Ansonia officials pitched an $18.3 million capital improvement plan to about 60 people Thursday during a “Mayor’s Night Out” event at the Ansonia Rescue Medical Services headquarters on West Main Street.
A capital plan is the city’s version of a homeowner’s “to do” list.
City officials want to borrow money for a host of big-ticket improvements in order to spread out the cost over several years, instead of trying to pay for them out of the yearly budget.
Voters will have the ultimate say on whether the city moves forward with the projects on Election Day, Nov. 8, when they will cast yes or no votes on eight separate ballot questions connected to the borrowing.
The ballot questions are posted below.
The bulk of the $18 million will be used to build a new police station on Olson Drive, the former site of government-assisted housing. Its estimated price — $12 million.
The police station, a former school, was built in 1894.
The plan totals $18,295,000, broken down as:
- $12,080,000 for the new police station
- $1,565,000 for the Board of Education
- $1,155,000 for vehicles
- $1,035,000 for public safety
- $1,015,000 for roads
- $720,000 for public works
- $510,000 for culture-recreation
- $215,000 for infrastructure
Officials said the borrowing, if approved by voters, will not increase taxes.
City Financial advisers said that with debt payments for a number of prior bonding projects coming off the books, the city is able to keep borrowing money without raising taxes.
Ansonia officials are also touting the fact the city recently received a bond rating upgrade, which allows the city to borrow money at lower interest rates.
A further breakdown of the spending, by ballot question:
Question 1: Board of Education $1,565,000
— $300,000 for a building for trucks and equipment at Ansonia High School
— $15,000 for an access road to the high school from Coe Lane
— $510,000 to replace boilers and hot water heaters at the high school
— $75,000 to replace equipment at the school district’s central office on Grove Street
— $300,000 to increase parking at Mead School
— $350,000 for boiler replacement at Prendergast School
— $15,000 for debt administration
Question 2: Culture-Recreation $510,000
— $500,000 for Senior Center relocation and renovation
— $10,000 for debt administration
Question 3: Infrastructure $215,000
— $200,000 for city-wide communications upgrades to phones, switches, and wiring
— $15,000 for debt administration
Question 4: Public Safety $1,035,000
— $30,000 for an oxygen generator system
— $35,000 for upgrades to Bravo 8, an ambulance
— $15,000 to replace an ARMS light trailer
— $15,000 for a tactical trailer for ARMS
— $60,000 in communications upgrades at ARMS
— $25,000 in security system upgrades at ARMS headquarters
— $50,000 for new Jaws of Life tools for the fire department
— $70,000 for new radio equipment
— $10,000 for personal protective gear for firefighters
— $31,000 to buy backup generators for firehouses
— $30,000 for an automatic CPR chest compression system
— $500,000 for a new police communications center
— $50,000 for radio repeaters
— $75,000 for portable radios
— $23,000 for a livescan fingerprint machine
— $16,000 for debt administration
Question 5: New Police Station $12,080,000
— $12,000,000 new police station on Olson Drive
— $80,000 for debt administration
Question 6: Public Works $720,000
— $45,000 for roof and chimney replacement at Fountain Hose
— $25,000 for sewer line and floor epoxy at Charter Hose
— $45,000 for flood control at the Front Street pump station
— $45,000 for flood control at the Maple Street pump station
— $45,000 to replace the roof at Ansonia Nature Center
— $15,500 to replace the furnace at the Nolan Field fieldhouse
— $150,000 to replace the furnace and piping at the public works building
— $45,000 for flood control at the River Street pump station
— $280,000 for “citywide building upgrades” ($100,000 for nature center building repairs; $50,000 for roof and siding replacement at Hilltop Hose; $15,000 for siding at the public works building; $50,000 to repair the front steps at City Hall; $20,000 for roof replacement at Redwing Pond Preschool; $45,000 for “miscellaneous building upgrades”)
— $15,000 for a wash station for vehicles at the department of public works
— $15,000 for debt administration
Question 7: Roads $1,015,000
— $1,000,000 for milling, draining, paving, striping roads
— $15,000 for debt administration
Question 8: Vehicles $1,155,000
— $285,000 to replace Bravo 7, an ambulance
— $60,000 for a utility response truck for ARMS
— $46,000 for a new fire chief vehicle
— $35,000 for a police administration vehicle
— $105,000 for vehicles for the police department detective bureau
— $45,000 for a police supervisor vehicle
— $100,000 for a 1-ton dump truck with plow and sander for public works
— $35,000 for a pickup truck for public works
— $175,000 for a 9-ton dump truck with plow and salt spreader for public works
— $130,000 for a John Deere loader/backhoe for public works
— $125,000 for a tractor with roadside mower for public works
— $14,000 for debt administration
A spreadsheet with more details sent by the city to the Valley Indy Sept. 30 is posted below.
Officials made the case Thursday that the items to be purchased using the borrowed funds aren’t just a wish list, but necessary upgrades and improvements.
Police Chief Kevin Hale began by noting the police department’s current headquarters at 2 Elm St. is more than a century old and antiquated.
For example, cops only have three holding cells for prisoners, as opposed to nine when the police station was at City Hall on Main Street.
The chief said the cell block is cold in winter and hot in summer and not up to national standards for modern law enforcement. Modern cells are built in a way to deter inmate suicides — the current Ansonia cells are not.
“Not that we’re trying to build the Taj Mahal for people we take into custody, but we are responsible for their welfare,” Hale said.
He said anyone wishing to tour the current facility would be able to next month — the chief announced tentative tour times of Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. and Oct. 22 at 10 a.m., though he said he’d send additional details in an announcement to the Valley Indy.
The new police station — to be built as part of the redevelopment of Olson Drive — would be financed through a low-interest $12 million federal loan.
Robert Evans, the Board of Education’s director of facilities, told residents Thursday that the school board’s portion of the referendum borrowing would mostly go toward replacing outdated equipment, like boilers more than five decades old at Prendergast School.
He said school officials also want to create an access road from the rear of the high school to the Coe Lane area, build a three- to four-bay steel building to house equipment at the high school, and put about 40 new parking spots at Mead School.
ARMS Chief Jared Heon said his department sorely needs to replace an ambulance that dates back to 1999 and broke down twice last month, and is also looking to purchase a utility truck to pull a trailer and/or bring EMTs to calls in heavy snowstorms.
ARMS is also looking to buy an oxygen generation system instead of getting oxygen bottles delivered, upgrade an ambulance with a new suspension and “power load” to lift a stretcher, and buy a light trailer to replace one that dates back to 1982.
The department would also buy a new trailer for its Polaris Ranger vehicle which would double as a command post during search and rescue operations, he said. An automatic CPR chest compression system would also be financed with the referendum borrowing.
The fire department and ARMS are asking voters to approve replacing their portable radios.
Fire Chief Scott Trembley said his department would buy new hydraulic rescue tools — known as the “Jaws of Life” — because the department’s three sets date back to the 80s and are now obsolete.
The fire department would also buy some personal protective gear and backup generators at each of its firehouses, which are staffed during emergencies.
The referendum borrowing would also include up to $510,000 to relocate the Senior Center, which is currently housed at the city-owned Palmer Building at 153 Main St.
The city is in talks to sell the Palmer Building and adjoining “Ansonia Technology Park” building at 497 E. Main St. to developer Jerry Nocerino. He plans to turn them into a mixed-use development with around 90 apartments.
John Marini, the city’s corporation counsel, said all the details are still being negotiated, but that the deal would call for the senior center to be relocated to the ATP building’s first floor and remain there rent-free for 10 years.
The $500,000 may not all be needed to refurbish that space.
Public Works Superintendent Michael D’Alessio said his department needs a new payloader and two dump trucks as well as a pickup truck. Also included in the referendum — roof and furnace replacements on a handful of city buildings.
Most of the questions from residents were about the police station and senior center.
For instance, what will happen if the senior center can’t be moved to the ATP Building?
Marini and Sheila O’Malley, the city’s economic development director, said the funds could be used to move it somewhere else, but that the deal to sell the building would likely be contingent on the senior center being there.
Another resident asked for a space comparison of the current police station and what is proposed.
Hale said the police station at 2 Elm St. is 17,500 square feet. The new facility would be about 26,000 square feet on three floors, and also include an indoor firing range.
What will happen to the old building if the police move?
Mayor David Cassetti said he envisions moving the city’s probate court from City Hall to 2 Elm St.
The chart below shows the city’s current level of indebtedness, and anticipated debt levels for the next several years if the projects are approved by voters. The document was distributed by the city.