January 25, 2020

Essex Selectmen to Seek Special Appropriation for Emergency Management Priorities

ESSEX— The board of selectmen has decided to seek town meeting approval later this fall of a special appropriation to pay for priority items needed by the town’s emergency management office, including relocating the emergency operations center to vacant space on the first floor of town hall.

The board Wednesday discussed a list of needed items prepared by emergency management director William Buckridge. The effort was prompted by a review of the town’s response to Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28.

The list includes several items that were lacking in the aftermath of the storm, including an electric generator for the solid waste compactor station, an additional new generator for the town garage, two radio repeaters and additional portable radios for emergency responders, and additional “road closed” signs. The list also includes a relocation of the town emergency operations center from the ground floor to the now vacant former judge of probate office on the east side of the first floor of town hall. The price tag for the total list is $221, 815, including an estimated $50,000 for relocating the emergency operations center.

The board, which will include one or more new members after the Nov. 8 town election, was unanimous in favor of pursuing voter approval of a special appropriation this year to pay for many of the emergency management items.

Selectman Joel Marzi said an appropriation from the town undesignated fund balance should be used to pay for the most important items, including the office relocation. Selectman Norman Needleman, noting that severe weather could occur in any season, said town officials need to convince voters the emergency management items “should be elevated to a level of urgency.”

The board agreed to determine the most important items on the list at its Oct. 5 meeting, and then discuss the needs with the board of finance, which would have to approve any special appropriation to fund the priority items. The issue would then be presented to residents at a public hearing that would be followed by a town meeting to seek voter approval of a special appropriation.

In other business, the board formally awarded a contract for the Novelty Lane Pentway Project to Rebco Management LLC of Old Lyme on a low bid of $19,010. The long planned project will an upgrade the public access walkway off Novelty Lane in the downtown village to a gravel handicapped-accessible walkway leading to the bulkhead on Middle Cove of the Connecticut River. Work on the public access walkway improvement project is expected to begin on Oct. 3 and be completed by the end of October.