May 24, 2022

Essex Selectmen Discuss Capital Projects Committee

ESSEX— The board of selectmen Wednesday discussed formation of a capital projects study committee that would research priority projects for a possible bonding proposal in 2013, including replacement of most of the roof at Essex Elementary School and renovations to town hall.

First Selectman Norman Needleman announced that Selectman Joel Marzi has agreed to chair the planned five-member study committee. Along with Marzi, the group would include a representative of the board of finance and the town treasurer, along with two volunteers. Needleman said the committee, to be formally appointed over the next month, would prepare a report on priorities for possible bonding by the end of the year.

Marzi said replacement of the elementary school roof would be a priority for any bonding proposal. Most of the roof work, including the area of a 1990 addition, was not included in the recently completed $5.8 million renovation and expansion of the school that was approved by voters in 2007. Marzi said these sections of the roof should be replaced to prevent leaks and related problems.

Needleman said the 1890s town hall also needs further renovations, including the building’s roof and heating system. He said the town will also be required to cover a 25 percent funding match for bridge replacement projects in the coming years, beginning with the Walnut Street bridge in the Ivoryton section. Needleman noted that with interest rates currently at record lows “this is a good time to borrow money,” for priority capital projects.

Any bonding proposal put forward next year would require approval from voters in a referendum. Voters would also be asked to authorize one or more building committees for the elementary school and town hall projects.
Needleman also announced Wednesday that Southern Connecticut Gas Company has begun a study of the feasibility of extending an existing underground gas line from Westbrook north along Route 153 to sections of Essex and Centerbrook. He said the discussions have focused on extending the line to the Bokum corners area, including the Essex Meadows retirement community and the Lee Company, and then further south to include portions of Centerbrook and the elementary school.

Needleman said conversion to natural gas could result in savings on energy costs of about 30 percent for large consumers. He said further information on the possible extension of the natural gas line is expected later this year.