Voters at town meeting says yes to energy grant, bridge repair
SHARON â€” A special town meeting at Town Hall on Friday, April 16, lasted 11 minutes and attracted 21 town residents. They unanimously approved the two items on the agenda without any debate.
The first item, which asked residents to accept the $33,750 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) that the town received earlier this year, got a swift OK. Energy Task Force Chairman Scott Heth described in detail the projects the task force will undertake with the funds.
The first project, which will cost $10,000 in total, will be energy audits for all town-owned buildings, including Town Hall, the town garage, Sharon Center School, the fire house, the building currently occupied by radio station WHDD (RobinHoodradio.com) and the water company office on Calkinstown Road.
The second project will be a dedicated server for Sharon Center School that will run software to automatically shut down computers when theyâ€™re not in use. It will cost $6,000.
Also on the list of projects: The creation of a fund to share the cost of energy audits for 80 residents on a first-come basis; the allocation of funds to pay for any issues surrounding the municipal building energy audits; and funds for other task force energy projects.
The term of the grant is three years, but Heth said the projects should begin immediately.
The second item on the agenda, the approval of expenditures of up to $260,000 for repairing Mitcheltown Road bridge, was also approved swiftly and unanimously.
The funds for the work will come from the townâ€™s undesignated fund and will be reimbursed by a state Local Capital Improvement Program (LoCIP) grant.
The bridge has been closed since August 2009 and needs extensive repairs.
At the town meeting, First Selectman Bob Loucks told the audience that the town was given two options for the repair work from WMC Engineers in Newington.
The first would be to rehabilitate and repair the bridge, extending its life for as long as five years. That would cost an estimated $220,000.
The other option would be to replace the bridge with a box culvert, which has a life expectancy of 75 years, at an estimated cost of $240,000.
â€œAs you can tell, there really isnâ€™t any other option,â€ Loucks said.
Voters agreed,and approved the box culvert plan.
â€œWe hope to use the town crew for the most of the work,â€ the first selectman said. â€œThis vote is the last step in the process.â€
Loucks explained that LoCIP money has been used from the town in the past to improve sidewalks and other capital projects around town.
He said before the project begins, the Board of Selectmen will consult with the Inland Wetlands Commission about the project.
Loucks added the town would also need permission from James Metz, who has property on Mitcheltown Road, for permission to access the bridge through his land.
â€œWhen the water goes down in the brook and we get all of our ducks in a row, I estimate that the project will start in July, or August at the latest,â€ Loucks said.