarters across town in the Fountain Lake Commerce Park in 2016. The company was going to pack up operations and leave town in 2014, but the city stepped in to stop the manufacturer from leaving. The city landed a $1 million grant which paved the way for an access road, which the city aptly named Farrel Boulevard, into Fountain Lake, and ultimately to construction of the new headquarters. Cassett said that all led to the city being able to repurpose the building for a much-needed new police headquarters and senior center. 06/17/2019

Derby aldermen approve water tank deal despite residents’ oppositionJean Falbo-SosnovichDERBY — Despite neighbors’ concerns, the city recently approved an agreement to lease land near Derby High School to the Regional Water Authority to construct a one-million gallon water tank.The Board of Alderman approved a memorandum of understanding last week, detailing the terms of the lease. The next step will be for RWA to gain site plan approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission, which will meet June 18.Mayor Richard Dziekan voiced his support for the project, saying “the public safety need that will be addressed by the tank is undeniable.”The agreement involves RWA leasing 2.15 acres on the north portion of Nutmeg Avenue from Derby for $1 for 99 years with the option for two, 99-year extensions. In addition, RWA will fund the city’s purchase of 1.25 acres of adjacent land owned by St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ansonia for $165,000. The nearby parcel wou

CT environmental agency promises streamlined bureaucracy to businessesEmilie MunsonThe head of the state’s environmental agency has a message for business: She wants to make it faster and simpler to get permits and comply with regulations protecting Connecticut’s air, water and soil.Speaking to 220 business leaders, lawyers, lobbyists and consultants on Thursday, Katie Dykes, commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, presented a new “20 by 20” initiative — 20 goals her agency will accomplish over the next 18 months.These are not rollbacks of environmental protections. Rather they are proposals to improve bureaucracy and make it easier for companies to comply with state oversight. By making the agency more productive, Connecticut may see more enforcement of environmental rules, Dykes said.“We have so much progress that we can make in improving the predictability, efficiency and transparency of our regulatory processes,” Dykes said. “That is what is driving our efforts.”Businesses in Connecticut hope that means real change.Michael Polo, president of Manchester-based aerospace manufacturer ACMT Inc., described his own difficult relationship with DEEP — one that sometimes boxed him and other companies out of opportunities, he said.“Working with them has been very slow,” Polo said. “We wouldn’t even look into doing anything to do with chemicals here because it is way too difficult.”Although it employs consultants to help with environmental regulations, ACMT once decided not to purchase a new facility in Connecticut because the permitting process would take years, Polo said. Meanwhile, in Florida, where ACMT has part of his operation, permits are guaranteed a look in about two weeks under a fast-pass process, he said.“It is unbelievable how easy it is,” he said. “It’s more of a conversation than it is a ruling, so it is much more collaborative.”Taking a small step in that direction, Dykes laid out 16 of the Connecticut environmental agency’s goals on Wednesday, such as publishing permitting time frames to the web, giving companies better technical assistance before they apply for permits and moving more applications online. She plans to put more of her agency’s environmental data online and develop predictable timetables for adopting new regulations. They will look at possibly consolidating some types of permits and eliminating some types of permits, too.The agency will crowdsource from businesses and the public the last four goals.Her presentation acknowledged that DEEP may have a long way to go to be truly business-friendly: one category of permits has 1,200 pending applications, she said.Dykes’s “strategic, metric-driven” initiative excites business leaders, said Eric Brown, vice president of manufacturing policy and outreach for the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.“Soliciting input from the regulated community is positive,” he added.But Connecticut companies still struggle under burdensome, time-consuming permit processes when they want to open in a new location or add a new product, he said. That can hinder the rapid pace of innovation. And it is unlikely to disappear, even with a solid dose of agency streamlining, he said.Dykes spoke to the CBIA’s Energy and Environment conference at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell on Thursday. She contrasted her approach to that of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Donald Trump.“When you have a federal government that is retreating from its environmental obligations, that is in denial about the impacts of climate change, what it is doing is holding back investment,” she said. “What we think builds our competitive economic advantage for the state of Connecticut is having that sound environmental quality, that clean and healthy environment that makes people want to live here, that makes people want to grow and expand jobs here.”Dykes was nominated to lead the DEEP by Gov. Ned Lamont in November, before he took office. She chaired the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority under former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.Lamont, like Malloy, is pressing to make government more user-friendly by cutting back some regulations and bureaucracy to help residents and, especially, businesses. That means changes at the state Department of Motor Vehicles, Administrative Services and now Energy and Environmental Protection.Lamont championed legislation to reduce residents trips to the DMV by extending the life of drivers licenses — a change that was approved by the General Assembly last week.In April, Lamont proposed several ideas to slash the state’s red tape. The state Department of Administrative Services is making several procedural changes including creating a state certification for small businesses copying the federal process and updating state data processing to allow more online bidding for state contracts.During his administration, Malloy also took many strides to reduce some regulations with the goal of helping businesses, saving the state money and reducing the workload for government staff, which shrunk by about 1,000 workers during his administration. In 2014, he signed legislation eliminating nearly 1,000 pages of state regulations his office deemed unnecessary. New Britain council OKs authorization of $57M for work at 3 schoolsMichelle France NEW BRITAIN - The Common Council unanimously approved $57 million in bond authorizations to be used for renovations at three schools. Confirmation is still needed from state officials on whether they will reimburse the project. Reimbursements are typically about 80%. The vote was taken during a special meeting at City Hall Wednesday night, before the council’s regular meeting. Benefiting from the money will be Chamberlain Elementary School and Slade and Pulaski middle schools. “Chamberlain is a beautiful old school, but in need of many resources and renovations,” said Principal Jane Perez during public participation. “We have often a leaky roof problem. … There is no air conditioning; that’s a big problem because the second floor often gets up to 90 and 100 (degrees) and it’s very hard to continue in a learning environment when both the students and the teachers are in distress because of the heat. We also have issues with leaky roofs and ceiling tiles falling and many other things.” The largest part of the bond will be dedicated to Chamberlain, addressing deficiencies including site safety issues and code compliance. The plans also include modern technology equipment in all instructional spaces, such as mobile computer carts, wireless access points, computer labs and interactive white boards. An outdated portable building, which housed four classrooms, will be demolished and the classrooms incorporated into the main building, while an addition will create more space for a school-based health center and a family resource center, according to a release. The estimated cost for the renovations at Chamberlain is $49 million. Slade and Pulaski middle schools were selected for roofing projects at an estimated cost of $3 million per school. The remaining $2 million will be put toward temporary classroom space and financing costs. “I’m proud to support this additional, substantial investment in our schools and children,” Mayor Erin Stewart said Thursday. “It is important that our children are provided with a safe and adequate learning environment. A special thank you also to state Rep. Robert Sanchez, co-chair of the Education Committee, for helping us make repairs to our aging infrastructure.” 06/14/2019