The school district and the police department want to upgrade their facilities but in the process of delivering a zero-increase budget, the Town Council tabled one proposal and rejected the other so at the moment, everyone’s back on square one and everything’s in the air.
Mayor John Rodolico had no hard feelings when the Town Council rejected his proposal to move the police department to the Gales Ferry facility but something has to be done soon he said Tuesday to the Permanent Municipal Building Committee meeting.
“We can’t leave them where they are more than a couple more years, that building is inadequate plus we don’t want to put the money into it,” he said. Repairs to the heating and cooling system are estimated at $68,000, for instance, and the building has other issues like mold and flooding that should be addressed.
“I’m saying that I’m moving down the path of a new police station,” said Rodolico.
Rodolico asked building committee for help in finding a good location for a new police station, which will probably be about 7,000 square feet.
“The town owns scads of property right now,” he said.
School Construction Project
The Municipal Building Committee also discussed the Town Council’s decision to table the school board’s request last Wednesday for $20,000, which would pay for a look-see into having the sixth graders moved up to the middle school, adding a new wing to accommodate the extra students and closing Ledyard Center School.
“We don’t know for sure that we can go down there and put a building in the spot that we’re talking about,” said Sam Kilpatrick, director of school facilities. Kilpatrick said the wetlands and topography might be prohibitive to the project, for example.
A study performed at the school board’s request would determine “if and how the wing could be done,” according to Kilpatrick.
But, Town Council Chairman Sean Sullivan said the item was tabled to allow time for everyone to agree that the project is necessary.
“There’s no reason to spend money on architectural drawings unless you’re going to go to referendum,” he said. “There’s no reason to spend the $20,000 unless there’s a consensus that this should be the project the town should undertake.”
Committee member Steven Juskiewicz said they were not apprised of the school board’s long-term strategy and vision and couldn’t comment on the project’s broader impact.
The school board’s proposal comes from a facility study that was published in the mid-1990s, according to the Sullivan, who said that the demographics of the town and school have changed significantly.
For example, Sullivan said the facility study accounts for 3,000-3,100 students in the district, which has decreased to around 2,200.
“You need to get everybody on board as to what the long term plan is,” said Rodolico.