New construction to mark the new year in Griswold

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., Jan. 3, 2012
First Selectman Philip Anthony stands in Town Hall's 'front yard,' which will be re-configured and landscaped in 2012. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
First Selectman Philip Anthony stands in Town Hall's 'front yard,' which will be re-configured and landscaped in 2012. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

The ball got rolling for some town-wide improvements in Griswold during 2011, and will continue to roll through the new year, as well.
First Selectman Philip Anthony said that with the Bitgood Road bridge completed in November, road crews will next tackle the Edmond Road bridge late this spring.

Construction will also get underway on Lily Pond and Geer Roads, thanks to what he called “an early Christmas present” of a $500,000 grant. Work on both roads was “desperately needed,” he said.

That project will involve breaking up old pavement, repair of existing culverts or construction of new ones, and building a new paved road surface. “Weather-permitting, work on the drainage [systems] could start as early as the next few weeks,” Anthony said, noting that the paving process will have to wait until spring.

Spring will also see the installation of the first downtown redevelopment improvements, said Anthony. Benches, flags and planters will be installed on Main Street to make it more pedestrian-friendly, followed by façade improvements on Town Hall and some businesses.

Improvement of “customer-friendly parking” will be the next item town officials will tackle, he said.

Athletes from many sports and all ages can look forward to the projected opening of a new recreation facility on Sheldon Road, slated for fall 2012. The facility will include athletic fields, a storage shed, a concession stand and bleachers for spectators. Anthony said the field could play host to football, soccer and other sports, and would be open to intramural, high school team and town recreation team competition. There will also be walking tracks for less strenuous workouts. “It’s all-inclusive, actually,” he said.

Phase two of the new elementary school is also slated to open this fall, with the start of the 2012-13 school year. The new addition will include kindergarten and pre-K classrooms, a gymnasium and a “cafetorium,” as well as music classrooms, occupational and physical therapy rooms and kitchen and custodial space. Phase one welcomed students in April, allowing workers to demolish the remainder of the old school structure.

Anthony said that, with the severe flooding of 2010 still fresh in townspeople’s minds, the town has established a regular lake draw-down schedule with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Three of the town’s four ponds (Pachaug, Glasgo, Ashland and Hopeville) had not been lowered in 22 years, he said.

Drawdown at Hopeville and Ashland started in November and will continue until April this year, said Anthony. Next year will be Pachaug Pond’s turn. DEEP officials will aim for a 3-foot to 3.5-foot water level drop, in an effort to forestall spring floods and prevent invasive plants from clogging waterways, he said.

The year 2012 will be the first that Griswold should realize some savings from the solar panels installed on several town buildings last spring and summer, Anthony said. The panels were designed to reduce energy costs on the town hall, senior center, both fire halls, the sewer treatment plant and the public works building.

The program that provided the panels at no cost to municipalities ended shortly after Griswold’s panels went up. “Griswold was the last of the completely free programs offered,” Anthony said. “The taxpayers paid zero.”

Anthony said the town’s “wish list” for 2012 included hopes to expand the senior center via a $250,000-$300,000 state bond grant. State Sen. Andrew Maynard (D-18) assisted the town in applying for the grant, he said, and the town should receive a decision from the state within about a month.

Town officials would also like to extend sewer lines up Route 201, from the outskirts of Jewett City to Exit 86 off of I-395. Extending the line would open up the area around the exit for business development. “We have the water line, we have the electrical line,” said Anthony. “We do not have the sewer line. And for commercial developers, that’s what they’re looking for.”

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