August 14, 2020

Essex Vote on Bonding for Capital Projects – Elementary School Roof a Priority

ESSEX— Town officials are planning a vote late this year on a bonding authorization for several capital projects, with a replacement of sections of the Essex Elementary School roof and two bridge replacement projects listed as priorities in a report submitted in July by a volunteer study committee.

The five-member capital committee, chaired by Selectman Joel Marzi, has submitted a report to the board of selectmen that reviews more than two dozen potential capital projects for town buildings and properties. Along with the school roof and replacement of the Ivory Street and Walnut Street bridges in the Ivoryton section, the list prepared by the committee also includes several improvements and renovations to the 1892 town hall building. While some of the projects and improvements could be funded by capital sinking funds in the annual town budget, and some deferred, a bond issue would be needed to pay for some of the larger projects.

The replacement of sections of the elementary school roof, particularly the sections over a 1991 building addition, is estimated to cost about $1.2 million. These sections of the roof are already leaking in some areas after heavy rainfalls.  The committee did not provide a cost estimate for the two bridge replacement projects, though the bridge projects could cost between $500,000 to $1 million each. Some state reimbursement would be available for the school roof replacement, while the bridge projects could be eligible for some state an federal grant funding.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said this week the next step for the capital projects would be hiring an engineering consulting firm to “fill in some of the blanks,” and provide more detailed cost estimates.

Needleman said the consultant would work with the board of selectmen this fall to further prioritize projects and establish a final plan that would form the basis of a proposed bonding authorization. Needleman said the bonding proposal could be as much as $5 million, to be paid off over 20 years.

Needleman said a specific bonding proposal could be presented to the town’s voters by the end of the year, or possibly early in 2014. Needleman said he would recommend voting on the bonding authorization at a town meeting, though residents could petition for a referendum vote on the bonding package. He said any vote on a bonding package would be preceded by a public information meeting.

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