Town's projects discussed at workshop

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Jan. 18, 2013
Town Enginner Dan Pennington shows a diagram of the intersection of House, Harris and Griswold streets. Photos by Steve Smith.
Town Enginner Dan Pennington shows a diagram of the intersection of House, Harris and Griswold streets. Photos by Steve Smith.

Security remained a hot topic, as members of the Glastonbury Town Council, Board of Finance, and Board of Education discussed potential capitol improvement projects, as well as ongoing efforts, at a workshop on Jan. 16.

Town Manager Richard Johnson gave an overview of the projects, which included bridges, road overlay, improvements to buildings including Town Hall, and energy efficiency improvements in many town facilities, among many others.

The improvements to the former Academy School building and the concept of creating a municipal complex around Town Hall were one of the more-discussed projects. Town Engineer Dan Pennington presented plans to landscape the former D-wing site, including the elimination of the circular driveway and the reconfiguration and resurfacing of the parking lot.

“We're going to focus, on the south side, on lighting, landscaping and signage, because that's where Parks and Rec. is now,” Johnson said. “And then we're going to focus on continuing improvements on the inside.”

Superintendent of Schools Alan Bookman spoke about possible upgrades needed at some schools, involving electrical outlets, for which another $50,000 is needed, as well as a reallocation of the previously-approved $150,000 for communications. “We are lacking the capacity, electrically, at some of our schools,” Bookman said, adding that the communications funds would go toward systems that would help security measures in schools, including inter-classroom communications.

Existing security cameras in schools are also in need of an upgrade. “We've now completed improvements to the high school, and the elementary camera system is about 15 years old,” Bookman said. “It's very hard to make out anything on the camera, on the television monitors we have.”

Air conditioning at schools was also discussed, as it may relate to security. “In May and June, our elementary schools that are not air-conditioned, if you go by, you will see doors wide open,” Bookman said. “On hot days, in some classrooms, it'll reach as much as 97 or 98 degrees, and that's with the doors open. With everything going on now, people are starting to ask me what we're going to do in the hot months. We have to find a way to exist, and maintain the security in these buildings.” Bookman suggested a study of the A/C-deprived buildings, to determine the cost of adding air conditioning.

Town Councilwoman Lorraine Marchetti said many items on the CIP list had to do with security, and that she was concerned about the dollar figure to accomplish all of those projects in a timely manner. “If indeed they are [found to be] security-related [needs], there's a number here that I think we should go out to bond, and let the voters decide,” Marchetti said. “That's something we're still going to have to address. We're going to have to pay for it somehow. There's no easy answer, but if these are really things we need to address, I don't see how we can just keep it in the CIP. How do educate your kids if you don't have a comfortable environment to learn in?”

Several other projects are also included in the list, including some replacements of things whose “times have come.” The town's mobile stage - which has been used in a variety of ways, including at the Riverfront Music Festival, the Apple Harvest Festival, and for individual schools - is in need of replacement. “It gives a lot of flexibility for outdoor performances,” said Parks and Recreation Director Ray Purtell. “It's a versatile piece of equipment. We've had this unit for greater than 30 years. It doesn't owe us anything.”

When asked about the best way to address the town's infrastructure needs, such as replacing boilers, Johnson said there is always a “balancing act” when tackling large projects, as far as whether to include them in a budget, or go out to referendum and bond for them. “If you spread these items out, with a long life expectancy, it can have a modest effect on our debt service, and allow you some flexibility,” he said.

The CIP will be revisited at least two more times before being approved as part of the 2013-2014 budget. It will be discussed at the Town Council meeting on Jan. 22 and at the Annual Town Meeting, slated for Jan. 23.

“We have time to work on this,” said Town Council Chairman Chip Beckett.

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