ESSEX— The board of selectmen will seek a $325,000 appropriation from the town’s undesignated fund balance to pay for engineering design work for two bridge replacement projects in the Ivoryton section.
The board endorsed the appropriation at its meeting Wednesday, with the board of finance expected to consider the requested expenditure at a meeting later this month. The appropriation would also need approval from voters at a town meeting.
First Selectman Norman Needleman said the current estimate for engineering design work is $225,000 for the Walnut Street bridge, and $100,000 for the smaller Ivory Street bridge. Both bridges that span the Falls River were constructed in 1983 as replacements for bridges destroyed in the June 1982 flood.
Selectmen had been planning to fund all costs related to the bridge replacement projects from a capital projects bond issue that is expected to go to the voters for approval later this year. But inspection reports from the state Department of Transportation confirmed that both bridges are in poor condition, leading the board to expedite plans for the replacement projects.
In endorsing the $325,000 appropriation Wednesday, the selectmen recommended the expenditure be reimbursed to the fund balance with proceeds from the larger capital projects bonding authorization. A committee is now working to finalize a list of projects, and cost estimates, for the proposed bonding authorization, with a plan for the projects expected to be presented to voters at a public hearing by this summer.
Needleman said the town would hire an engineering firm for the bridge projects after the requested appropriation is approved, with a goal of putting the bridge projects out to bid later this year.
In other business Wednesday, selectmen accepted the resignation of Chris Pugliuco from the honorary position of town historian. Pugliuco had assumed the position after the death in 2009 of author and longtime town historian Donald Malcarne. Anyone interested in serving as town historian for Essex is urged to contact the selectmen’s office.