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Selectmen Updated On Projects, Authorize Use Of H&L Garage

Published: November 25, 2016

At their last meeting in November, the Board of Selectmen received a brief update on ongoing municipal projects and issued a temporary license for a local business to store equipment at the vacant Hook & Ladder garage behind Edmond Town Hall.

Town Grants Coordinator Christal Preszler, who is assisting the Economic Development office, along with Planning Director George Benson appeared to provide their quarterly review of ongoing projects.

Ms Preszler said that because of a combination of materials analysis underwritten by a recent grant, experience gained through previous demolition projects, and the expertise of the town’s current demolition vendor, there is approximately $1.1 million remaining in bond underwriting that was initiated to complete several projects at Fairfield Hills.

Besides the demolition and removal of debris and restoration of the parcel where Canaan House stood, the original bonding also covered the remediation and demolition of a number of former staff residences on the town-owned campus, which was formerly a state hospital.

The funds also covered the razing of a collapsing greenhouse on the campus, as well as remediation of one of three residential duplexes, which has been converted to a headquarters for the Newtown Parent Connection and offices for several other human services tenants.

Prior to the Canaan demolition, Ms Preszler said town and contract crews had successfully recovered a number of usable artifacts from that former residential building and other facilities on campus. The highest profile reclaimed items are the cupolas that adorned the tops of several buildings.

She said crews also salvaged decorative hanging lamps, granite steps, marble fireplace surrounds, an exterior decorative “artichoke” cast in cement, metal visitor signs, and several weathervanes. Town crews also were able to apply some of the crushed materials from Canaan House to a drainage project being completed behind the middle school, Ms Preszler said, saving the expense of obtaining that fill from an outside source.

In regard to the Parent Connection duplex, Ms Preszler said the project was completed using additional grants totaling $500,000, and a $250,000 allocation from the town. She said the newly renovated duplex presents a “great view and vision” of what the rest of the duplexes could look like if interested tenants approach the Fairfield Hills Authority or the town for space on the campus.

First Selectman Pat Llodra has previously suggested that at least one duplex could serve as a new headquarters for the local Social Services department and its food pantry, and/or other support services or agency offices.

Turning attention to Sandy Hook Center, Ms Preszler reviewed the progress on demolition of the former Sandy Hook Auto & Marine garage at 7 Glen Road. She said the town received a $55,000 brownfields grant to assess the surface layers of possible hazardous material contamination, which then permitted demolition to progress.

Mrs Llodra said the 1.1-acre site is in a prime location, and might be used for anything from additional parking to a fully developed building. Ms Preszler said the town is planning a meeting with state environmental officials to try and determine possible future uses factoring the degrees of hazmat assessment developed prior to and since the demolition there.

She also praised the local Public Works Department for its work handling much of the demolition and again, saving taxpayers the cost of contracting an outside vendor.

Looking toward a second brownfield site at 28 Glen Road, Ms Preszler said six former industrial buildings remain on that site. She said if the town entertains handling remediation there, the preliminary estimated cost to do so would top $137,000. But site cleanup on that parcel is another matter, with estimated cleanup costs looming between $382,000 and $642,000.

Mrs Llodra told selectmen that in the interim, short-term measures have been put in place to reduce risk of any further contamination from the site, a former metals machining and annealing plant. She added that it may be more challenging to get grants for any analysis or cleanup at the site because there’s no “end story,” or plans to reuse the property.

The final item covered for selectmen related to new enhancements to the Fairfield Hills “streetscape.” Following a prebid meeting the week of November 7, she said bids for improvements — particularly around the campus’ main entrance — are due on November 29.
“We hope to have lighting in by winter,” she said of plans to expand decorative fixtures to the entrance.

In other business, selectmen heard from Town Attorney David Grogins who concurred that a six-month license for temporary use of the abandoned Hook & Ladder garage behind Edmond Town Hall was appropriate and permissible. According to the first selectman’s office, LRM, Inc, a sitework, masonry, landscape development, and project management firm, will pay $2,000 monthly to temporarily house equipment in parts of the building.

Mr Grogins said a temporary license for use was recommended, reducing the procedural steps to do a lease for just a six-month period. He reminded the selectmen that a lease of a public building requires public hearings, a Legislative Council vote, and adds unnecessary steps to issue permission to use the facility for a fee.

The lessee has agreed to the $12,000 license ($2,000 per month) as well as covering all utility costs and winterizing the building for storage. Mr Grogins said the temporary tenant expects fairly static use, with “little or no in and out.”

The town will maintain insurance on the building, while the licensee will provide insurance on its contents, a hold harmless agreement, and has signed off on an assumption of risk for its use of the former fire station.

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