Every Board of Selectmen’s meeting provides two opportunities for members of the public to comment on agenda items and other issues of public importance. First Selectman Pat Llodra is reaching out to residents to come with questions or ideas about the future of town-owned buildings and facilities.
The June 2 selectmen’s meeting, at 7:30 pm in the Newtown Municipal Center will include the kickoff of what is hoped will be a comprehensive assessment of municipal facilities and will result in a similarly detailed strategic plan for the future of those facilities.
Senior Project Manager Geralyn Hoerauf from Diversified Project Management, who has been instrumental in the planning process for the new Sandy Hook School, will be supporting this new townwide project. She has been charged with helping develop a request for proposals from providers for the assessment and analysis portion of the initiative.
Mrs Llodra told the Board of Finance in late April that Town Hall South, the existing Hook & Ladder headquarters, and the Sandy Hook multipurpose building will be among the priority focal points. She said that once the new community center being underwritten by a $10 million gift from General Electric is established, it will create space to relocate all nonpolice services to either the new center or to other locations.
The town-owned Hook & Ladder facility behind Edmond Town Hall has long been deteriorating and was labeled as structurally unsound years ago. The process to relocate the high response volunteer company has been prolonged, but members recently announced they acquired a Church Hill Road parcel and have begun the process of establishing a new company-owned headquarters there.
The multipurpose building, housing the Senior Center and Children’s Adventure Center preschool, will be opening up space when the Senior Center is relocated to part of the new planned community center.
Ms Hoerauf told The Newtown Bee May 28 that it is important that community voices be part of this process from the onset, so attendance and participation at the June 2 meeting is being solicited.
“There will be further conversations,” Ms Hoerauf said. “I think the key for Monday night is it will be an introduction to the public about what the selectmen and other town leaders are planning. Our first task on a project like this is to ascertain what the town is looking for, and then trying to meld that with what we see as something we might need.”
She said Newtown is already proactive about mid- to long-term municipal building strategies involving a planning process through its annually updated five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
“This latest effort should provide a way to advance Newtown’s capital improvement program to look at specific buildings and concerns in the more immediate future,” Ms Hoerauf said, “and to integrate a more formal timeline. There are a number of properties, but we’ve learned from a similar project in Southbury that the challenge for a board of finance to plan far out enough so they are not replacing two roofs and relocating departments all in one fiscal year.”
Ms Hoerauf envisions Monday’s selectmen’s meeting will be a kickoff to the process and giving the public an opportunity to be part of the process from the onset, and to provide their own views.
“We will plan for more future public meetings, but we’d like to hear from the top of this process what interest there is on the public side. I know there is also a plan to have an advisory committee involving both town staff and members of the public to focus on what our goals will be,” she added.
The project professional also said Newtown is fortunate to have the volunteer expertise of the Public Building and Site Commission whose members will play a major role on all facets of the planning and execution process during and after the timeline and facilities strategic plan are solidified.
The June 2 selectmen’s meeting will also include a status update from the Fairfield Hills Authority for those interested in getting the latest information about the town-owned campus.