BEACON FALLS — Voters gave the town the green light to move forward with bond appropriations for three projects at a town meeting on Tuesday night.
Residents authorized the town to borrow up to $1.82 million in a bond package. The package includes $420,000 to cover overruns on work done on the Depot Street Bridge, $700,000 to begin upgrading the waste water treatment plant and $700,000 for a new fire engine.
The money for the treatment plant is part of a larger $16 million plan to upgrade the facility.
Dave Prickett, the vice president of Woodward and Curran and project manager for the plant upgrade, said the $700,000 will be used to bring the town in line with state regulations regarding the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water and upgrading the three existing pump stations.
“As we move forward towards an upgrade of the treatment plant this proposed project for the pump stations will really allow [Waste Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Walter Opuszynski] and his staff to better allocate their time to keeping up with a very old treatment plant,” Prickett said.
Not everyone was happy about spending the money on this project, however.
Richard Minnick raised concerns about the fact so much storm water enters the treatment plant whenever there is a significant rainfall. Minnick said the majority of the infiltration comes from the landfill.
“The infiltration needs to be fixed. Period,” Minnick said.
While he agrees the plant is in need of upgrades, Minnick feels the significant infiltration could put the whole project in jeopardy.
The new fire truck will replace an engine that is nearly 25 years old and no longer meets the safety requirements to be used as the lead truck during emergencies, according to fire officials. The new fire truck is a ladder truck as well as a pumper
First Selectman Gerard Smith said the need for a ladder truck has been brought before the town on numerous occasions. The fire department’s last ladder truck was taken out of service 10 years ago.
“The fire department has come up with a solution and that solution is to replace the pumper with a combination pumper-ladder. So we can actually have a vehicle fill both needs that we have,” Smith said. “They feel comfortable that this apparatus would meet the needs of the town and would be a new, valuable addition to the department.”
Some residents voiced concerns about the town spending so much money for the truck, saying it would be cheaper to simply repair the existing truck.
“So you’re talking about a pumper truck that, if something broke and you had to replace the pump, you’d spend $100,000. It’s not you got to spend $700,000,” John Gullesh said.
Smith pointed out the new engine also impacts homeowners because if the town no longer has a lead fire truck insurance rates will go up.
Ruth Pisani did not feel insurance increases were tied into whether the department had a new truck.
“Every single year my insurance goes up in this town,” Pisani said. “They don’t take into consideration the firehouse.”
However, the majority of residents felt the truck was a necessity for the town.
“I’m very much in favor of getting our fire department, the volunteer fire department, the right tools for the job,” William Mis said.
Mis said if the town started paying firefighters rather than relying on volunteers it would cost more than the fire truck.
“It’s our right to give them the tools that they need,” Mis said.
The money for the Depot Street Bridge project will cover overruns in the engineering work and inspections that were done on the project to renovate the bridge.
Jim Galligan, town engineer and president of Nafis and Young Engineers, Inc., said the Department of Transportation found additional rusting and corrosion on the underside of the bridge. Due to the rusting and corrosion, some work needed to be redesigned and caused a 25 percent increase in the time the inspectors were on site, he said.
“In the end the extra costs are just time. Man hours, design time for the extra corrosion under the bridge, and the extra time for being there 25 percent longer than was on the contract,” Galligan said.
Although voters gave their blessing for the town to spend bond up to $1.82 million, Smith doesn’t believe the town will need to bond the full amount. He said the town has been reimbursed approximately $43,000 from the state and received another $149,000 from grants to offset the costs of the Depot Street Bridge overruns.
The town is also seeking a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that could cover up to 90 percent of the cost of the fire truck, Smith added.