Ansonia government wants to borrow $4,926,815 for a number of capital improvement projects, ranging from replacing roofs and fixing failing heating and ventilation systems in old city buildings to purchasing land along Olson Drive.
A public hearing on the $4.9 million bond is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m.
The referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, June 25, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voters will be asked to weigh-in on six questions.
The yes or no questions are:
1. Shall the $1,654,815 appropriation and general obligation bond issuance authorization for energy conservation improvements including roof and HVAC improvements among the Ansonia Rescue and Medical Services headquarters, Police Station, Library, City Hall, Eagle Hose & Hook Fire Company building, and Ansonia Armory, pursuant
to the resolution adopted by the Board of Aldermen and BOAT, be approved?
2. Shall the $945,000 appropriation and general obligation bond issuance authorization for City Public Safety consisting of School Security improvements and the purchase of land to expand the police station, pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Board of Aldermen and BOAT, be approved?
3. Shall the $929,000 appropriation and general obligation bond issuance authorization for City Recreation Safety consisting of Ansonia Nature Center pond dredging and parking, Nolan Field Athletic Complex improvements, and the purchase of land to expand the River Walk, pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Board of Aldermen and BOAT, be approved?
4. Shall the $595,000 appropriation and general obligation bond issuance authorization for City Environmental capital improvements consisting of the acquisition of a Vacuum Truck, Transfer Station improvements, and removal of underground oil storage tanks, pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Board of Aldermen and BOAT, be
5. Shall the $483,000 appropriation and general obligation bond issuance authorization for City Road and Parking Improvements to Woodbridge Avenue Extension, Beech Street and Hilltop Hose Driveway, and the West Main Street Parking Lot, pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Board of Aldermen and BOAT, be approved?
6. Shall the $320,000 appropriation and general obligation bond issuance authorization for the City to purchase land on Olson Drive, pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Board of Aldermen and BOAT, be approved?
Each question stands on its own, meaning some could pass and some could fail at the June 25 referendum.
Both the city’s Board of Aldermen and the city’s Board of Apportionment and Taxation (meeting at 7 p.m June 11.) are expected to re-affirm the language of the referendum Tuesday in order to send the questions to the public.
Ansonia, like Derby, is attempting to borrow money while interest rates are low and the need to make repairs is high.
“We’re looking at several long-term projects here. We thought the best way to do this would be through referendum and to go out to bond,” Mayor James Della Volpe said.
The mayor said Ansonia has paid down debt on a previous bond for the school system. With the old debt coming off and the new debt coming on, the new borrowing won’t inflate the Ansonia budget.
Repairs, Repairs, Repairs
Question no. 1, totaling $1.6 million, looks to repair damaged and leaking roofs at a number of city-owned buildings, such as the aging police station.
The city wants to make repairs to the roof at Ansonia Rescue Medical Services, which was damaged last winter. The city is pursuing a partial claim with an insurance company, corporation counsel Kevin Blake said.
“The roof at the ARMS building, it’s only 12 years old, but it was damaged during the blizzard,” Della Volpe said. “We want to make complete repairs.”
Other repairs are straight replacements of damaged roofs.
“The Eagle Hose (fire station), City Hall and the Armory roofs are all leaking. We need to get those repaired,” the mayor said.
The city has been slowly making repairs at the Armory, an old building downtown given to the city by the state, in an effort to make it a full-service community center.
The city wants to use part of the $1.6 million in question no. 1 to repair the roof and install an elevator at the Armory. The city has already made partial repairs to the roof using grant money, but that was only for a specific damaged section, said Eileen Krugel, the city’s grant coordinator.
Part of the $1.6 million from question no. 1 would also be used to replace windows at the police station on Elm Street and finally fix the decrepit boiler and its heating and air conditioning system.
The current boiler, police Chief Kevin Hale said, is either “off or on.”
“It’s either 90 degrees in the offices on the second floor or 55 degrees,” Hale said.
In the winter, the windows throughout the building are left open to allow the heat to escape so people can work.
In addition, the police department has to place fans in their computer server room because the building’s temperature can’t be maintained.
“We’re just pumping money out the window. It needs to be addressed,” Hale said.
The windows themselves are old-fashioned, single-pane glass and could date back to when the building was a school.
The hope is that spending the $1.6 million on roof replacements and HVAC upgrades will save Ansonia money on long-term energy costs.
“Right now we’re just wasting money up there,” Della Volpe said.
The June 25 bond also asks voters to approve money that could be used to purchase land surrounding the police station in order to expand the building.
The police department parking lot is seriously undersized and the department has outgrown its locker and evidence rooms, among other areas of the building.
“We realize the public can’t spend $10 million or $12 million for a new police department. There is nowhere to put a new building in Ansonia because we’re landlocked. But it’s probably time to think about expansion,” Hale said.
Question no. 2 asks voters to borrow $945,000 for a possible land purchase around the police department for a possible expansion.
The question no. 2 money would also be used to do a complete upgrade of security measures within Ansonia public school buildings.
City officials have been working on bolstering security within the schools since the Sandy Hook shooting in December.
Nolan Field, The Nature Center
Question no. 3 includes money to be used to dredge the Ansonia Nature Center’s Redwing Pond. Silt has been steadily filling the pond in. The
city will also use some of the $929,000 to rebuild a parking lot at the Nature Center.
Money from question 3 will also be used to repair the JFK Field House at Nolan Field.
“We have to replace the roof at the field house. We want to put new showers in the building. It wasn’t been worked on since 1964. Right now they have one common shower area that no one uses. We want to install separate showers,” Della Volpe said.
In addition, the city wants to fix leaky plumbing that has been plaguing the field house.
“We also want to put a new score board up for all the kids who play there,” the mayor said. “Plus, we need to pave the parking lot in front of Nolan Field and the parking lot in front of the Little League. They are falling into disrepair.”
The city also wants to make improvements, including drainage repairs, to Woodbridge Avenue Extension, Beech Street, the Hilltop Hose driveway, and the West Main Street parking lot, a large, under-used lot next to the Metro-North train station.
Olson Drive Open Space?
Question no. 6 asks residents to spend $320,000 to buy the land where the Olson Drive housing projects now stand. The city has been gradually tearing down the buildings, which are owned by the federal government.
Mayor James Della Volpe said the city hopes to purchase the land and preserve the land as open space once the buildings are torn down. More buildings are scheduled to come down later this year.
The city is talking to the feds about buying the land, the mayor said.
“We still haven’t got a definitive answer from HUD, but if we’re able to, we want to purchase the land and preserve it as open space,” Della Volpe said.
The question of what replaces with Olson Drive has been a hot topic in Ansonia. If the Olson Drive land is ever to be developed for housing — it must be federally-subsidized housing as per federal housing rules, according to city officials.
Della Volpe said more housing is not needed because the city’s west side is already densely populated.
“It’s not fair to the residents over there to have no open space except for the athletic field,” the mayor said.
The city, according to Della Volpe and Blake, still has to find 48 units of subsidized housing in the city to make up for the tear down.
That’s an ongoing process, the mayor said.
Not A ‘Wish List’
Gene Sharkey, president of the Ansonia Board of Aldermen, said his board ‘s finance committee has known about the repairs needed on city buildings for years.
However, paying for the repairs within a budget instead of bonding over time would wreak havoc on city finances.
“You can imagine what it would do to our mill rate,” Sharkey said.
Sharkey helped whittle down a list of needs from the city’s department heads and created a priority list for the $4.9 million referendum.
Dire repairs were included in the list, along with items that made good sense for the city. An example of the latter is the resurfacing of the West Main Street parking lot. The hope is that giving people an attractive place to park a block from Main Street will help economic development, Sharkey said.
- $525,000 for school security upgrades
- $66,000 for ARMS energy conservation work (Sharkey said the current HVAC system in the ARMS building is problematic, leading to mold and air circulations problem)
- $300,000 for handicapped accessibility (elevators) and roof work at the Armory
- $325,000 for a vehicle for Public Works and the WPCA
- $350,000 for a parking lot on West Main Street
- $255,000 for improvements at the transfer station
- $15,000 to remove underground oil tanks at the library, the police station and the Armory (removal is mandatory)
- $230,000 for ARMS roof structural repairs
- $320,000 for land acquisition on Olson Drive
- $200,000 to expand the Ansonia Riverwalk to Pershing Drive (note, this is a $1 million project and includes the construction of a pedestrian bridge spanning Metro-North tracks — the state and feds are paying for $800,0000)