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Referendum Questions Heavy On Maintenance

Referendum Questions Heavy On Maintenance

Voters on Tuesday will decide who will fill the seats on the Town Council, Board of Education, the Board of Assessment Appeals, Planning and Zoning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals, and will be asked to authorize funding for projects to improve school and municipal buildings and roads in seven different ballot questions. 

Those questions include a request to appropriate $310,000 in bond funding for town and school security technology.

At $1.8 million, the most expensive request is for bond authorization to repair the West Johnson Avenue Bridge, which runs over the Ten Mile River. 

According to the explanatory text for this question, the repairs would fix a vertical crack in the bridge’s superstructure, by replacing that superstructure. The crack resulted in weight restrictions being placed on the bridge. Town officials anticipate receiving approximately $900,000 in grant funding toward the project. 

Another question asks voters to authorize $1.7 million in bond funding for a townwide road improvement program. The program, if approved, would cover a road treatment program that includes restoration, milling, paving, crack seal and other surface treatments, according to the referendum text. 

The school building improvements include a $600,000 request to replace Doolittle School’s boilers, a $450,000 project to improve Highland School’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning units and $250,000 to replace the windows at Cheshire High School. 

Those new window units would be “gas-filled, double pane insulated glass” and “will be more energy efficient,” than the Cheshire High School building’s current single pane, insulated glass windows, which town officials have said “are past their intended life cycles.” 

The proposed projects at Doolittle and Highland also have energy efficiency and cost reduction in mind. 

The proposed technology security projects would fund the replacement and purchase of new video surveillance equipment and door access control systems for school and other town buildings. 

Town Council Chairman Rob Oris Jr., a Republican seeking reelection to his seat on the council, described all of the seven requests as “necessities.”

“They are not wasteful items,” he said, adding that he is aware some might have questions about funding school building window replacements and security projects when the town has recently formed a committee to look at the eventual replacement and renovation of the town’s school buildings. 

Oris said any meaningful plan worth pursuing would “take some period of time” to implement. 

“Not every school is going to be torn down as far as i’m concerned. Kids’ safety is a number one priority. There is no question in my mind we need to use that money and we need to use that money today. I want to make sure our children are protected today,” Oris said. 

Jim Jinks, a Democrat seeking the Council's Second District seat, described the referendum items as necessary as well.

Jinks noted that updates, including the HVAC system at Highland and the windows at Cheshire High School, “seem to be updates that need to be done right away.”

Jinks, who had recently shared the explanatory text regarding the ballot questions on social media, said his goal in sharing that was to spur more discussion about the items.

“I think there are questions, why are we improving these now, when we're about to start the school modernization process?” Jinks said. “We want to to have a little bit more communication about what the items are going to be.”


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