August 28, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 28, 2014

United Rentals expands in CT

United Rentals, the Stamford-based equipment-rental firm, has added seven new locations in the United States and one in Canada.The company has added branches in Beacon Falls, Conn.; Raleigh, N.C.; Detriot; Cincinnati; Salt Lake City; Southaven, Mo.; Mobile, Ala.; and Brantford, Ontario. United Rentals has 883 rental locations spread across 49 states and 10 provinces in Canada, according to a press release."We're continuing to implement a major expansion of our specialty lines of business, following significant growth in 2013," Paul McDonnell, senior vice president of specialty operations, said in a statement. "These eight openings are part of a broader plan for 2014 that will include additions to all of our specialty lines, including the pump network we acquired in April." The new locations will serve various areas of United Rentals' market. The Detroit, Raleigh, Cincinnati and Salt Lake City branches will offer solutions in engineered power, ventilation, heating and cooling to industrial, commercial and government customers. The Beacon Falls and Brantford locations will provide worker training, engineered excavation support and confined space entry systems, while the Southaven and Mobile branches will be involved in onsite tool management like inventory tracking and maintenance.United Rentals provides more than 3,000 classes of equipment for rentals with a total original cost of $8.42 billion, according to the release. The company employs 12,400 people across the country and has amassed a client base of construction and industrial firms, municipalities, utilities and homeowners. Traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "URI," United Rentals saw its stock fall 69 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $117.64 in trading Wednesday.

New Britain lands $2.7M to raze old police station

NEW BRITAIN — The state is providing $2.7 million to destroy the vacant Columbus Boulevard building that once was police headquarters. The money will also go toward cleanup of the roughly 5-acre property so that it can eventually be redeveloped, most likely for apartments.  "Demolishing and remediating this site will open the door to new commercial and residential development and will be critical in bringing new vibrancy to downtown New Britain," Mayor Erin Stewart said after the grant was announced Wednesday. "The old NBPD station occupies a critical parcel in our downtown area and is immediately adjacent to the new CTfastrak terminal." She praised Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state's Department of Economic Development for awarding the money to the city from a brownfields remediation fund that totals just $27 million for the whole state. Malloy announced awards for 20 communities on Wednesday; only New Haven and Stratford are receiving a bigger share than New Britain's. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

150 apartments approved in West Hartford

WEST HARTFORD — After an often-contentious public hearing that stretched into the early morning hours Wednesday, the town council approved a development plan for 150 apartment units at 243 Steele Road. Council members voted in favor of the plan 8-1, with Democrat Harry Captain casting the lone dissenting vote. Captain said Wednesday that he felt the size of the development would be more suited to a major thoroughfare, and the Steele Road area, "to me feels more neighborhood." But he added that Metro Realty Group President Geoffrey Sager, who proposed the development, "is one of the best developers around, and it was very difficult to vote no because of the quality of this firm's developments." An initial proposal for 200 units in four- to five-story buildings drew heated criticism from surrounding neighbors, so Sager presented a scaled-back plan that reduced building size to no more than three stories and cut unit totals by 25 percent. He also offered to pay for traffic-calming measures in the surrounding neighborhood, and to create parking spaces for teachers at The School for Young Children across the street. Those concessions became stipulations of the council's approval.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

  Middletown officials respond to Veterans Park vandalism

MIDDLETOWN — Two recent acts of vandalism at Veterans Memorial Park have officials worried about the new Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial currently under construction.
Sue Martucci, president of the memorial committee, said windows in two pieces of equipment have been broken at night in the last month. The memorial will include 65 trees and plaques in honor of Connecticut soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. To make sure the memorial pieces are not also damaged, the city will install lighting and cameras to deter vandals. "It's disheartening to know that kids go out and do these kinds of things," Martucci said. "It's created a little bit of a fear factor, but we're pretty confident that once cameras and lights go up it will stop."
Mayor Daniel Drew said the city will also add police patrols in the park.
"We think this was probably teenagers," Drew said. "If we have any minor vandalism incidents or any issues at all, the police will be able to use the video." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

 West Haven gets $2M grant for clean up along West River

WEST HAVEN >> West Haven will receive a $2 million state “brownfield” grant to do environmental clean-up on two parcels slated to be part of “The Haven” upscale outlet mall on the West River Crossing site. The area is adjacent to New Haven Harbor, just on the West Haven side of the Kimberly Avenue bridge. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the grant in Bridgeport Wednesday. It was among several grants the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of Brownfield Remediation and Development awarded to area communities. The Haven has been described by developers Sheldon M. Gordon and Ty Miller as a $200 million, 347,826-square-foot development of about 100 high-end retail shops and restaurants. Their partnership, The Haven Group LLC, has yet to apply or secure approvals for it. The tony waterfront development — the biggest taxable thing proposed for West Haven in decades — would be aimed at an affluent market that extends well beyond West Haven’s borders, its developers have said.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Emmett O'Brien expected to be completed in 2015

ANSONIA >> The first day of school Wednesday at Emmett O’Brien Technical High School was quite a bit different than in previous years. That’s because almost half of the 598 enrolled students hopped aboard buses minutes after attendance was taken to head to one of several sites being used this year for shop classes. Crews have been working all summer on a long-planned addition and renovations to the school, which was built in the 1960s. The construction is expected to cost $94.3 million and is slated to be completed in August 2015, Principal Laurie LeBouthillier said. An official groundbreaking ceremony will be held Sept. 22. The routine at O’Brien includes having two grades in academics and two in shop classes for a certain period of time before it alternates. On Wednesday morning, students scheduled to start shop classes off-site were transported to High Meadows, a former state Department of Children and Families residential treatment facility in Hamden; Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury; and Platt Technical High School in Milford, LeBouthillier said.High Meadows will hold the most, she said, with 203 students going there for plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, computer-aided design, health technology, machine tool and carpentry classes. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

August 27, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 27, 2014

CT puts $62.6M into cleaning up brownfields

The state has invested more than $62 million in cleaning up brownfield sites across the state in the last two years, almost six times the amount spent in the previous seven, according to a memo released by the Malloy administration on Tuesday. Working with private developers, a total of 37 sites in 27 cities and towns, including New Haven, Derby, Middletown and Clinton, have been remediated and turned into housing, a brewery and other uses, the administration said. Most of the sites represent “the scars of the Industrial Revolution, when you had big manufacturing operations right in the middle of downtowns,” said Tim Sullivan, who oversees brownfield development in the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The brownfields, which consist of both contaminated buildings and land, were “creating public health hazards, creating blight,” Sullivan said, before they were cleaned up and put to good use. The state’s involvement is important, Sullivan said, because “In so many cases … the cleanup costs are far in excess of the value of the property.” One example of a turnaround is Two Roads Brewery in Stratford, which received a $500,000 grant through DECD, employs more than 40 workers and is in the center of a revitalized section of town, according to Andrew Doba, spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. According to the memo, conservatively, “for every dollar invested by the state, $3.43 has been or will be invested by non-state partners.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Meriden technical school welcomes back students

MERIDEN — Construction crews were in the final stages of work at Wilcox Technical High School Tuesday, preparing for students to return today.  The students will find an almost entirely new building — the portable classrooms that lined Oregon Road are completely gone, replaced by staff parking. A new courtyard sprawls between wings of the school, and administrative offices have been moved out of the middle of the school to make way for a library and media center.  “It’s a huge change. This is a huge building compared to the tiny building it was before. It’s probably three times larger than when we started,” School Principal Lisa Hylwa said Tuesday.  The project, begun in early 2012, cost $77.9 million. It was paid for by the state. A statement from the state Department of Administrative Services, which oversaw the project says, “The school will open as scheduled. We are in the final stages of the project. The main building is complete, and there is some work left in the annex building, as well as some site work. We are on schedule and within budget...we appreciate the patience and assistance of the Wilcox staff, faculty, and students.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Support for New London pedestrian plan varies

New London — The proposal to tear down the Greyhound bus station to make space for an elevated walkway over the railroad tracks to the proposed National Coast Guard Museum, ferry terminals and City Pier is being met with acceptance among several of the key players downtown, but other aspects of the plan for the overpass are not meeting with universal support. "It would solve a lot of problems if we moved (the bus station)," Rob Sherlin, general manager for Wheaten Solutions, the company that runs the bus station for Greyhound, said Tuesday. The current bus station, in a single-story, 1,000-square-foot building adjacent to Union Station, needs repairs, and there are often traffic problems when buses try to pull up and taxis and other vehicles are in the way, Sherlin said. Greyhound leases the space from the owners of Union Station. Todd O'Donnell, a partner in the company that owns the 29,500-square-foot railroad station and the bus station, said the smaller building is believed to be an addition to the original structure and dates back at least to 1896. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Track and field project delayed at Simsbury High School

 SIMSBURY — The running track and artificial turf athletic field at Simsbury High School will be closed until late September because of renovations, said school Business Manager Burke LeClair.
He said the schools tried to complete the project over the summer, but a delay in awarding bids delayed construction. The town let bids for the artificial turf project in June, but no bids were received by the July 7 deadline. The town had to re-bid the project, and the contract was awarded to G-9 Turf Inc. for $38,900. Bids for the track project were let on July 15 and a contract was awarded July 28 to Cape and Island Tennis and Track for $135,500.  "Both bids came in well within budget," LeClair said. LeClair said the town hoped to complete the turf project first, but the bid delay caused work on the track to begin first. LeClair said the expected completion date for the entire project is Sept. 21. LeClair expects the track to be completed the first week of September, but it will remain closed until renovations to the turf field are completed. LeClair said the field and track were in need of renovations and the schools didn't want to wait until next summer. The artificial turf is receiving a "specialized grooming," LeClair said, that will help maintain shock absorption on the playing surface.

August 26, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 26, 2014

Stamford shuts down BLT construction for pollution problem

STAMFORD -- The city shut down construction of a residential building in the Harbor Point complex after particles of white Styrofoam insulation dusted the adjacent channel of the west leg of Stamford Harbor, state and local officials confirmed Monday. Robert DeMarco, the city's chief building official, said Monday the worksite at 100 Washington Boulevard was shut down Thursday and would remain so until state environmental officials and DeMarco verified the particles were cleaned up, and that netting, vacuums and other measures to prevent another similar problem were dependable. The foam material is not considered harmful, but needed to be cleaned up thoroughly and quickly, and steps had to be taken to prevent further problems, Dennis Schain, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said.
"They cleaned up what was in the water and are going to use some techniques to prevent it happening again," Schain said. "We certainly don't want materials getting into the water when construction takes place." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Mystic Seaport planning $10.5M exhibit building

Mystic - Mystic Seaport is seeking permission from the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission to construct a striking $10.5 million exhibit building at the north end of the museum grounds. Plans call for tearing down the Packard Cabin and North Boat Shed and a section of the G.W. Blunt White Library, which are located around Anchor Circle, the site of the annual carol sing each December. The application states that a large section of the library is unused and it suffers from extensive moisture damage due to a basement that routinely floods. The application states the 14,000-square-foot building is needed because the museum is very limited in its ability to exhibit items from its own vast collection or host traveling exhibits. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Partnership that wants to develop downtown north releases more detailed site plan

HARTFORD — Centerplan Development Co., part of a partnership hoping to develop Downtown North, moved to buy a key building in the area soon after plans for a minor league ballpark were announced. The pending sale of the Windsor Street building — a long-vacant data-processing center last occupied by Bank of America — became public in late June. Centerplan, based in Middletown, confirmed Monday that it moved to acquire the building as soon as it became clear the city intended to seek broad proposals for the entire Downtown North area, spurred on by a plans for the ballpark. The plans were publicly announced June 4. "As soon as we heard there would be [requests for proposals], we pursued the property," Yves-Georges A. Joseph II, vice president of development at Centerplan, said. "We knew it would be an important part of the assemblage." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Malloy touts transportation spending

WETHERSFIELD - For the past three decades, Connecticut governors have touted the amount of money they have spent on transportation. After the Mianus River Bridge collapsed and killed three motorists on Interstate 95 in Cos Cob in 1983, Gov. William A. O'Neill and the legislature passed the largest transportation spending package in state history as officials scrambled to ensure that the roads and bridges were safe. In 2005, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell unveiled a seven-year plan that she called the largest transportation package in more than two decades with the purchase of 342 new state-of-the-art Metro-North Commuter Railroad cars and a repair facility in New Haven. The $1.3 billion package was later approved by the legislature. Not to be outdone, then-House Speaker James Amann announced a 10-year plan that was even bigger than Rell's, saying that would be the largest in state history.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Malloy would support constitutional amendment to protect transit funding

Standing near the Old Main Street bridge in Rocky Hill, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declared that he had “no problem” with a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the legislature from raiding the special transportation fund.   He said when it comes to funding roads, bridges, and transit he believes his administration is spending more money on transportation “than any other administration.”  “You can slice this and dice this on an accounting basis . . . but when everything is said and done, we’re spending more than any other administration,” Malloy said Monday.
Between 2005 and 2014 about $1.3 billion raised by the gross receipts tax — one of the state’s two gasoline taxes — has been spent on non-transportation programs. But Malloy’s administration said that doesn’t tell the whole story since most of that happened during the previous administration.
According to the Malloy administration, the average investment in transportation under former Gov. M. Jodi Rell was $1.097 billion. Under the Malloy administration it’s been $1.265 billion. Rell was in office for six years. Malloy has been in office for three and a half years. However, the Malloy administration has moved money between the special transportation account and the general fund. Malloy argued the amount being spent on transportation is still higher than in the past so the transfers between the special transportation fund and the general fund are negligible. “If there are transfers back and forth for accounting purposes, on a net basis and a gross basis we’re spending more money,” Malloy said Monday. The governor said Monday that his transportation investments are 165 percent greater than the ones approved under Rell in 2010. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

August 25, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 25, 2014

Pro and con to argue Mass. natural gas pipeline

DALTON, Mass. (AP) — Representatives of Kinder Morgan are scheduled to visit western Massachusetts to present their side in a debate over a natural gas pipeline expansion.
The Berkshire Eagle reports ( ) that Dalton officials intend to organize a panel of residents to argue the other side. Kinder Morgan, parent company of Tennessee Gas, is expected to file a preliminary application for the 250-mile pipeline. It would begin in Wright, New York, west of Schenectady, and follow a route through eight Berkshire communities. It would end in Dracut, north of Lowell. The cost of the pipeline is estimated at nearly $4 billion, in addition to $2 billion for a route supplying natural gas. Opponents say the public will bear the cost of construction with higher electricity rates. Opponents in Dalton won a nonbinding resolution against the pipeline.
A handful of people were already gathered around the stone fountain in Glastonbury center when a family of four parked on Main Street and walked to a table in the summer sunset to enjoy their burgers and fries. Nearby, a husband and wife from East Hartford sipped smoothies and an elderly couple looked out onto Hebron Avenue, where several restaurants, some with outdoor dining, have opened in recent years along a walkable one-block stretch. A young man was writing at a table near the fountain. This is village life in a town that decades ago demolished most of its traditional downtown buildings, replacing them with newer shopping plazas, small malls and standalone structures, each with its own parking places. Now, like many towns with a sprawling business district, Glastonbury is working to restore its center as a walkable place where people can gather, complete with color-coded signs showing walking routes. "It's kind of fun to be in the midst of things," said a man who gave his name as Travis, as his family set up to eat. But it's only fun to a point. Travis and his wife, Laura, chose Glastonbury six years ago in part because the developing downtown scene is quieter than the bustle of West Hartford Center. "That might make it too crazy," Laura said. "You want restaurants, but at the same time, it's nice not to be in an urban environment." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Economic development tour in North Haven highlights progress and opportunities

NORTH HAVEN >> The town’s first Economic Development Tour was a success, and there could be another one next year.  Members of the Economic Development Commission, First Selectman Michael Freda, representatives from Quinnipiac University and the New Haven Chamber of Commerce and a United Illuminating representative toured the town’s development sites that include works in progress, potential revenue opportunities and those that could pose a challenge. Frank Maher, a member of the Economic Development Commission, thought it made sense to give members of the commission a visual idea of development sites they sometimes only hear about.  “I thought it went quite well and we got a lot out of it. Hopefully, there’s an opportunity to do it again next year,” Maher said.  Richard LoPresti, chairman of the commission, would welcome the idea for another tour.  “Let’s hope that due to our efforts, that there will be new places for development and some new updates (on existing sites),” LoPresti said.  The tour started at the North Haven Memorial Library and made about 13 stops, including at the Cinemark Site, Yale-New Haven Hospital Walk-In Center, Pfizer, Pratt & Whitney and the proposed train depot.  “All in all, it was great. ... It was interesting to hear folks say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that was here’ or ‘that it’s good to finally see what he’s (Freda) talking about,’” LoPresti.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

August 22, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 22, 2014

Hartford vets ballpark, development proposals

Hartford city officials conducted interviews Thursday with the three groups vying to develop Downtown North into a retail-residential-commercial development that includes a minor league baseball stadium.  Mayor Pedro E. Segarra said the analysis of the development bids will continue for the next few weeks. The city will then make a recommendation to the City Council around the first week of September. The city also released more details about the development proposals.
Boston-based CV Properties LLC is proposing a $217 million development with Gilbane Inc., Kage Growth Strategies, and HFF Inc. Their development proposal includes:
  • 6,000 fixed-seat stadium
  • Hooker Brewery located directly across the street from stadium entrance
  • Live/work space
  • Supermarket with covered parking
Centerplan Development Co. & Leyland Alliance are pitching a $350 million project with Sports Contracting Group, JCJ Architecture, Urban Design Associates, Freeman Companies, BETA, McDowell Jewett, Greenskies Renewable Energy, and CTL Capital. Their development proposal includes:
  • 6,000 fixed-seat stadium
  • Elevated Little League park
  • Hooker Brewery
  • Letters of intent from two prominent supermarket operators

Infinity Music Hall & Bistro: Anchor to Front Street

HARTFORD — Hundreds of guests streamed through the doors of Infinity Music Hall & Bistro for its grand opening Thursday, with every expectation that the music venue will provide a major boost to the city's nightlife. But whether that happens will depend on the many people who weren't there — the ticket buyers. "We hope the public does its part and attends these great shows," said Dan Hincks, Infinity Hall's founder. A lot is riding on the success of Front Street's largest venue. Infinity Hall is seen as the anchor of the entertainment district. The city views the music hall as key to attracting more visitors to downtown, especially at night. Taxpayers are hoping that a state investment of more than $1 million will pay off.  Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, speaking at the grand opening, said he believes that Infinity Hall will live up to all the anticipation, which has been building during 17 months of construction. Hincks and Infinity have a proven track record at their first venue in Norfolk, Malloy said. "We've seen it succeed in Norfolk though some of the toughest economic times," Malloy said. Infinity opened in 2008, "only to be followed in Connecticut shortly after that by the Great Recession. But to not only survive that, but to increase its footprint here, is remarkable." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Developer revises plans for New Haven Olive Street project

NEW HAVEN >> A developer with city ties revised his plans for a major Olive Street development that extends back to Union Street, opening up more community space and making it less dense as the neighbors had asked. Noel Petra and John Greenspan pitched their vision at the Downtown/Wooster Management Team meeting Tuesday as they start the approval process to construct between 275 and 285 apartments ranging from studios and two-bedroom units, which would appeal to graduate students, to three-bedroom units for families. Petra, whose grandfather founded Petra Construction, said they want a mix of renters and will be putting upscale materials into the project to appeal to baby-boomers who want to move back to the city into quality housing. The proposal, which would be adjacent to the apartments being constructed by Spinnaker Residential on the Comcast site at the corner of Olive and Chapel streets, will bring almost 500 apartments to Wooster Square within a few blocks of the nearby Shore Line East train station. When they are constructed it would means thousands of new people in the area, Petra said, to use businesses and to encourage more to locate in the area of Union Street, which is now a no-man’s land between downtown on one side and Wooster Square on the other. Petra’s wish is to convince owners of businesses and land along Fair Street, now a dead end off Union Street, to sell him the land so Fair Street can continue through to Olive Street. Petra envisions it as a well-lighted, one-way street leading off Olive Street back downtown to keep more people from cutting through Wooster Street to get onto Interstate 95. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Naugatuck welding firm ordered to stop working on New Haven project

A Naugatuck welding company was one of two contractors to receive stop-work orders Thursday from the state Department of Labor at a construction site in New Haven. Steel Vision Welding Contractors, of 36 Beebe St. in Naugatuck, and Integrated Construction Services, or ICS, of Bay Shore, N.Y., were each issued the orders for failing to have Connecticut workers' compensation insurance coverage for renovation work at 205 Church St. in New Haven, according to Nancy Steffens, spokeswoman for the Labor Department. "You have to have Connecticut insurance in order to work in Connecticut," Steffens said. She said Steel Vision also received its stop work order because "it appears that (they are) also making cash payments to workers." She said the company must prove to the state they are paying workers "the correct amount" and are withholding the proper deductions for workers' compensation, and state and federal income taxes. Steel Vision did not respond to a request for comment. ICS officials were not available for comment Thursday.
It was not known how many workers Steel Vision and ICS employed at the construction site, part of an office building that is being converted to residential apartments. Last month, a different contractor, Regional Wall Systems of Florida, received a stop-work order for subcontractors that were also paying workers in cash and the lack of payroll records. The order was lifted about a week later, Steffens confirmed. The New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which has protested the treatment of workers by subcontractors at the site, issued a news release stating that the lack of proper insurance could affect not only the workers, but taxpayers as well. "Lack of worker's compensation insurance means that these contractors are reaching into the pockets of the public — if a worker gets hurt and falls, then the taxpayer is on the line for the bill," Tim Sullivan, organizer with the union, said in the news release. He added that, because this is the second time stop-work orders have been issued on the project, it shows a "pattern of behavior." The union said the construction site is owned by Cooper Church LLC, a subdivision of First Service Residential New York, and that Klewin Construction is named as a construction manager. The union also said workers "fled" the scene when Labor Department agents arrived. Steffens said that does happen. "It is not unusual for the employees to initially leave the work site because they are uncertain at first what is going on, and their first instinct is to leave," she said. "When they find out we (are) from CTDOL, they are typically very good about answering questions." Steffens added that agents usually have a Spanish-speaking inspector with them to ask questions if there is a language barrier. The companies can resume work on the site once they offer the state proof that they have state workers' compensation insurance and can show payroll records, Steffens said.

August 21, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 21, 2014

Town to receive funding for spring bridge work

A pair of bridges in Gaylordsville will be the first beneficiaries of a new arrangement agreed on recently by the New Milford Town Council. The council approved a Local Bridge Program Fiscal Year 2015 commitment with the state Department of Transportation to fund bridge repairs and replace. Bridges targeted for work are over Bull Mountain Brook at the southern end of Mud Pond Road and the bridge over Morrissey Brook on Gaylord Road at the Sherman town line.
State Department of Transportation funding for the projects will be $235,000 of the $440,000 cost of repairs for the Mud Pond Road bridge and $500,000 toward the $1.6 million replacement cost of the bridge along Gaylord Road. Work is anticipated to begin during the 2015 spring construction season.
Groups seek state grant to connect southeastern Connecticut's water lines

August 20, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 20, 2014

Developer still pitching Depot Square options

Renaissance Downtowns may be down, but it’s not out. The developer hasn’t backed off its long-term $280 million plan for Depot Square, despite a consultant’s dim view of the project.
Instead, Renaissance has two alternatives before the Bristol Downtown Development Corp. to get the project underway before the May 26, 2015, deadline for starting construction. And members of the BDDC, the nonprofit group created to oversee the 15 acres remaining for development, are keen to see if it’s possible to work out an acceptable deal to retain Renaissance.
Jennifer Arasimowicz, the chairwoman of the BDDC’s board, called it “a controversial subject” that deserves careful scrutiny. She said the BDDC will hear from the public at a hearing sometime in mid-September and will make its recommendation to the City Council in October. The council will have the final say. Both Renaissance plans require public financing. Option A calls for construction of a 100-unit, market-rate apartment building parallel to the railroad tracks near Main Street. It would require $6 million in public funds to help cover an $18 million price tag. Option B, which the BDDC asked Renaissance to provide, would instead begin the project with a 138-apartment building whose first floor would be entirely devoted to retail shops, restaurants or other commercial uses. A $1 million public piazza would be created behind the structure, which would face Main Street. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
SOUTHINGTON — Construction work at the town’s middle schools will not affect the start of school next week.  The work this summer is part of ongoing $89.7 million renovation project. Construction will continue right up until the start of school on Aug. 28.  “There was so much work done this summer, it’s difficult until you step back to see pieces coming together,” said Fred Cox, a town consultant on the project, during a meeting of the Middle School Building Committee Tuesday. “Contractors will be working right up to the eleventh hour.” Kennedy Middle School Principal Steve Madancy said contractors were working “weekends, nights, you name it.”  “They all deserve a pat on the back,” he added Construction is in its second year with the project scheduled for completion in late 2016. Dave Girardini and Mike Pane, both of Newfield Construction, gave a progress report to the building committee. Girardini said many of the new areas at DePaolo are being cleaned for the start of school, including the parking lots. Newfield is the project manager Pane said that a lot of cleaning is also being finished in the new classrooms at Kennedy. “Movers start tomorrow to start moving desks and items in,” Pane said. A technology package for the schools was also recently approved by the state Department of Education. It includes smart projectors, wireless access points and shelving for new media centers at both schools. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
PLAINVILLE — A developer's recent interest in converting former Linden Street School into housing for the elderly could spare the shuttered school from demolition But comments Monday night by developer Ted Lazarus did not deter the council from a unanimous 7-0 vote approving an ordinance authorizing the sale of bonds to pay for the $2.6 million demolition and from scheduling a referendum vote on the demolition in November. That gives the developer time to make a detailed proposal if research convinces him that the project makes sense, council member Christopher Wazorko said Tuesday. "While we did vote to send demolition to referendum, I think the council would be open to reconsider if the developer comes back with a feasible proposal," Wazorko said. "I know I would. It's a win-win if he can make something of the building."  Lazarus, of Park Lane Group LLC of Litchfield, said Tuesday that he learned about the former Linden Street School on Monday before the meeting, had a quick tour and concluded it may be a good candidate for renovation into housing. "I would have had more details for the council if I'd hadn't learned of this property Monday," Lazarus said. "By all indications, it's a wonderful building to consider for elderly housing. It's worth a second life." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Advocates to candidates: Find money for CT's transportation network

Transportation advocates challenged Connecticut gubernatorial candidates to support increased funding to overhaul the state’s aging infrastructure – even if it likely means tax increases or tolls.
The coalition of nearly three dozen -- including construction trades and businesses, seven chambers of commerce, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and numerous regional planning agencies – also challenged the candidates to participate this fall in a debate on transportation issues.
“Connecticut’s next governor has two choices: provide safe and efficient transportation, or allow our infrastructure to crumble,” Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, said during a late morning press conference at Union Station in Hartford. “Maintaining the aging system of roads, bridges and rail lines in a state of good repair is critical for the safety and reliability of the system that the vast majority of the traveling public are using every day.”
A number of signs point to a potential transportation crisis in Connecticut’s near future, advocates said: CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


August 19, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 19, 2014

Renaissance plans for Depot Square unlikely to succeed

BRISTOL — A consultant hired by the city to review plans for the former mall site threw cold water Monday on the proposed Depot Square project pushed by the developer officials chose to revitalize the 15-acre property.
“We don’t think it’s likely to be successful,” said Michael Goman, principal of the East Hartford firm of Goman+York Property Advisors. “There are probably better options out there.” Goman said city should try to turn the empty lot on North Main Street into “an authentic place” — perhaps a huge public piazza — that could anchor downtown and catalyze economic development in the area around it. “It’s a wonderful site for this kind of public venue,” he said, and could include space for concerts, a farmers’ market, outdoor movies, classes and public art. The $18,500 study sought by Mayor Ken Cockayne reviewed the financing plan and earlier documents submitted by Long Island-based Renaissance Downtowns, which has been working on a proposal for the site since 2010. Goman’s firm looked only at the initial financing plan for the site, which called for a 100-unit, market-rate apartment building parallel to the railroad tracks near Main Street. Renaissance had said it would cost about $18 million and require public financing for $6 million of the cost — about $7 a year from the average homeowner in Bristol. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New CTfastrak buses roll into view; transit project nearly complete

NEW BRITAIN  — The first of CTfastrak’s shiny new 40-foot feeder buses groaned to a stop on the Harry Truman Overpass Monday afternoon and disgorged a bus-load of dignitaries. Those with picture phones snapped postcard views of the nearly completed New Britain station several feet below them. The new 40-foot bus built for service on the CTfastrak bus rapid transit system left the state capitol building following its unveiling and a press conference that included Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and representatives from the Department of Housing, Housing Finance Authority, Department of Economic and Community Development, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Office of Policy and Management. Redeker told The Herald the project is on schedule, and service is expected to begin the final week of March 2015. The new fleet of hybrid diesel-electric buses will include 30-foot buses to provide neighborhood circulator service and 40-foot buses to operate connector routes. The main line service will be operated with 60-foot articulated buses that will begin to arrive in the fall. All the new buses will feature GPS tracking so riders can find out where their bus is, LED lighting and free WiFi service. Redeker said there will be “even-level boarding — the height of the boarding is the same height as the platform. Doors will open and you simply walk on or off.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Officials say impact of street construction should be minimal to Meriden schools

MERIDEN — As work on Gravel Street continues, town and state officials say they’ve taken steps to minimize traffic issues once school starts next week.  The $8.7 million reconstruction is being overseen by the state Department of Transportation and is expected to finish in November 2015. Work on Gravel Street and Baldwin Avenue will include new drainage systems, improved sight lines, widening in some areas and new pavement. In the beginning of the summer, workers on the street project were working alongside construction crews at Maloney High School to replace the drainage system that discharges into Willow Brook. “We finished up over there by mid-June,” said Mohammed Bishtawi, DOT supervising engineer, adding considerations have been made for more work near the high school, which is in the midst of its own $107.5 million construction project.
Bishtawi said crews are set to finish new sidewalks and curbs along the northbound side of Gravel Street before school starts Aug. 27, meaning that work in front of Maloney should be complete. “We should be totally done with the school area before school starts,” Bishtawi said.
Crews are replacing the drainage system on Baldwin Avenue. Bishtawi expects to finish by the time school starts, as Baldwin Avenue runs alongside Nathan Hale School.   Public Works Director Robert Bass said detours have been planned while work continues on Gravel Street in the coming months. One side of the street will remain open throughout reconstruction.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
As opening day for the CTfastrak approaches, state transportation and economic development officials are working to attract business and housing growth along the 9.4-mile corridor.
A busload of state officials toured the route Monday, stopping at several stations in Newington and West Hartford where they hope to encourage creation of nearby retail shops, apartment complexes and commercial office buildings. In Newington, they look at the gleaming new shelters and benches at a stop almost next door to the derelict old National Welding building, a long-abandoned industrial hulk that is scheduled for demolition. It may be the premiere site along the busway for large-scale commercial development, planners say. In downtown New Britain and at the Parkville and Elmwood stops, Lyle Wray envisions new residential development.  "If you build condos at Elmwood, it's just out the door to five or six restaurants. A lot of the amenities are already there, like they are in Parkville — food, shops, restaurants, a 7-minute trip to downtown," said Wray, a longtime busway advocate and executive director of the Capitol Regional Council of Governments. Wray predicted that people living near the route will be drawn to the service, even if they're skeptical about it now. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Better paying jobs stage a comeback in US labor market

The recovery in America’s job market is finally spreading to industries with good pay after years of being concentrated in fields with low wages. Hiring has picked up steam in areas such as construction, manufacturing and professional services in recent months — sectors with a median hourly wage of at least $20. Nearly 40 percent of the jobs created over the past six months have been in high-wage industries, compared with just a quarter during the last half of 2013, according to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) for The Washington Post. Meanwhile, growth in many low-paying jobs has leveled off or even declined. “I often hear that the recovery is only in low-wage jobs. That is categorically inaccurate,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in an interview. “This recovery is creating a lot of good jobs.” If those trends hold, economists say it could mean that the bumpy road back from recession is beginning to even out — particularly if it means that more jobs with better pay can help boost household income. When averaged across all occupations, the median hourly wage has fallen 3.4 percent since the recession, after adjusting for inflation, according to NELP research to be released Monday. Many economists, including Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, have pointed to an increase in earnings as one of the key missing pieces of the recovery.Yellen and dozens of other top economists from around the world will convene in Wyoming this week to discuss the health of America’s labor market. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Klairdes wants CT DOT to reassess Woodbridge road project

WOODBRIDGE >> State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, is meeting Tuesday with residents opposed to a road project and wants the state Department of Transportation to “reassess” the plan because its engineering report was done in 2004. Klarides could not be reached for comment on a previous story about the issue this week. Part of the miscommunication was related to a reporter’s telephone problem. A group of residents who live near the intersection of routes 63 and 67 are fighting the scope of a project to widen the intersection and install a traffic light and a crosswalk.
Residents say the DOT collected data for the project in 2004 and that makes it outdated. DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick has said the work will make the intersection safer and more efficient. Nursick said residents rarely complain about a traffic signal being put in — it’s usually the opposite.
Klarides’ office had released what appeared to be two conflicting press releases on the subject July 10 to July 28.  The first was in favor after she met with DOT officials, including engineers.
The second release stated concerns, and said she believed “following public outcry, that the project will diminish road safety.”

August 18, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 18, 2014

Corps to rebuild banks to protect city water supply

MIDDLETOWN >> The Army Corps of Engineers has chosen a Rhode Island company for a $1.3 million riverbank rehabilitation to protect Middletown’s drinking water supply. The Corps announced in July that Providence, R.I.-based civil and environmental engineers RC&D Inc. will shore up the quickly eroding riverbank adjacent to the John S. Roth Municipal Well Field off River Road, beginning in early September. City water and sewer Director Guy Russo explained that, while the state Department of Public Health requires a 50-foot setback from the river and the well field had once enjoyed a healthy cushion in excess of that figure, soil erosion had brought the river lapping to the edges of the required setback. “This has been an ongoing problem for 10 years,” said Russo. “Even in an emergency such as this, it takes a long time to fund and investigate.” But, said the director, the Corps is well-equipped to handle the remediation, and both DPH and the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have been instrumental in organizing the project. “The work consists of stabilizing approximately 1,300 feet of riverbank along the right bank of the Connecticut River,” Robert Russo, a project manager for the Corps. “The work is required to stabilize the shoreline and prevent further erosion of the riverbank, which has threatened the city’s well field and public water supply.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Part of State Street to close for Meriden Hub project

MERIDEN — The northbound lane of State Street, beginning at East Main Street, is expected to be closed for months so work can proceed at the Meriden Hub. An announcement on the city’s website said the street was supposed to be closed beginning Thursday, Aug. 14. But it remained open and work had not started near State Street and East Main Street. City Planner Dominick Caruso said he is not sure when the street will reopen. Motorists are encouraged to use Pratt and Mill streets. The general contractor, LaRosa Construction, will be doing significant excavation near the corner and the street will need additional support to keep it in place, said Public Works Director Robert Bass.
“They have to drive sheet (pilings) in order to support the roads and to support the soil,” Bass said
Connected sheet piles create a wall used to keep soil in place. In this case, it will also keep the street and the lane closest to the Hub in place. The southwest corner of the Hub will be at a higher elevation than much of the property, allowing for a “overlook” of the entire park, Bass said. Harbor Brook will flow directly under the concrete overlook area and people standing there will be able to see the brook flowing into the culvert under State Street. Some trees and an area with benches are planned near the intersection. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Bristol to hear report on chances for downtown redevelopment

BRISTOL – An outside firm is scheduled to tell city leaders and the public on Monday night whether it sees a feasible way for Renaissance Downtowns to put together a team of investors to redevelop downtown. East Hartford-based Gorman & York Property Advisors has been reviewing Renaissance's proposal for building apartments on the site of the old Bristol Centre Mall.
Three years ago, Renaissance proposed a complex of mid-rise towers with apartments, commercial offices and first-floor retail, along with a 100-room hotel and a public plaza
But with no sign of major investors stepping forward, the company this year announced it would have to begin modestly with just one apartment tower — and would need city financing even for that. It suggested $6 million in municipal bonding, which drew howls from opponents and disappointment even from some of the company's advocates. Renaissance has acknowledged that major retailers won't be interested in downtown until there's a higher concentration of people — particularly younger, more affluent ones. It also said potential investors in any new market-rate housing complex are leery of downtown's demographics, which are skewed heavily toward the poor and the elderly. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Woodbridge residents, CT DOT officials clash on intersection work

WOODBRIDGE >> Residents who live near the intersection of Routes 63 and 67 are trying to fight the scope of a project to widen the intersection, install a traffic light and crosswalk. Resident Peter Aaronson, a leader in the group, said the project has a long history before work began last spring. He claims the plan is “based on old data” and “flawed analysis” of the data. The group released its own report and maintains the project will lead to more problems, including congestion, more accidents and pollution. “We may not win, but we’re not going to stop,” Aaronson said of the project underway through the state’s Department of Transportation. Aaronson called DOT officials “hardcore bureaucrats” who “need to continue to get a revenue flow to support government.” DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said work on the $3 million project will continue. Nursick said the traffic signal will “efficiently and safely” allow for traffic operation at the intersection. Nursick said the road will be lowered by three feet to improve the sight line on Route 63, which will also be widened to allow two northbound lanes, one of which will be a through lane and the other a turn lane. “This is one of the few cases I can recall where someone’s upset a traffic signal is being installed,” Nursick said. Usually, he said, DOT is criticized for not installing traffic signals. To confuse matters, State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-114, flip-flopped on the matter in press release statements between July 10 and July 28, but would not return telephone calls asking for an explanation. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Highway construction drops 11% in June

Highway construction work dropped sharply in June, wiping out market gains from the previous seven months amid uncertainty over the federal aid highway program and the Highway Trust Fund, according to an American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) analysis of federal data. According to the data, the real value of highway work was $4.2 billion in June 2014, down from $4.7 billion in June 2013, when adjusted for material prices and inflation. This was the first month-to-like-month decline since November 2013 and the largest such decline in the past year. Highway construction had been showing some gains in early 2014, but the recent decline means that contractors have performed $17.8 billion in pavement work through the first half of 2014, compared to $17.4 billion in the first six months of 2013. The real value of bridge construction was $3 billion in June, increasing by three percent compared to June 2013. The pace of bridge work in 2014 continues at record levels, reaching $13.4 billion in the first six months compared to $12.9 billion during the same time period in 2013. Year-to-date growth is mostly flat across all other modes. The real value of construction work on railroad projects for January to June 2014 was flat compared to January to June 2013. Airport work was down 5.8 percent, while the real value of construction work for ports and waterways was up 3.7 percent.

August 15, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 15, 2014

City reviewing vision for downtown redevelopment in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN >> A development consultant has turned in a concept plan to the city that makes a case for residential and commercial development downtown. Centerplan Development Company and the Leyland Alliance, whom the city hired to perform a market study and draft a concept plan for downtown development, turned in their final report to the Department of Planning, Conservation and Development on Aug. 11. Michiel Wackers, who heads up the planning department, stressed that Centerplan’s concept plan is merely “a feasibility report about possibilities.”  The hypothetical development comprises open green space, high-rise construction, subterranean parking and a completely overhauled downtown block where Metro Square currently sits. Everything, however, seems to hinge around a newer, bigger parking lot where the Arcade parking lot is now. The city’s parking department has made initial overtures to the Common Council to bond $24 million for a new, four-story parking garage. Director Geen Thazhampallath has said that the city should anticipate $6.9 million in federal aid to offset that price tag. Wackers has said that new commercial and residential lots would depend on parking to support them. “Our goal is that this garage will support long-term development,” Wackers told the Press.  All in all, Centerplan suggested that Metro Square and several parcels across Dingwall Drive could be the future sites of 100,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants and more than 400 residential units. Centerplan commissioned a market study from Robert Charles Lesser & Co., who reported that there was particular demand for health and personal care retail, as well as “building materials, garden and supply” and “electronics and applicances.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Clinton eyes retail, dining, homes for Morgan school site

CLINTON >> The vast hulk of a building that is The Morgan School could be replaced by a bucolic development that draws together the elements of village life — retail stores, places to dine, private homes, walkways — surrounded by greenery. The opportunity to develop that vision on what some consider the most valuable retail property in Clinton — the current site of The Morgan School on Route 81 — has been granted to Mill Pond LLC of Essex, developers whose past projects extend throughout southern New England and in Washington, D.C. Selectman endorsed the firm’s selection in their meeting Wednesday, leaving ahead of them the formidable tasks of negotiating with the developers the terms and purchase price for the property, as well as gaining the approvals by the finance and zoning boards, and finally a vote to endorse the deal by a town meeting. The town has approved construction of a new high school on property further north on Route 81, away from the busy interchange with Interstate 95 that makes the current school’s location and its 39 acres such an appealing candidate for commercial development. While not a recent appraisal, the property has been valued at $5 million as it currently stands, with the sprawling school building in place. The proceeds from the sale would be used to defray the $64.7 million cost of the new high school — of which the state is paying $19.1 million — in addition to producing new tax revenue roughly estimated at $500,000. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Killingly council establishes town's repayment portion of loan to upgrade sewer plant

KILLINGLY — The Killingly Town Council this week approved a resolution — with caveats — that states the town will contribute approximately $2.5 million in general funds toward a loan repayment for a proposed sewer plant upgrade. The council's decision on Tuesday was predicated on voter approval of the overall $25.8 million project to refurbish the town's 43-year-old waste water treatment facility. If voters approve the plan, the council, at a later date, would have to pass a separate ordinance to access the general fund money. Officials said the treatment plant overhaul will address several concerns at the aging plant, including replacing aging infrastructure and tweaking the systems that filter nitrogen and phosphorous to meet more stringent state and federal discharge regulations. The project cost also includes funding to demolish the former Danielson borough water treatment plant, which consists of several 70-year-old buildings near the town’s Little League field complex on Wauregan Road. A pump station in Rogers also would be upgraded as part of the project. A public hearing and town meeting on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday, with a machine vote on Sept. 9.
"Those meetings and the vote will only be about the project itself," Town Manager Sean Hendricks said. "To include a question on the ballot on the general fund proposition would be putting the cart before the horse." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Officials hit the switch on Hartford landfill solar array

The Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority has turned on a new one-megawatt solar panel array at the Hartford landfill alongside I-91. MIRA, formerly called the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, turned the system on in mid-June after capping the six-acre section of the landfill upon with the 3,993-panel array sits. Earlier this month, MIRA asked the Public Utilities Resources Authority to classify the system as a Class I renewable energy source, which will allow it to generate renewable energy credits. MIRA will sell those credits — equivalent to one megawatt hour a piece — to Connecticut Light & Power for $110, or 11 cents per kilowatt hour, according to the application. MIRA would also sell excess power to CL&P for the same base price, but with a variable price on top of it set by grid operator ISO New England, according to David Bodendorf, senior environmental engineer at MIRA. Bodendorf estimated that the solar array may bring in approximately $200,000 in income per year. The landfill is the first in Connecticut to generate solar power. The panels sit atop a cap made of artificial turf designed to protect the landfill's methane gas collection system. The Closure Turf cap, made by Georgia's Watershed Geosynthetics, and solar generators were installed East Berlin's Tecta America. Massachusetts-based E.T. & L. Corp. is general contractor for the landfill project. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Manchester completes $5M in construction projects

MANCHESTER — When the 2014 construction season ends, the town will have completed about $5 million worth of road improvements, Public Works Director Mark Carlino said Thursday.
Carlino recently updated the board of directors on completed, ongoing and planned road work. One completed major job was the milling and resurfacing of Middle Turnpike from Green Manor Boulevard to Brookfield Street. General Manager Scott Shanley said at the directors' meeting Tuesday that the formerly pot-holed section had been the subject of many complaints.
Major projects slated to start soon include the resurfacing of bridge decks on three spans over I-384 — Keeney, Prospect and Wyllys streets. The Wyllys Street project also will include milling and paving the section from Highland Street to the area of the one-lane Spring Street bridge, Carlino said. The work is to begin later this month or in early September, he said. Woodland Street from Broad Street to Main Street will also be resurfaced, starting at the end of this month. Woodland Street from Broad Street to Main Street will also be resurfaced, starting at the end of this month. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

U.S. Equipment rental revenue projected to exceed $51B in 2018

The equipment rental industry in the United States is expected to generate $35.8 billion in revenue and outpace gross domestic product (GDP) by more than four times in 2014, according to the American Rental Association's (ARA) latest forecast from the ARA Rental Market Monitor. Economic data and analysis for ARA Rental Market Monitor are compiled by IHS Inc., the leading global source of critical information and insight. In the United States, total equipment rental revenue is forecast to grow 7.6 percent in 2014 to reach $35.8 billion, 10.5 percent in 2015 to reach $39.6 billion and another 10.2 percent in 2016 to reach $43.6 billion, surpassing the previous industry record of $36.9 billion in 2007. The growth rate is expected to be 8.9 percent in 2017 and 7.7 percent in 2018, with total rental revenue of $51.2 billion. “The U.S. economy slowed more than expected in the first half of the year, but equipment rental demand has remained strong and rental growth will still handily outperform the overall economy. Looking forward, commercial construction and housing starts will contribute to growth in the construction and industrial and general tool segments,” said Scott Hazelton, managing director of IHS Global Insight. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Employment in Waterbury

Catherine Awwad's job ought to be the easiest job in Waterbury. The agency Ms. Awwad leads, the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, is supposed to bring employers and job hunters together — and incredibly, it seems to have more of the former than the latter, in a city with the second-highest unemployment rate in Connecticut. "The jobs pay anywhere from $15 an hour for entry-level laborer work to $45 an hour for high-skilled heavy highway construction jobs," the Republican-American's Penelope Overton reported Monday. Child-care assistance? Check. Transportation help? Check. Free tools and toolbelts to use on the job? Check. Yet incredibly, just 14 applicants entered the program's training component in late July, and "after that, the bucket is empty," Ms. Overton wrote. The agency staged a job fair Wednesday afternoon at Kennedy High School in hopes of drawing more people into the workforce. Waterbury's unemployment rate is 10.4 percent, second only to Hartford in Connecticut at 12.3 percent. Many more undoubtedly are underemployed.
It's easy to blame political progressives for providing for unskilled people rather than shepherding them into the ranks of working people, or conservative business people for refusing to give inexperienced people a chance. And indeed, the workforce agency needs to challenge its own assumptions regarding strategies for attracting eager applicants for training and jobs.But whether the agency is doing all the outreach it should be doing, this one's on the people of Greater Waterbury and the other communities the agency serves — young people, in particular — for failing to exploit a splendid opportunity to start an honorable, well-paying career in the trades.

August 14, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 14, 2014

City council faces fork in the road about mall construction project

BRISTOL – After a summertime lull, there’s suddenly a flurry of activity surrounding the former downtown mall site. Pieces are going to be falling into place within days that may well determine whether the long-awaited project gets underway next spring or if the city’s chosen developer winds up leaving town. A special joint session of the City Council and Bristol Downtown Development Corp. has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday to review downtown revitalization recommendations from a consultant that officials quietly hired this summer to go over the plans for the proposed Depot Square development. Mayor Ken Cockayne said that Goman + York Property Advisors, a high-powered East Hartford firm, will present its review in a report that will be made public. Other officials said they anticipate a lengthy document that will likely be made available online. They said councilors may hold a closed-door executive session to discuss financial details after receiving the consultant’s paperwork. Plans for an executive on negotiations with Renaissance Downtowns that had been slated for Wednesday’s council session were canceled as attention shifted to the Monday meeting. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Council hears from public, approves $21M bond for police station

BERLIN — In a well-attended public hearing regarding the bonding of $21 million for the construction of a new police headquarters on Farmington Avenue, no one who spoke said they opposed the project.
However, there were plenty of questions and concerns — primarily regarding the effect on taxes.
“I’m not against this project, I’m just asking for full disclosure,” resident Kari Drost said. “… How is it going to increase my taxes? Is it going to be $100, $200, $500 a year? That’s what I need to know.” Town Manager Denise McNair said taxes may increase once the full impact of the $21 million needed to move the project forward is felt. The full brunt will not occur until the fiscal year 2017-18, when all the borrowing is complete. At that time, using present day assumptions, of the average property owner’s tax bill, $134 per year will be put directly toward paying off the bond for the police station. How much taxes will go up to offset that is unknown. McNair said the financial stewards of the town will make it  -- as much as they can -- so the cost is absorbed into what property owners are  already paying. Following the public hearing, the Town Council approved the $21 million bond across partylines, with the majority Democrats outweighing its GOP counterparts 4-3. A final decision will likely come at a referendum in November. A referendum is mandatory if a petition gains 377 signatures.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Enfield High School construction continues

While Enfield students will return to the schools on Sept. 2 after enjoying a summer off, the work hasn't stopped on the construction projects currently underway at Enfield High School.
The Enfield High School Building Committee has been hard at work since December 2012 and has been meeting on a regular basis to ensure steady and consistent progress working toward the goals of the referendum passed in November 2012. According to the committee, the construction for the new high school includes multiple phases. There will be several new additions to the building, with the largest being the Enrico Fermi STEAM wing. This will house the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math programs. Existing structures will be treated as "Renovate as New." This means that all existing portions of the school remaining when construction is complete will have been updated and the school will be 100-percent compliant with all applicable codes. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Farmington residents express concern about treatment plant project

FARMINGTON — While some residents expressed concerns about the town's proposed $57.24 million sewer plant improvement project Tuesday, officials said the town could stand to lose up to $12.3 million in state grants if the project isn't approved by voters. Town Manager Kathy Eagen said that the town is working toward presenting the project at a November referendum. "If it doesn't pass, the state will mandate the town to take action on upgrading the facility," Eagen said at the council meeting Tuesday. "The town might lose the grant funding opportunity  Michael McLaughlin of Worthington Drive asked the council how much of the cost of the project will be borne by Avon, Burlington and Canton, who use the Farmington facility.  Eagen said each of the towns and the UConn Health Campus file permits with the state that shows how much they use the treatment plant. She said those towns and the health center are projected to contribute about $9.26 million toward the project. "If they go past what their permit requires, we do have the option to go back and charge them more for the use," Eagen said. Eagen told residents that the first year, the upgrade will increase taxes by $133, but that amount will decrease by about $6 each year over 20 years. Eagen said because the water treated at the Farmington facility is used by the schools, municipal buildings, other towns and the UConn Health Campus, the project comes down to a public safety issue because the current facility doesn't meet state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection requirements. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

August 13, 2014

CT Construction Digest August 13, 2014

Get Steel point through stretch

Given the delays that have characterized the evolution of the Steel Point development project since it first came up more than 30 years ago, we hope now that the first major component of the project -- construction of a Bass Pro Shops -- has moved into the home stretch, that city officials will be able to bring it home smoothly. Bass Pro Shops, the Missouri-based sporting goods retailer, submitted its application for a foundation permit to the city on July 24.  The application should get a thorough review, for sure, by the city's building-associated departments, but the application is also entitled to expedited consideration. Though Bass Pro Shops was not even a twinkle in the eye of anyone in Bridgeport in 1983, that was the year that two development groups were competing for the right to develop what then was described as a 110-acre plot known as Harborpointe.  Initially, with Republican Mayor Leonard S. Paoletta in the mayor's chair and Alderman Ernest E. Newton ensconced as president of the city council, Harborpointe was described as a $700-million project that would include townhouses, high-rise offices, luxury condos, stores and a convention center, with the first units to be built by Spring 1984 and the complete project to be built out over 20 years. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Milford gets money for bridges

NEW MILFORD -- The Town Council approved entering into the Local Bridge Program Fiscal Year 2015 commitment with the Department of Transportation to pay for bridge repairs and replacement.
Two bridges are targeted through the program: the bridge over Bull Mountain Brook at the southern end of Mud Pond Road and the bridge over Morrissey Brook on Gaylord Road at the Sherman town line.  Both bridges are in the Gaylordsville section of New Milford. DOT funding for the projects will be $235,000 toward the $440,000 cost of repairs to the Mud Pond Road bridge and $500,000 toward the $1.6 million replacement cost of the bridge on Gaylord Road.
Work is anticipated to begin in the spring 2015 construction season.
Big changes eyed for Southington Hospital

The Hospital of Central Connecticut plans to reconfigure and expand services in Southington, while eliminating 15 inpatient beds at its Bradley Memorial campus. The project, in its initial stages according to hospital officials, will include the construction of a new “state of the art” emergency department and ambulatory care center “in a more convenient location.” Tentatively, that location is the Knight’s Inn on Queen Street. The current structure would be torn down and replaced with a new “bigger and bolder” facility, said Lucille Janatka, president of Hartford HealthCare’s central region, which includes HOCC and MidState Medical Center in Meriden. It would be one of five standalone emergency departments in the state. A developer to be named would build and own the building. The plan calls for the current Bradley campus to be repurposed, with a focus on services for the aging. An ambulatory surgical center for orthopedics is a start of the new focus, and will open within a month, Janatka said. The process will take two to three years to implement. During that time, community involvement will be a critical part of the planning process, said Trish Walden, vice president of Hartford HealthCare’s Senior Health Services for the region and project manager for the Bradley reconfiguration. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction Institute executive director to retire

Bill Cianci, the long-time executive director of the Construction Institute at the University of Hartford, will retire on Dec. 31. Cianci served the Construction Institute for 28 years, overseeing the growth of the organization that acts as an industry group and an educational resources for all the many players in Connecticut's construction industry, ranging from property owners to contractors to government agencies to architects to engineers. UHart and the institute's board are looking for a successor to Cianci. The board began searching this month and expects to have a new executive director identified before Cianci's departs. During his time as executive director, Cianci oversaw the spread of the institute's reach from Greater Hartford to all of Connecticut. He advocated for new programming like the Visionary's Form, building information modeling, and the major programs series. The Construction Institute was founded in 1975.

Plans to build power house in Oxford resurrected

OXFORD - Plans to build a gas power plant on the northern town line are being resurrected despite some opposition. Competitive Power Ventures is proposing to build a 805-megawatt facility on an approximately 20-acre site in the Woodruff Hill industrial complex. "The growth that Oxford is having now, and will have in the near future, will be promulgated and helped very much by the addition of this power plant," said Andrew McGeever, economic development director of Oxford. Not all residents agree. At several town meetings held to address this topic, there has been a "mixed reaction," said Oxford's First Selectman George Temple.  Sone residents of neighboring Middlebury are even less pleased. "It's like a nightmare for the town," said Middlebury First Selectman Edward St. John. The plans for the project originally belonged to Calpine Corp about 15 years ago, but after the business went bankrupt, General Electric took ownership. GE held onto the project for several years, but sold it to CPV within the last few years, said McGeever. GE is a minority partner in the current project, acting as an investor. Although the original plans for the power plant already have been approved, CPV must get permission for design changes, said Andy Bazinet, director of development for CPV. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Officials break ground on Litchfield Courthouse

TORRINGTON >> One of the shovels on the small pile of gravel had a sparkling white ribbon.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, the special guest on Tuesday during a groundbreaking ceremony on Field Street for the $81.4 million Litchfield Judicial District courthouse, thought it might have been for her.
But she was stopped in her tracks before she laid a finger on the instrument. “That’s mine, Nancy, don’t touch it!” said State Rep. Roberta Willis, D-64, as laughter broke out.  Willis has seen the project unfold since joining the legislature in 2001, helping bring it back to the attention of the state after nearly 30 years of dormancy. Willis had been storing the shovel since 2002, waiting for this day. She emphasized the courthouse’s long history by handing out a timeline of the project compiled by the legislative research office. “I know the commissioner said he was going to bring me a shovel,” Willis said. “I said, ‘No,’ I’m bringing my own shovel.” Willis said the building will have a positive impact on the local community and the judicial community.  “I think there was a lot of us who didn’t believe that this was going to happen, or at least within our lifetimes,” Willis said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT lobbies for upgraded freight rail line system

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) From the port of New London on Long Island Sound north through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and into Canada, a 390-mi. (627.6 km) freight rail system linking New England to the rest of the Northeast lacks a key element: a 21st-century rail line in Connecticut. Elected officials in Connecticut, backed by regional business owners and Genesee & Wyoming Inc., owner of New England Central Railroad, are lobbying federal transportation officials for $8.3 million to upgrade railroad tracks to accommodate heavier freight and move more products to market. New England Central is contributing $2 million. Officials said it would be the first north-south heavy rail capacity corridor in Connecticut and could lead to expanded passenger rail service in eastern Connecticut. “You can see point-blank the rail line is rusty, bolted together, not that stable in terms of bearing weight,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., one of several elected officials lobbying for the federal money. The New England Central Railroad moves commodities such as lumber, panels, plywood, newsprint, printing paper, compressed gas, chemicals, fuel oil and construction debris. The Great Recession hit New England hard, but business is returning, said Charles Hunter, assistant vice president of government affairs at Genesee & Wyoming. Rail also looks attractive in comparison with truck transport, which relies on rising gasoline prices, he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Middlebury strongly opposes proposed Oxford power plant

MIDDLEBURY -- Competitive Power Ventures says an 805-megawatt power plant in Woodruff Industrial Park would bring millions of dollars in tax revenue and up to 500 new jobs to Oxford, but residents in neighboring Middlebury don't see much benefit for their community. The town strongly opposed similar plans to build a 512-megawatt plant there 15 years ago, and the latest plan rekindled First Selectman Edward B. St. John's concern for Middlebury's residential neighborhoods nearby.
"This plan is beyond the pale," he said Tuesday. "We're going from 500 to over 800 megawatts. The last project was bad. This one is worse." The town spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs to fight the original proposal by Towantic Energy in 1999. The Connecticut Siting Council, which has jurisdiction over power plants, approved those plans. But Towantic's parent company, Calpine Inc., went bankrupt in 2005 before construction could start. GE Energy Financial Services acquired the right to build the plant from Calpine in 2007. Project Director Andrew Bazinet said last week that the permits will be updated in about six to nine months, allowing CPV to break ground on the 26-acre property in the second half of next year. The Middlebury Board of Selectmen recently reappointed Ray Pietrorazio as the town liaison for the power plant project. "We're known to be fighters," St. John said. "We will continue to do that. The town of Middlebury doesn't get one benefit out of it." St. John says Middlebury opposes the power plant for environmental and safety reasons.
Pietrorazio, who is also the town representative for Waterbury-Oxford Airport, believes having a power plant within a half-mile of an airstrip can cause aviation hazards due to height and visibility problems from the smoke stacks, which are "like a fog machine." Before the Siting Council can decide on the proposal, Pietrorazio said, an approval from the Federal Aviation Administration is needed, adding the FAA had denied an extension of a past approval requested by Towantic. "To have this fast-growing, dynamic airport ruined by this power plant doesn't make sense," he said. "It's ludicrous." Pietrorazio said the plant would be pumping out sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide — harming wetlands and posing health risks to residents, especially those with asthma.
He is also concerned over the amount of water to be used and the "huge amount of discharged water" the Naugatuck Treatment Plant would have to handle before it flows back into the Naugatuck River.
Many of the same concerns are being expressed at the grassroots on the Facebook page of Citizens Against CPV Oxford Energy Plant, started by a Middlebury resident who lives close to the property.
St. John does not want a power plant at Middlebury's border. "This has virtually no impact on Oxford, because it's in its upper northeast corner," he said. "We would have no objection if Oxford moved it to their town center."