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Selectmen's Update: Several Projects Are 'On Time, Under Budget'

“On time and under budget” was the mantra being chanted by several presenters August 19 as the Board of Selectmen heard a report on a group of major projects in town either nearing completion or well under way.

Public Building and Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell was first up, accompanied by the project manager and lead contractor for the Hawley School boiler replacement project.

Charles Boos of Kaestle Boos, project manager and John Gennarini joined Mr Mitchell in informing the selectmen that the bulk of the work and cleanup would be completed before the opening day of school, and that the new heating system should be on line by October 1 or sooner.

Crews have washed furniture and waxed floors in anticipation of Hawley students and teachers returning, and are putting the finishing touches on the new heating system and boiler room, which Mr Boos said is much roomier now that a contemporary gas-fired heating plant is in place.

“The new (boilers) are much smaller,” he said. “The old ones look like they came off the Titanic.”

Mr Boos said additional work creating improved drainage is also complete.

“The contractor did a fine job with a tough schedule,” Mr Boos added. “They really stepped up to the plate.”

Following the presentation, Mr Mitchell told The Bee that he expects the project to come in around $100,000 under budget.

Economic and Community Development Director Elizabeth Stocker was next up, reporting to selectmen that the latest phase of the Sandy Hook Streetscape project was also scheduled to be finished “on time and under budget.”

Ms Stocker said the last major aspect of the project left to complete are the electrical connections to new lighting along Riverside and Glen Roads and Washington Avenue.

She said merchants in the area would like to see $150,000 to $200,000 of the project surplus used to continue adding sidewalks in the area. Ms Stocker said there has to be a discussion about whether to install more sidewalks on Dayton Street or up Riverside Road to the site of what will be the new Sandy Hook School.

First Selectman Pat Llodra suggested that the next streetscape project should refocus on Hawleyville.

Public Works Director Fred Hurley then turned his attention to the status of a major environmental cleanup ongoing at the Batchelder property in Botsford. Mr Hurley said a metal salvage company toured the site with town workers, and estimated he could recover about 2,000 tons of scrap worth $350,000 to $500,000 to the town.

Ms Stocker said an additional $150,000 in brownfield cleanup grants were also in the pipeline for the Batchelder site.

Mr Hurley told selectmen that depending on the planned future use of the site, it can be capped. That would be an alternative to having much of the underground contaminated soil at the former metal smelting facility dug up and trucked away.

Returning to the subject of sidewalks, Ms Stocker said she is continuing to apply for grants to enhance the sidewalk system in town. Selectman James Gaston Sr, also the Borough of Newtown Warden, said he is anxious to see the Church Hill Road sidewalk completed up to Main Street.

Mr Gaston suggested if a small grant is forthcoming the town might combine the funds, and share the balance of that expense with the borough to expedite completion of this leg of the central sidewalk plan.

Mr Gaston fixed the estimated cost for that installation at $80,000 to $100,000.

Selectman Will Rodgers suggested asking the state for help in installing some additional sidewalks as part of the future Edmond Road realignment plan near the Interstate 84 Exit 10 interchange.

Mrs Llodra said the town is asking the developers of a new gas station and mini mart at the current intersection of Church Hill and Edmond Roads to incorporate sidewalks across the frontage of that commercial lot as well.

Mr Hurley returned to the microphone to announce yet again that the town's new animal control facility would be completed under budget, while ticking off several minor touches needed to finish that project.

The public works chief then moved on to the pending Hawleyville sewer extension project, saying that an RFP (request for proposal) was ready to issue for appraisals on the properties that would be affected, for the puposes of fixing sewer assessments.

He is also readying a request for qualifications (RFQ) for design and engineering for that project.

“By the time the appraiser is done, we can present options for design,” Mr Hurley said. “That way we can have a better idea of the (project's) cost by the end of the year.”

He said if all goes well, design can commence next spring and the project could be complete by the fall of 2014.

Another major project reviewed was the streetscape and utility work at Fairfield Hills. Mr Hurley reported that all the new drainage is done along with most of the underground utility work.

He said once all the wiring and connections for electricity, IT and telecommunications are finished, all the poles currently suspending above ground wiring will come down. Mr Hurley said that the Fairfield Hills work was expected to also come in substantially under budget.

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