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Newtown Delegation Secures $2.6M For Sandy Hook Memorial



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HARTFORD — In the waning hours of the 2021 legislative session, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a state bonding package that funds a number of projects, including necessary infrastructure updates, municipal aid, school construction, and additional needs statewide — among them, a substantial grant to help underwrite the cost of a permanent memorial to the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012.

Newtown’s state legislative delegation of Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) and Representatives Raghib Allie-Brennan (D-2), Mitch Bolinsky (R-106), and Tony Scott (R-112) worked with Governor Lamont’s office and Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal to secure a $2.6 million grant allocation for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial.

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said, “The state has been very kind and supportive of our community since the tragedy, and I am grateful for this partnership as we near construction on the memorial to remember and honor the precious lives lost that horrible day. My sincere thanks to Governor Lamont, Lt Governor Bysiewicz, Senator Hwang, and Representatives Bolinsky, Allie-Brennan, and Scott, and the entire state legislature for their support of this very important project.”

Sen Hwang, the ranking senator on the bonding subcommittee, said, “Securing grant-in-aid to supplement town-approved funding for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial was a successful team effort which will bring to fruition an important tribute which will provide a step forward toward closure and healing from an incredibly emotional time for our community.

“I want to give a special acknowledgement to members of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission, volunteers who have diligently and respectfully planned this memorial for the past number of years,” Hwang said. “I am honored to be a part of a team effort working together for Newtown and Sandy Hook.”

Rep Bolinsky applauded the work done and the bonding commission’s generosity, saying, “I am truly touched that the governor and the Speaker of the House thought of us and acted to help us have a place of beauty intended to recall, honor, and continue the process of healing, shared by so many in our community. As a delegation, we worked closely to support the issuance of this grant in the spirit intended, with respect, reverence, and love.”

Rep Allie-Brennan said, “When Newtown voters approved $3.7 million for the Sandy Hook memorial construction, I felt it was imperative the state contribute to this worthwhile project. I went to House Democratic leadership, the governor’s office, and the Newtown delegation. Thanks to bipartisan cooperation, we are returning taxpayer dollars to support our community’s effort to honor the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”

Rep Scott said, “I am deeply appreciative of the bipartisan effort in securing this commitment from the legislature. Thank you to First Selectman Rosenthal, my colleagues, and all the volunteers who fought for the inclusion of Newtown in the final bonding package. I eagerly await the final decision of the governor’s Bonding Commission on this beautiful and touching project.”

In late May, Newtown Public Building and Site Commission (PBSC) Chairman Robert Mitchell told The Newtown Bee that his panel was expecting all of the construction documents to be completed and delivered by sometime in June so Downes Construction — the project’s management firm — can initiate bidding for contractors.

One of the issues under scrutiny lately has been the escalating cost of a working mock-up of the circulation system that will underpin a water feature at the completed memorial. Mitchell said material prices have increased so much over the past few months, it was determined that the model will likely not be needed.

He said the vendor agreed the installation could be completed successfully without the model, so funds formerly earmarked for that will be used to replicate a couple of sections of the concrete walkways and walls that will surround the water pool. Those sections will incorporate engravings of the names of the victims, as well as a quote from President Barack Obama, who came and spoke at a memorial service soon after that horrific event.

Mitchell said his commission also endorsed a plan to fast-track weeding and treating the property surrounding the memorial this summer, rather than putting it off until 2022. “It won’t cost us any more to fast-track that weeding and inhibitor application now, and it will end up getting us better results in the long run,” he added.

Although materials costs are escalating industry-wide, Mitchell said the project is nowhere near tapping any contingency funds set aside in the budget. In closing, Mitchell also noted that all necessary local pre-application reviews by the fire marshal’s office, the local wetlands agency, and the planning departments are done.

“That means they do not see any immediate issues related to the plans we have so far,” he said, “so we are all clear to move forward.”

Associate Editor John Voket can be reached at john@thebee.com.

Newtown’s state legislative delegation, from left, Rep Tony Scott (R-112), Rep Mitch Bolinsky (R-106), Sen Tony Hwang (R-28), and Rep Raghib Allie-Brennan (D-2), worked together with Governor Ned Lamont’s office and Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal to secure a $2.6 million grant allocation for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial as the 2021 legislative session wrapped up late Wednesday, June 9.
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