Survey to gauge interest in building project 

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The town-owned home at 35 Wolfe Ave. in Beacon Falls. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — Officials want to know whether residents want a new library and community center.

The town bought the house and land at 35 Wolfe Ave. — known locally as the Tracy Lewis House — in 2008 with the intent of building a new library and community center on the property. The plan never got off the ground, and the building is now in disrepair.

The Community/Media Center Building Committee requested $60,000 in this fiscal year’s budget to begin drafting plans for the building. The Board of Finance denied the request because board members wanted to see community support for the project before allocating funds toward it.

Selectman Michael Krenesky, who sits on the building committee, presented a draft survey to the Board of Selectmen Monday night. The point of the survey is to gauge the public’s interest in the project.

A draft of the survey says the proposal calls for a roughly 15,000-square-foot building at an estimated cost of $6 million.

The survey will ask whether people will support spending money for a building project, and, if so, what type from the following choices: community center, media center, a community center and media center, or a new town hall building.

Those who don’t support the project will be asked whether they would prefer the town demolish the house and keep the land, or sell the property.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik felt those two questions summed up everything the town needed to know from residents.

“We want this to be as simple and straightforward as it can be. If we start giving too many choices that complicates the issue,” Bielik said. “We are asking the right questions by asking these questions.”

A third question about how much money residents would be willing to spend was proposed. However, the board agreed that the survey was not the right time to ask that question.

“That’s a question that would have to go to a town meeting in order to authorize the expenditure,” Bielik said.

The board also agreed to send the survey to the building committee for its review. If they move forward with it, officials have to decide how to disseminate the survey.

“The method of putting it out there would be our biggest challenge. Part of me would love to see an online survey. But I don’t know if that hits everybody,” Krenesky said.

The board was wary of sending it out in the mail since it would cost of a few thousand dollars and the town might not see a high return rate.

Bielik said the board could have the questions appear on the ballot in November.

“I think if we are looking to capture the greatest amount of input from the town that has got to be the method to use. And it will certainly be the least costly way to do it,” Bielik said.

Bielik said he would look into whether the town still has time to get the questions on the ballot.

The board is expected to take the issue up again during its September meeting.