On April 18 Town officials will bring a nearly $15 million bond proposal to residents to approve for a host of improvements to town roads, schools and facilities. Voting will be held from 12 to 8 p.m. at the High Plains Community Center.
The Board of Selectmen approved the plan for $14,950,000 which will fund projects that include widening Derby Milford Road by the University of New Haven, and the Derby Milford Road Bridge ($10,630,000); making a second driveway at Fred Wolf Park, ($300,000) and paving the parking lots at Turkey Hill School, Race Brook Road School, and the Orange Police Department ($1,041,000). The money will also be used to upgrade the locker rooms and install a new dehumidifier at the Town Pool ($650,000); renovate the exterior of the Case Memorial Library ($119,000); and to purchase a new communication console and generator at the Orange Police Department ($675,000). The south wing and north corridor of the High Plains Community Center are also scheduled to be refurbished at an estimated cost of $550,727. Contingency, financing and issuance costs for the bond are expected to cost $734,273.
First Selectman Jim Zeoli admitted he’s “not comfortable piling on debt” but the scheduled projects need to be addressed. “We’ve put it off as long as we could,” he said, adding that the town won’t spend the entire $15 million up front. “We need to ask for authorization for the entire amount, even if we don’t plan to use it all at once.” He also pointed out that several bonds that the town borrowed almost 20 years ago will be paid off in the next few years.
According to town Finance Director John Cifarelli, the state has promised to reimburse the town $5,380,000 towards the cost of some of the improvements. “Even though the amount of bonding we are asking for is nearly $15 million, if we get state money it’s quite a difference,” Cifarelli said. The state has agreed to pay for all costs associated with the widening and improvements to Derby Milford Road and 50 percent of the costs of the Derby Milford Road Bridge.n “Obviously the state is having budget problems and we won’t know for sure until we have the money in hand but I have a good feeling they will pay,” he said.
Town infrastructure and facilities are pinpointed for improvements and refurbishing depending on which receive the heaviest use by residents. “We try to do the school and places that have the most traffic,” Cifarelli said. “And also places or equipment that haven’t had improvements for years. For example, the Town Pool locker rooms and pool dehumidifier are the original ones from when it was built in 1975. The police communication console is almost 20 years old and is still using analog. It’s always breaking down and it’s difficult to find parts now.”
The town last applied for bond money a few years ago to make improvements to several of the school buildings in town.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent