May 25, 2022

Essex Selectmen Approve $38,000 Appropriation to Relocate Emergency Operations Center at Town Hall

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday approved a $38,000 special appropriation to pay for relocating the town’s emergency operations center in to the former judge of probate office at town hall.

The board’s vote is the first step in a process that includes review of the proposed appropriation by the board of finance at a Dec. 15 meeting, followed by a public hearing and town meeting vote on the expenditure early next year. The emergency operations center would be relocated from a ground floor room that has been plagued by water leakage and mold problems to the former judge of probate office on the second floor, which has been vacant since the regional probate court in Old Saybrook was established last January. The board began discussing the proposed relocation after the water problems in the existing EOC were worsened by Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said the town insurance carrier has agreed to pay $34,000 to repair damage caused by the tropical storm. Needleman said the total cost of the relocation, and improvements intended to remediate water leakage in the ground floor room, is estimated at $71,880.

The total includes $48,000 for construction and basic electrical work, about $10,000 to hook up all radio communications equipment in the new EOC, $1,500 for removal of asbestos in the ground floor room, and a contingency of $6,500. The total also includes about $5,000 for installation of a sump pump, dehumidifier, and exterior drainage improvements intended to remediate the water problem in the former EOC area.

Needleman said the net new expense for the town would be $38,000. He said the work would be completed by spring if voters approve the special appropriation.

The EOC relocation is the second special appropriation for emergency management and response items to be approved by the selectmen this fall. A proposed special appropriation of $32,538 to purchase emergency response related items, including new radios and road signs, will be presented to voters for approval at a Dec. 21 town meeting.

In other business, Needleman said he would retain two public comment periods on the board’s regular meeting agenda. The first, at the beginning of the meeting, would be for public announcements and general comments, the second, at the close of the meeting, would be dedicated to further public comment on issues that were discussed on the meeting agenda.