April 28, 2017

CT Construction Digest Friday April 28, 2017

East Windsor Rejects Ordinance, Referendum On Proposed Casino

Residents packing a town meeting Thursday night defeated a proposed ordinance that would have imposed regulations on a potential casino in town and could have scuttled an agreement to develop a gambling venue at the former Showcase Cinemas.
In a 198-112 vote, residents voted against the ordinance and a push to bring the issue to a townwide referendum.
"This is good," First Selectman Robert Maynard said after the paper ballots were counted. "Now it is up to the legislature to decide."
In March, the board of selectmen signed an agreement with MMCT Venture, a partnership of the operators of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino, to build a satellite casino on the Showcase property. The East Windsor gambling venue would be part of a strategy to keep gaming revenue and jobs tied to the industry in Connecticut as the opening of a $950 million casino and entertainment in Springfield draws closer.
Any expansion of casino gambling still needs legislative approval, which is not a lock in the current session. Three casino expansion bills — one favoring the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans and two others pushing a competitive process inviting more proposals — are still pending.
The town meeting tested not only the sentiment of residents for the proposed ordinance but how well voters were accepting the possibility of a casino being built in town.
"This proposed ordinance is about doing something the town already does plenty of – regulating what, where and how certain private and business activities can be carried out in our neighborhoods," said Brianna Stronk, the resident who proposed the ordinance.

North Stamford residents want answers on Riverbank bridge; city hopes for quick fix

STAMFORD — A group of North Stamford residents are fuming over how the city has handled the replacement of a structurally unsound bridge in their neighborhood, a project officials hope to finish by the end of the year but say could be held up by red tape.
Wildwood Association board member Jerry Blair said he’s “pissed off” with the level of communication he’s had with Mayor David Martin about the Riverbank Road bridge, which was blocked off this month after the state Department of Transportation deemed it unsafe for vehicles.
“You can’t just do this and not tell anyone you're doing it,” the Pinnacle Rock Road resident said. “He’s spinning us and no one wants to be spun.”
The city notified residents on April 7 of the closure. Martin said he’s trying to speed along the project because of the safety issues presented by the closed roadway — the detour would delay emergency vehicles getting to the area. Homeowners have also complained of traffic backups and speeding on Wildwood Road.
“Excessive speeding through our 25 m.p.h. neighborhood streets has been an issue and has definitely increased since the detour,” said Wildwood Association co-president Sandi McLaughlin, adding that a stoplight is needed at the corner of Wildwood and Long Ridge Road. Moving ahead with a $1.3 million replacement of the small stone bridge, which spans the east branch of the Mianus River between Laurel Ledge Road and Hedge Brook Lane, requires permits from city and state agencies that could take months to secure, Martin said. The city must also hire a contractor for the project, which is partially funded by the state Department of Transportation.
“We’re working on getting this done quickly for traffic flow and the safety of those who depend on the bridge,” Martin said. “We’re trying to get those bureaucratic jobs out of the way so we can get it done as quickly as possible.”
The mayor’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Carlson said Martin has spoken with Blair over the phone and his assistant has responded to Blair's emails. His office has scheduled a public meeting with the Wildwood Association and other neighbors on May 9 to discuss the bridge. The association serves some 300 homes in the wooded neighborhood. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Rain And Pole Removal Delaying Glastonbury Roundabout Project

Rain and telecommunication poles still in the road right-of-way have delayed the start of the roundabout project at Hebron Avenue and New London Turnpike.
Daniel A. Pennington, the town's director of physical services and town engineer, said the intersection's traffic light was originally scheduled to be removed Thursday and lighted traffic drums and large cones installed and lines painted to simulate the counter-clockwise roundabout flow. That won't happen until the poles and wires owned by Frontier Communications are relocated away from the roundabout right-of-way and there's a dry period to paint the lines.
"We were on track, but the rain delayed things as well as the poles that still need to be yanked out," Pennington said. "We have no definitive date of when the project will begin. It really has to remain flexible and weather-dependent. It's the nature of the construction business."
For the past month, other utility companies have moved their poles or placed wires underground. Construction crews have been working outside the roadway, widening each corner in preparation for the roundabout installation. When work begins, the northern portion of New London Turnpike from Hebron Avenue north to Welles Street will be the first portion of the roundabout spoke to be closed.
Temporary pedestrian crossing points will be created and police officers will be present to direct traffic during the construction. All businesses within the project area will remain open during construction with vehicular access maintained at all times.
 A key legislative committee Thursday approved funding for renovations to Hartford's XL Center, but it cut deeply into what had been recommended by the governor.
The finance, revenue and bonding committee approved $40 million for 2018 and $30 million for 2019 as part of the much larger capital improvement budget that the committee is sending for debate in the full House and Senate.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy had recommended $50 million in 2018 and $75 million in 2019 to fund a $250 million top-to-bottom makeover of the 40-year-old arena in downtown Hartford. The renovation has been proposed by the Capital Region Development Authority after an extensive study and would likely stretch out over three or four years.
Even the scaled-down version faces opposition in the broader General Assembly, with one Republican legislative leader arguing that public funding should not be devoted to the project, given the state's precarious fiscal situation.
"Absolutely not," said Sen. Len Fasano, the Republican president pro tem. "This is not something state government should be doing."
Fasano said private financing should be sought for the renovations. The GOP presented its budget proposal Thursday but was still working on a capital improvement package. Fasano said the package isn't likely to include funding for the XL Center.
Michael W. Freimuth, the authority's executive director, declined comment Thursday.
In the finance committee meeting Thursday, some members expressed concern about the cost of the renovations and not having enough details to justify such an expenditure.
Rep. Christopher Davis, R-Ellington and ranking member of the committee, has been among those critical of funding for the XL Center when other parts of the state budget are taking deep cuts. Davis said scaling back on the initial investment would give time to revisit the scope of the project at a time when the state is dealing with significant budget woes. "I'm not sure a city the size of Hartford needs to have a ... 20,000-seat arena when we don't have a professional team that can fill that arena 30, 40, 50, 60 guaranteed nights a year and generate the revenue that's needed to pay for that size arena," Davis said.
Davis said he hopes the $250 million price tag will drop and that private financing might be sought for some or all of the project.
Rep. Patricia B. Miller, D-Stamford, said the state has an obligation not only to maintaining the XL Center but supporting a venue that contributes to the vibrancy of the state's capital city.
Miller said she toured the XL Center recently and was surprised by what she saw.
"Some of the equipment is 44 years old — older than me ... I'll be honest with you, I was appalled during the tour at what I saw," Miller said. "We need to step up to the plate and make repairs."
The latest renovation plan would come on top of $35 million in the last few years to spruce up the arena. Those renovations were intended to keep the XL Center viable until a long-term plan — the $250 million renovation now envisioned by the authority — was developed. Another $3.5 million has been approved to replace a near-failing ice-making system and other improvements. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Developer to rework Hamden housing proposal; residents vow to fight

HAMDEN >> The developer of a proposed apartment complex on Rocky Top Road said Wednesday he is withdrawing his application and will resubmit one that addresses the concerns of neighbors.
And while neighbors cheered the withdrawal, they also know the fight is far from over.“We aim to strike a balance and resubmit a full set of plans addressing the neighbors’ concerns to the town soon,” said Gary Richetelli, president of Mountain View Estates. “This project would create hundreds of construction jobs and pay close to a million dollars to the town of Hamden, all while providing much needed affordable housing and meet the State of Connecticut requirements.”Mountain View’s application called for 288 apartments and was filed under the state’s affordable housing statutes, which means a portion of the apartments would have been rented under the state’s income guidelines. The application also included the removal of hundreds of thousands of yards of fill, essentially taking the top off the Rocky Top mountain. Some residents at an Inland Wetlands Commission public hearing charged that the construction would be the equivalent of running a gravel pit for the several years it would take to build the complex. But Richetelli said there are residents who have told him they support the application.
“While much of the feedback at the hearings concerned density, traffic and wetlands, we have also heard from many other town residents who believe there is a need for affordable housing in Hamden, and there is a desire to live or stay in Hamden,” he said.The plans, when resubmitted, will reflect what they heard from residents at the public hearing, Richetelli said. “The development company would like to make changes to the plan that takes into effect some of the public concerns that have been addressed throughout the hearing process thus far,” he said.“While this may feel like a victory, it is only a small reprieve from all of our hard work. We should not lose focus but dig in even deeper,” said Rainbow Court resident Tim Mack. Mack has organized with his neighbors to fight the application, hiring an attorney and filing for intervener status on the application. Those efforts will continue, he said.“We will continue to grow our base and should double in size as more Hamden neighborhood associations join us in our fight to save Rocky Top,” he said. And they’re ready to do everything they have done so far all over again, he said.“When a new application is submitted, the organization will again have to petition for a new public hearing, reapply for the intervener status and resubmit its testimony,” he said. “We are not against development but require smart development that coincides with the surrounding neighborhoods and natural habitats.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE D

Developers for The Haven project in West Haven get approval to buy two more parcels

WEST HAVEN >> The developers seeking to build The Haven upscale outlet mall off Elm Street along the West River and New Haven Harbor took another step this week toward securing the land they need, gaining City Council approval to purchase two more properties within the Haven South project area.
That leaves only the four properties tied up in court over the city’s efforts to take those properties via eminent domain proceedings outstanding. Gary O’Connor, the outside attorney handling the issue for the city, said that on that litigation real progress has been made and everyone has the hope “that there will not be a July court date,” as is currently scheduled.The City Council voted by an 11-1 margin Monday night to approve a resolution agreeing to sell city-owned properties at 0 Center St. and 395 First Ave. to The Haven Group LLC for $23,750 and $198,125, respectively, and adopt land disposition agreements for both.The First Avenue property is a house. The property at the Water Street end of Center Street is vacant. The council’s sole Republican, Councilman David Riccio, R-At Large, who plans to run against Democrat Mayor Ed O’Brien in the November election, voted against the sale, saying he couldn’t vote to sell the developer additional property because “I don’t see anything happening there.” Council Chairman Jim O’Brien, D-6, was absent.Both figures represent 125 percent of the properties’ appraised values, O’Connor said. O’Connor told Riccio, who made the statement during a meeting of the council’s Redevelopment Committee, that “the developer has invested over $25 million” and have every incentive to complete the project. “There are certain economies of scale when the developer owns all of those properties,” O’Connor said. “I do development work all over the state” and it often looks as if “nothing is happening, until something starts happening.”Then people start to believe, he said.The closing is expected to take place two weeks after the approval, O’Connor told the council. The Redevelopment Agency and the Planning and Zoning Commission both previously recommended approval of the sale, he said.The Haven developers Sheldon Gordon and Ty Miller have proposed to build the $200 million, 347,826-square-foot waterfront development project in two phases, with about 60 stores and seven restaurants in the first phase and about 100 stores if both phases ultimately are built. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State investigation of Woodridge Lake proposal that would impact Torrington continues

 TORRINGTON >> The investigation of a proposal to connect a sewer pipeline from the Woodridge Lake housing development in Goshen to the Torrington sewer system remains in progress, state Department of Public Health spokeswoman Maura Downes said Tuesday.
The most recent development in the matter, according to Downes, was a March 6 meeting between officials with DPH and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. During this meeting, DEEP officials said they were concerned that an “adverse decision” by DPH would create a precedent “(inferring) that mere presence of sewer pipes are prejudicial to public health.” The statement was included in a presentation with a letter from DPH Commissioner Raul Pino to Frederic Lee Klein, an attorney representing the Woodridge Lake Sewer District.  The decision would create a precedent, impacting 130 of 214 public drinking water surface watersheds in the state and 93 municipalities, DEEP officials wrote as part of the presentation. The Torrington Water Company has objected to the proposal from the Woodridge Lake Sewer District because the pipeline would run through a section of the Allen Dam reservoir.
The Goshen portion of the pipeline would run from Route 63 to Pie Hill Road, then to East Street South and Route 4, while the proposed Torrington portion of the pipeline would run along Route 4 from the Goshen/Torrington line to Lovers Lane, then on to Riverside Avenue. Torrington water officials worry that such a pipeline, if it were to break or become damaged, would impact local water sources and customers’ service. The Woodridge Lake Sewer District was established in 1970, according to DEEP, with sewage facilities designed for 200,000 gallons per day constructed in 1974. A permit for 40,000 gallons per day of sewage was issued that same year, according to DEEP.WLSD officials indicate that this permit was to last for one year in a timeline posted on their website, and that DEEP, then the Department of Environmental Protection, “(agreed) with the 200,000 gallons per day design to operate collection system, sewage treatment plant and disposal fields under a groundwater discharge permit.” Engineering reports on the “ridge and furrow system” employed by Woodridge Lake were not approved through the 1980s, according to DEEP, “due to unresolved technical issues.”The permit was modified in July 1989 to allow for 100,000 gallons per day, according to DEEP, after a consent order was issued. WLSD describes this change as a limiting of the amount of sewage the development could allow to flow, as DEEP was “concerned about disposal field capacity.” An engineering plan was accepted in 1996, according to DEEP, which “stated that the hydraulic capacity of the ridge and furrow system under optimal conditions equaled 34,000gpd(.)” The acceptance of this report was rescinded between 2001 and 2003, according to DEEP.  Another report was completed during this period in 2005, which, according to the WLSD, sent “a Facilities Plan to DEP with two alternatives: upgraded plant and disposal fields or pipeline to Torrington both costing approximately $10 million,” which was rejected as DEEP indicated that sand filtration would be required. No progress was made until 2010, according to DEEP, when the sewer district board changed. As part of the posted timeline, DEEP said that “enforcement action forthcoming if WLSD doesn’t address outstanding items by June 30, 2010,” with an action plan agreed upon in July 2010.Testing in 2012, according to WLSD, showed that 105,000 gallons, on average, was flowing per day through the system — 50,000 of wastewater and 55,000 of groundwater filtering into the system — and that “tests of disposal fields capacity (showed) favorable results in range of 125,000 gpd.”CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE   

April 26, 2017

CT Construction Digest Wednesday April 26, 2017

In Brookfield, building enthusiasm at Four Corners

BROOKFIELD — The transformation of the Four Corners area is quickly taking shape.
Two of the four buildings that will make up Brookfield Village, a mixed-use development that will be the nucleus of the area, are about halfway through construction and expected to be completed by the end of the year. Bids are due by May 12 for the accompanying streetscape project planned by the town with the help of state grants.
Adding to the momentum is the formation of the Brookfield Town Center 4 Business, a group of business owners that will form an association to support each other and the area. The group plans to form an LLC next month, said Kathy Creighton, owner of Body Vision Personal Training and one of the owners spearheading the group’s formation.
Creighton said she and a few other owners have tried to form a business association in the past, but the construction of Brookfield Village allowed them to “reach critical mass” in getting other business owners on board.
“I think Brookfield took a proactive step and it’s needed in the area,” Creighton said of Brookfield Village and town’s planned streetscaping. “It will be nice to have sidewalks and better lighting. It’s good for public safety and health. I think the village gave the momentum for us to get other owners involved.”
Other business owners currently involved with Brookfield Town Center 4 Business are John Matos, of Panchos & Gringos; Tania Porta, of Brookfield Funeral Home; Rebecca Corna, of Union Savings Bank; and Angelo DaCunha, of Brookfield Cleaners and Tailors.
Creighton said Betsy Paynter, Brookfield’s economic and community development manager, has also been instrumental in helping to launch the group.
Creighton said there are about 60 businesses in the Four Corners area now, but she expects there to be close to 100 when Brookfield Village is completed. A project of Unicorn Contracting, the development will include four mixed-use buildings with nearly 24,000 square feet of street-level commercial space and 72 apartments. The two buildings that make up Phase One are still under construction but have already changed the landscape of the area.
“We’re getting good interest now that the buildings are up. People are talking about it and I’m getting calls every day,” George Walker, a real estate broker with Advantage Commercial Realty, said. “I’m pleased with the quality of what I see going up here. It has a great design and lends itself well to the village concept. This will bring this area back to life.”
Walker is the retail broker and the self-proclaimed marketer for the project. He is seeking restaurants, a coffee shop, retailers and other service providers for the ground-level commercial spaces. He said tenants who commit early can take advantage of prelease deals by the landlord, including financial allowances based on the project’s seven-year tax abatement.
“It’s got to be the right mix. All of the restauranteurs I’ve spoken to are very interested in the outdoor dining areas,” Walkers said, adding the project will include multiple patio areas and a large courtyard. “We’re looking for restaurants and retailers who can play off these outdoor areas.”
The streetscape, which will be done in three phases, will include sidewalks, improved lighting and planters. Eight utility poles will be moved to not disrupt the flow of the sidewalk. The state also approved 27 new parallel parking spots. Greg Dembowski, project manager, said bids are due by May 12. The bids will be compiled and recommendations given to the state DOT. Dembowski said he expects work to start in June and be completed by November, around the same time as Phase One of Brookfield Village. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT budget process collapses amid dissension

The General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee failed to adopt a $41 billion budget proposal Tuesday afternoon as Democrats were unable to hold together a paper-thin majority on the panel.
And as leaders from both parties blamed each other for the committee’s failure to act — two days before its Thursday deadline — everyone also acknowledged there was a chance the tax-writing Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee might not finish its work before its allotted time runs out on Friday.
Sen. Cathy Osten of Sprague and Rep. Toni E. Walker of New Haven, the Democratic chairs on the appropriations panel, announced at about 3 p.m. that a vote would not be held.
“It was made clear that many of the people who were participating” in preparing the plan “were still voting no,” Walker said, referring to Republican members of the Appropriations Committee.
Both Senate and House Democratic leaders said they had the votes to pass what they called a “compromise budget” – but it would not have been fair to ask their members to vote on a package that they had to give so much on without any Republican votes.
“I can tell you that Senate Democrats were ready to vote on this budget,” said Osten of the stalled plan. “We were not able to reach consensus amongst the House members.”
Democrats said it appears now that Republicans on the budget panel never planned to support any of the tough choices needed to balance the next state budget.
“It is a problem when you do negotiations and only one person has to carry all the weight,” said Walker. “I am very disappointed.”
“Let’s not forget, the Republicans haven’t voted for a budget in 10 years,” Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said. “…So I’m not sure if they just got nervous and decided to walk away.”
The GOP made big gains at the polls last November, which left the Democrats — long in the majority in the legislature over the past two decades — with little margin for error in the difficult task of crafting a state budget.
The Appropriations Committee has six Democrats and six Republicans among its 12 senators, while Democratic representatives outnumber Republican House members by just two, 21-19. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said the plan they put forward earlier in the day, had about 85 percent agreement with Republicans.
That means if just one Democrat is prepared to vote agains the plan — and if Republicans are united in opposition — it could fail in a deadlocked vote. And after hours of talks in a closed-door caucus Tuesday afternoon, Democrats weren’t unanimous in support of the budget plan presented by leaders.
GOP will release its budget by the end of the week
“It was obvious they didn’t have the Democratic votes to push that budget through, for one reason or the other,” said Senate Republican leader Len Fasano of North Haven.
Fasano said Republicans, who hold half the seats in the Senate and nearly match Democrats in the House, will produce their own budget by week’s end. It will require no new taxes, he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Caterpillar First Quarter Results Top Expectations

Shares jumped 6 percent in Tuesday premarket trading.
For the three months ended March 31, the Peoria, Illinois, company earned $192 million, or 32 cents per share. That compares with $271 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.
Stripping out restructuring costs, earnings were $1.28 per share. That easily beat the 62 cents per share that analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research called for.
Revenue rose to $9.82 billion from $9.46 billion. That topped the $9.36 billion in revenue that analysts expected.
For the year, Caterpillar Inc. now predicts adjusted earnings of $3.75 per share, with revenue in a range of $38 billion to $41 billion. Its prior guidance was for adjusted earnings of about $2.90 per share, with revenue between $36 billion and $39 billion.
Analysts polled by FactSet are looking for earnings of $3.25 per share on revenue of $37.9 billion.
Caterpillar is having a tumultuous year, announcing that it would move its headquarters to the Chicago area. Last month it denied it had broken any federal tax laws after its headquarters and other facilities were raided by a number of federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service.
Caterpillar has been challenged for some time by federal agencies in regard to its accounting practices and said that the raids may have been related to a Swiss business, called CSARL.— AP

New London OKs plans for Hygienic amphitheater project

New London — Plans are moving forward for the first of a series of enhancement projects at the Hygienic Art Galleries and Art Park, the flagship for art and culture in downtown.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission last week approved plans for the nonprofit’s $300,000 amphitheater project, a 60-by-60-foot artistically designed roof to cover the art park’s outdoor seating area that could triple the number of performances there.
The Hygienic this week also announced a new initiative to raise funds for a facelift at its historic building at 79 Bank St. and to provide for the ability to boost programming.
Hygienic Director Sarah McKay said it was an exciting time to be part of the long-standing leader in the arts activism scene and expects public support for the projects to help the Hygienic reach its goals.
“In addition to being able to serve the resident population through providing access to the arts, music, performance and cultural programs, we will continue to bring visitors to downtown New London and triple our impact on growing the local economy,” McKay said
Installation of the 3,600-square-foot roof, designed by Holtzman Design Inc. of Chester, is expected to start in September and not interrupt the Hygienic’s summer lineup. It will be called the Frank Loomis Palmer Amphitheater in honor of the organization’s longstanding support for the art park and sizable donation toward the project.
McKay said that ideally the project will be completed before the Hygienic Howling Halloween Bash.
Funding for the project is nearly completed but more public support will help propel the “Hygienic 3.0” facelift at its historic 79 Bank St. building CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

NPU: Extending water connection into Sprague could have regional benefits

NORWICH — The town of Sprague could benefit from a proposal by Norwich Public Utilities to extend an emergency water connection into the Baltic section of town, NPU officials said Tuesday.
And that project could boost state funding for other NPU water system projects that benefit the region, NPU General Manager John Bilda told the NPU Board of Utilities Commissioners.
The 10,000-foot connection would supply Sprague with up to 60,000 gallons of water per day. The main would extend from the intersection of Taftville-Occum Road and Bridge Street in Occum to a location to be determined in the center of Baltic, Bilda said.
“The opportunity exists for some state funding to increase the amount of grant funding available to us to do some of the projects that we’ve embarked on over the last four to five years, in terms of level of grant funding in exchange for extending this main out on Route 97,” Bilda said.
The preliminary cost estimate for the Sprague work is $3.2 million, according to NPU.
The extension would be designed as a permanent emergency supply connection for Baltic.
“The facility would be in place in the event that Sprague has a water quality issue or a water quantity issue,” Bilda said. “That’s the original purpose. Will that expand at some point? That remains to be seen.”
NPU would potentially be eligible for reimbursement through the state Department of Public Health’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund of up to 50 percent of the project costs and up to 30 percent of the NPU treatment and distribution system project costs.
Those distribution system project costs add up to an estimated $15.25 million. They include improvements at NPU’s Stony Brook Water Treatment Plant and Deep River Plant, as well as the Occum water storage tank.
“This is going to help multiple towns and improve the region’s water system, not just Norwich’s system,” NPU Operations Manager Chris LaRose said.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

April 25, 2017

CT Construction Digest Tuesday April 25, 2017

200 turn out for 30th anniversary of L’Ambiance tragedy

BRIDGEPORT — It’s probably safe to say that if you were in or around Bridgeport on Thursday, April 23, 1987, at 1:36 p.m., you remember where and when you were when you first heard of the L’Ambiance Plaza collapse, the worst construction accident in Connecticut’s history, instantly claiming the lives of 28 workers.
For thousands living, working and going to school within a half-mile radius of the lift-slab collapse, the news was announced by the shaking of ground followed by the rumble of huge prestressed concrete slabs pancaking on top of one another.
Then there was silence, a “deafening silence,” as recalled by the Rev. Michael A. Boccaccio who, in 1987, was assigned to St. Augustine’s Cathedral, which became a source of comfort to the scores of people left adrift by the loss. The cathedral, and its school, Kolbe Cathedral High, were less than 200 yards from the disaster and its acres of twisted beams and broken concrete.
It was in Kolbe’s gymnasium where scores of family members waited, hoping against hope in the days that followed that their husbands and fathers would somehow be found alive. They were being counseled by social workers and clergy of all faiths. But there was no good news to be had; all 28 had died within a second or two.
“When a deceased worker was found, the silence was tangible, deafening, and I dare say it was almost beautiful to see everyone coming together in that moment of sadness,” Boccaccio said. “We was so taken by this experience, my respect for civil servants was multiplied by one million.”
He was speaking at the 30th anniversary ceremony of the L’Ambiance collapse, the worst construction accident in Connecticut’s history. Speaker after speaker reminded the audience, gathered around the south steps of City Hall, that the cause of safety in the workplace is one that requires constant vigilance. “We all know where we were on that day, and families had just celebrated Easter, a celebration of renewal, and when that building collapsed, their world collapsed as well,” said U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. “There are still workplaces just as dangerous. I’ll be going back to Washington today to consider a budget submitted by the president that would cut workplace safety enforcement by more than twenty percent.”
The senator read from a letter from a construction worker who was at the site on that fateful day. “He wrote: ‘I served in Korea. In combat you know that there’s a chance you might not go home. That shouldn’t happen when you go to work.’ ”
Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier agreed. “Every sixteen hours, a worker dies on the job,” she said.
It was easily the largest turnout that the annual remembrance has seen in years. Last year about 40 turned out for the 29th anniversary observance. Monday’s gathering saw about five times that number. The fickle weather of spring has sent many of these ceremonies inside City Council chambers, but Monday’s weather cooperated; it was seasonably cool without wind nor rain.
“The pain never quite goes away,” said Paula Gill, of Somers, who with a quivering voice spoke in honor of her father, Richard McGill, who died in the collapse. “It was a terrible day, but one thing my father taught us was to do what you love and I’m sure if he had to do it all over again, he would have done the same thing.”
Gill was accompanied at the lectern by her sister, Patty Charette, of Ellington; both were little girls when their father died.
Another child left fatherless in attendance Monday was Anna Maria Andarowski of Torrington who was 11 when her dad, Angelantonio Perugini, died. Now, one of her daughters is that age.
“There was the call — someone from the worksite called,” she said. “Then I heard my mom scream. My brother wasn’t there — I ran to the neighbors to get help.”   CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Next phase of Route 15 ramp work underway in Wallingford

WALLINGFORD — The state Department of Transportation is moving into the next phase of work to relocate the Route 15 northbound Exit 65 on-ramp.
As part of the $4.3 million project, the Exit 65 on-ramp will be moved to allow access from Hall Avenue instead of River Road. The ramp will be lengthened to improve safety. Motorists will be able to accelerate and merge onto the highway instead of entering from a stop. Work is 90 percent federally funded and 10 percent state funded.
DOT announced in a statement Monday that as part of the next phase of construction, a shoulder will be closed along Route 15 northbound to allow for the new on-ramp to be installed north of the bridge. The project, which began in April 2016, has been broken into 10 phases, the DOT said. This phase is expected to be complete by early June. The entire project is scheduled to be complete by August, DOT added.
Matthew Vail, who is managing the project for the state Department of Transportation, has said the new lane will prevent accidents.
“Now you’ll have a proper acceleration lane to gain speed and match the speed of the traffic on Route 15,” he said. “We’ve had quite a few accidents on Route 15 northbound with that on-ramp. You have people going from stop to high speed” leading to more rear-end accidents.
In July, several trees were taken down along Route 15 north to allow for the construction of a new ramp.
Colleges often talk to local companies to gauge their future workforce needs, searching for opportunities to build new programs to help fill the gaps and attract students amid a competitive higher-ed market.
The latest focus has been on the state's energy industry, as evidenced by new degree programs at Farmington's Tunxis Community College and Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.
The fledgling programs, which each have their own niche and were designed based on discussions with utilities, energy companies, business associations and others, were created because of a perceived growing demand for energy efficiency and concerns that companies won't be able to find enough qualified replacements for an aging workforce. Besides traditional college-age students, both schools' programs are also targeting continuing education for those already working in the industry.
"We can always use good people who are well trained in this area," said Dave Bebrin, a senior engineer at Eversource who teaches part-time in the Tunxis program. "I don't think there's a lot of training around the energy-efficiency area."
Tunxis' two-year energy management associate's degree program focuses on the skills needed to work in the commercial and industrial efficiency sector, in positions such as energy auditors, who assess energy consumption and prescribe ways to reduce it, and facilities managers.
They're careers that pay somewhere between $40,000 and $60,000 a year, according to the program's marketing materials.
Meanwhile, SCSU's program is a business administration bachelor's degree with a specialization in utility management, meant to prepare students for utility company positions in risk management and accounting, among others.
Looking for traction
Tunxis launched its energy management program, spearheaded by director Eric Gribin, in the fall 2016 semester.
Gribin invited a reporter to meet with students and teachers earlier this month at the campus. There were traditional college-aged students like Kyle Kalisz, 20, of Newington, who started at Tunxis as a business administration major but decided it didn't suit his personality.
"I wanted to do something more engaging," Kalisz said.
He hopes to become certified as a home energy auditor to work between semesters, and is toying with the idea of pursuing a higher degree afterwards.
Nearby was Torrington resident and fellow student Brad Charron, 57, a project manager at Southbury's USA LED Energy Solutions, where he oversees commercial lighting projects. Charron said he hopes to use his new knowledge to achieve his "certified energy manager" (CEM) credential, which is a key hiring benchmark for a number of big companies, according to the Association of Energy Engineers, a certifying body for CEM. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


April 24, 2017

CT Construction Digest Monday April 24, 2017

Officials send $1 million Portland sidewalk repair project back to committee

PORTLAND >> The Board of Selectmen moved closer Wednesday to choosing an option for improvements to local sidewalks. The selectmen weighed which of two options to commit to but then stopped just short of actually making a decision. That, in turn, could push back the start date for work on the much-delayed sidewalk repair initiative until next year The selectmen have $1 million that can be used for sidewalk repair. “I know it’s only $1 million, and it’s not ‘sexy’ like Parks and Rec. But it’s still important,” Selectman Michael Pelton said.
The $1 million was part in a $10 million bond issue that was approved by residents at a referendum last year. Director of Public Works Richard D. Kelsey has pushed for action on sidewalk repairs for a decade. “I can’t do much more,” he told the selectmen. “I’ve given you all the information I can.”  “Now you need to provide me with more direction,” Kelsey said.
He proposed two options.The first would extend sidewalks along the west side of Main Street from Middlesex Avenue north to Indian Hill Road. The second option would involve installing — or extending — sidewalks on six streets clustered in and around Town Hall. The first option would involve taking over responsibility for sidewalks that are “within the state’s right of way,” Kelsey said. That could set a precedent for similar sidewalks on other roads and streets in town. However, Main Street also “has the most pedestrian traffic, it has the most slip and falls and it has the most visibility,” Kelsey said.
In a March 9 email to First Selectwoman Susan S. Bransfield, Kelsey said because of its visibility, doing the Main Street project “would probably be a good one to set the tone for future replacements.” The second option calls for constructing and/or repairing sidewalks on East Main Street, Fairview Street and Freestone, Highland, Homestead and Waverly avenues. “These are the oldest in worse shape and are all somewhat interconnected and are all located in the downtown area and see much pedestrian traffic,” Kelsey said in his email to Bransfield. Installing and/or repairing sidewalks in the area would serve students who walk to the Valley View Elementary School, the Brownstone Intermediate School and the middle school/high school complex. Doing the Main Street project would involve constructing and/or repairing 13,000 linear feet (2.5 miles) of sidewalks. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

City, Bristol Hospital sign purchase and sale agreement for part of Centre Square

 BRISTOL - Bristol Hospital and the City of Bristol signed a purchase and sale agreement that detailed the city’s sale of a portion of Centre Square to the hospital for the development of an ambulatory care center.
President and CEO of Bristol Hospital Kurt Barwis and Mayor Ken Cockayne signed the contract Friday afternoon in the City Council Chambers.
The hospital is working with the architects to design the interior and exterior of the building by looking at patient schedules and studying how they flow to ensure the function of the facility makes sense. The plan can take a couple weeks, but once completed will be discussed with doctors and hospital staff to avoid any change orders, explained Barwis.
“Our goal is to literally sign off on the drawing, have them build it. Then when you walk in the front door, that’s what it is,” said Barwis. “When you do it this way, you minimize the cost of the product. We are trying to be very careful in terms of how the financing and the leasing work. When you look at the rules and the way we have to do it, having a change order is not a good thing in terms of classifying the lease.”
The agreement detailed the construction of a 60,000 square foot medical facility that will be a taxable entity. The building will feature a dynamic ambulatory care center and employ hundreds of medical professionals while servicing thousands of patients in downtown Bristol, while creating jobs.
Bristol Hospital is the second largest employer in the city and the new facility is expected to house 50-60 providers, and roughly 180 staff members between doctors, assistants and support staff. Last week, an urologist was hired, and an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon will be added to the staff in August, according to Barwis.
There will be two sections coming out on each side of the building, with a concave front that faces the corner of Riverside Avenue and Main Street and a rounded area with an atrium and waiting room. From this angle it will look like a three-story building, unlike the other angles where it will appear two-story because of the slope of the lot, explained Barwis.
“So when people enter the city if will feel like they arrived at something,” said Barwis.
After roughly ten years of wanting to develop downtown and Renaissance leaving Bristol, Cockayne reached out to Barwis to do so because they have always been a great community partner, explained Cockayne.
“I really want to thank Bristol Hospital for stepping up and being the spur of downtown. It’s because of what you’re doing that we are now talking to other developers,” said Cockayne. “You can really feel the momentum building downtown, the city will be putting infrastructure in sometime this summer and beginning the design phase.”
The hospital is being conscious in the design of the building, and aiming to compliment downtown’s look while increasing foot traffic, explained Barwis.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Concrete company sold

J.J. Mottes, the Stafford company linked to crumbling foundations, no longer operates at its Meadow Lane location, and its owners received at least hundreds of thousands of dollars through the sale of the property, according to the assessor's office.
The four abutting parcels were sold in January to 10 Meadow Lane LLC for $455,000, Assessor Tami Rossi said.
The address for which the purchasing company is named is the location of the former J.J. Mottes concrete company.
The principal of 10 Meadow Lane LLC is Paul Schmieder, who registered with the secretary of the state in December, according to the secretary of the state's website.
Schmieder also is listed as the principal of Connecticut Ready Mix, the company to which J.J. Mottes leased its facilities and equipment in April 2016.
Connecticut Ready Mix is on the secretary of the state's website as operating a location at 10 Meadow Lane in Stafford.
Schmieder said he believes J.J. Mottes has not been operating for some time, adding that the company was no longer in operation when he viewed the property prior to the purchase.
In May 2016, the company entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance with the attorney general and the Department of Consumer Protection to not sell aggregate from its quarry for use in residential foundations until July 2017.
Schmieder said his company leased the facilities and equipment while they were conducting the lengthy sale transaction.
"We bought the land and we bought the equipment," he said. "We own everything."
Schmieder said the $455,000 price tag was for the land only, and would not comment on how much he paid for J.J. Mottes' equipment, which includes a fleet of trucks.
Following a joint investigation by the attorney general and DCP, the state determined there was insufficient evidence to pursue a claim under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Hundreds of property owners have told the state they have crumbling foundations, all the result of inferior concrete.
When asked in September why the state didn't prosecute the concrete suppliers, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said they had "no substantial assets" and would not be able to provide significant financial relief.
The state's investigation found that the quarry from which J.J. Mottes used aggregate lies on a vein of rock "that contains significant amounts of pyrrhotite."
The quarry linked to crumbling foundations is at 180 Tolland Turnpike in Willington and is still owned by the Joseph J. Mottes company, according to the secretary of the state's website.
Schmieder said his companies have not used aggregate from the quarry in the past and have no intention of using it in the future.
"We never have, never will" use aggregate from that quarry, he said.
Patrick Gallahue, spokesman for the secretary of the state, could not confirm that the concrete company is completely out of business or attempting to dissolve, but added that there is a lengthy process when dissolving a business. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Needed Convention Center Repairs Could Total $5 Million

The Connecticut Convention Center is little more than a decade old and already the building may need major repairs that could cost as much $5 million.
The repairs involve the elevated plazas on the north side of the convention center where water has been seeping into the plaza and leaking into the spaces below. The spaces include a part of the parking garage and corridors that include event staging areas, a carpentry shop and other "back of house" areas.
The cause of the trouble — first observed a couple of years ago but which has gotten steadily worse in the past year or so — has not been fully determined but may be related to the building's massive expansion joints and possibly waterproofing under the plaza brick pavers.
Although the scope of the repairs is still uncertain, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has included $5 million in his capital budget proposal for the repairs. The work would be paid for by taxpayer-backed bonds, if it wins approval.
The Capital Region Development Authority, which oversees the operation of the state-owned venue, said the building, opened in 2005, may only be a little over a decade old but that is not necessarily new by building standards.
Michael W. Freimuth, the authority's executive director, said, in any case, the troubles with the leaking are only likely to get worse.
"The biggest mistake at the XL Center was allowing small, life cycle systems to go well beyond their years," Freimuth said. "We can't follow the same path with the convention center."
The authority is seeking $250 million from the legislature — $125 million over the next two fiscal years —for a multi-year makeover of the XL Center. The request faces an uncertain future this session. Some of the building's mechanical systems are original to the 42-year-old sports and entertainment arena in the heart of downtown Hartford.
The convention center opened on June 2, 2005 at a cost of $375 million. The convention center hosted 153 events last year and attracted 322,000 visitors. According to the authority, the 1.6 million square foot complex — including the 540,000 square foot convention center — basically breaks even on an annual budget of $8 million, half funded by fees. The elevated plazas connect the convention center to the Marriott hotel and provide an alternative way to get in and out of the buildings other than their main entrances.
Repairing the water leaks is expensive because it means ripping up nearly an acre of pavers and a complex system underneath them that includes a snow-melting system embedded in concrete. All this must be removed to reach the waterproofing, if it is determined to be part of the problem.
Further complicating the repairs are dealing with the expansion joints tied into the plazas that allow for the building's daily and seasonal expansion and contraction, said Robert Saint, director of construction services at the Capital Region Development Authority, which oversees the operations of the convention center.
"It's like that second level deck in your house above the living room outside the master bedroom suite that is now leaking and destroying the ceiling in the living room below," Saint said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

 Blasting for I-84 reconstruction to resume after winter break

Blasting on the Interstate 84 reconstruction project will resume this week after a winter hiatus.
The blasting will occur between the Hamilton Avenue bridge and a new bridge being constructed over the Mad River.
Blasts may occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. When highway traffic needs to be stopped due to the proximity of blasts, they will only occur between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
The blasting is to make room for a new Exit 25 eastbound off-ramp from Hamilton Avenue.
Also this week, crews will install a sound barrier wall along the new Exit 25 westbound off-ramp. The ramp will be paved at night.
Work continues this week on five bridges: Hamilton Avenue over I-84, the Exit 25 eastbound on-ramp, the I-84 bridge over the Mad River (western crossing), the Harpers Ferry Road bridge and the future I-84 bridge over the Mad River.
Meanwhile, retaining walls are being constructed along I-84 westbound, east of the Exit 23 off-ramp and north of I-84 westbound, west of the Exit 25 off-ramp.
On local roads, workers will install drainage at Reidville Drive and Harpers Ferry Road, place subbase and fine grade for the future Reidville Drive, form and pour cutoff for the culvert east of the rock cut under Reidville Drive, and work on wingwall for a culvert under the future I-84.
Also, drainage is being installed at Harpers Ferry Road and Plank Road. Excavation will continue on Farrell Road, and on Plank Road East, paving will occur at night along with work on two culverts.

April 21, 2017

CT Construction Digest Friday April 21, 2017

New London’s RCDA has hotel, three other proposals in the works

New London — The Renaissance City Development Association announced Thursday it had received a good faith $10,000 deposit and signed a commitment to negotiate with the developer looking to build a hotel on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.
It was one highlight of a year that RCDA President Linda Mariani said is showing great economic development promise for the city.
“These are very exciting times for development in the city,” she said.
The RCDA also is close to signing a contract for the $40 million Shipway 221 condominium complex off Howard Street, negotiating with a developer with plans for a 90-100 unit apartment complex at the corner of Howard and Bank streets and is in preliminary talks with a startup company interested in building an aquaponics farm outside Fort Trumbull State Park.
The hotel news was announced at the RCDA’s annual meeting held in a conference room at Fort Trumbull State Park and attended by Massachusetts hotel owner Jay Patel.
Patel is the founder of the family-run J-Patel Hotel Group and expressed confidence his proposal would come to fruition. He said it would be the third “new build” hotel for his company.
“When we break ground, this will be the best hotel in the I-95 corridor. I’m eager to start my project here,” he said.
Patel said he was nearing completion of a Holiday Inn Express in Sturbridge, Mass., and owns a Hampton by Hilton in Auburn, Mass. He thanked the RCDA and the city, particularly Mayor Michael Passero, for dedicating their time and efforts to help his plan move along.
Plans for the hotel are only conceptual at this point and he was not yet ready to reveal which hotel chain might be involved. It would be located on the 9.4-acre waterfront parcel that is part of the 90-acre municipal development area that was the site of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court eminent domain case Kelo v. City of New London.
RCDA Executive Director Peter Davis said the RCDA has been in talks with EB management, who have expressed their need for a proper conference center space at the hotel.
Much of the recent development progress comes with a new partnership between the RCDA and the city, which led to funding to hire Davis and Assistant Executive Director Frank McLaughlin.
“It’s been a great year. It is beyond any of our expectations that we could move this far this fast,” Passero said. “It’s this type of energy that is needed to move us forward.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Haven zoners approve site plan for 100 apartments in the Hill

NEW HAVEN >> More than three years after discussions first began, followed by multiple starts and stops, the site plan for 110 new apartments in the Hill neighborhood was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday.
Attorney Carolyn Kone said construction should start in June and be completed in a year, as long as they get the finances and approvals necessary to make 33 of those units affordable, as well as an estimated 30 more in a second part of the project.They have applied for state help, as well as for use of some Section 8 vouchers that will help relocate some tenants from Church Street South to the new housing.A total of $5 million for the project in state housing funds is expected to be on the State Bonding Commission agenda this month, while $500,000 is coming from Home funds through the city, The Department of Housing, everyone, has been incredibly supportive,” Kone said. Kone said they won’t know about the Section 8 funds until the apartments are built. The new apartment structure, designed by Brian Stone of Kenneth Boroson Architects, features a four-story building with 2,346 square feet of retail at the corner of Gold Street and Washington AvenueThe developer, RMS Companies, run by Randy Salvatore, will raze the former Prince Street School Annex and combine it with a number of surface parking lots on Gold Street for the housing site. The residential units will consist of 8 junior 1-bedrooms; 82 1-bedrooms; 16 2-bedrooms; and four 3-bedroom units. Parking will be provided by 73 spaces in an underground garage and 28 in a surface lot, while there will be 36 spaces for bicycles. Kone said RMS was also able to build the Novella, its apartment complex on Chapel Street, in 12 months. “He is a very efficient developer,” Kone said, Kone said RMS will be back next month seeking approval for the second part of the project, which is renovating the former Welch Annex School, into 30 more apartments, all of which may be affordable for a total of 63 out of 140 units. Jonathan Wharton, a planning commissioner, called the project “awesome,” particularly the opportunities for workforce housing, something that is needed around the city. The housing backs up to the Amistad Park, which is owned by Yale but functions as a public space, something Wharton hopes continues. Chairman Edward Mattison called the Salvatore project “exciting.” Kone said unlike other large housing construction, Salvatore paid fair market value to the city for the sites and will be paying higher construction wages to meet the city rules. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

April 20, 2017

CT Construction Digest Thursday April 20, 2017

I-95 off-ramp, nearby Stamford roads closed this weekend

STAMFORD — A busy off-ramp on Interstate 95 and at least two city roads will be closed this weekend for construction of a new bridge over Atlantic Street, the state Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
The exit 8 northbound off-ramp as well as parts of South State and Atlantic streets will be closed from 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.
Traffic will be detoured around the construction area.
South State Street will be closed between Guernsey Avenue and Canal Street, and Atlantic Street will be closed between North State and Dock streets.
The project, which began in February 2016, will improve the lane configuration along South State Street and provide “a more efficient traffic flow” for vehicles getting off I-95, the DOT said in a news release
The $33.8 million state project is expected to be complete by June 2018. However, the work will require temporary off-ramp lane reductions.
The closures aim to expedite the work involved in lowering the intersection of Atlantic and South State streets in anticipation of steel construction for the new off-ramp bridge, according to the DOT. The “intermediate roadway lowering” is required for the minimum vertical clearance for truck traffic, the department said.

Report: I-84 expansion among nation’s biggest boondoggles

A plan to widen I-84 in the Danbury area is one of the most wasteful highway expansion projects in the U.S., according to a report by a consumer public interest group.
The state Department of Transportation plans to rebuild a heavily congested eight-mile stretch of I-84 between Exits 3 and 8 in Danbury to “improve safety, increase capacity, and improve operations and access to the highway.” Construction is expected to start by 2022 and continue for several years.
But the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group Education Fund calls the project an “outright boondoggle.”
The group’s report says the proposed widening “directs state funds to a road where traffic has barely increased in the last decade, even amid growing demand for better rail service and severe state budget woes.”
“With more than half of the state’s public roads in poor condition, it’s high time the state of Connecticut reassess its priorities when it comes to big highway projects, or we’ll never truly solve our transportation issues,” said Kate Cohen, state director at the ConnPIRG, in a release announcing the study. “Prioritizing the I-84 expansion in Danbury at the expense of transit and rail improvements that would move people off the road is irresponsible.” Mayor Mark Boughton disagreed, saying that congestion on that stretch of highway is worsening.
“I remember walking across the highway with my father years ago and there were no cars going by, and now that area is continually bottlenecked with traffic,” he said. “It’s a real problem.”
Boughton said the interest group’s suggestion to direct the money to railway improvements instead of highway expansion isn’t feasible. Improving railways is important, he added, but would cost more and help fewer people than a highway project.
Steven Bull, president of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, agreed that railway improvements are not an achievable goal in the current economic climate. Until a full mass-transit makeover is possible, he said, I-84 relief is necessary.
”The facts are that the highway is over capacity, and it’s about time Danbury gets its share, because we’ve been lobbying for this,” Bull said.
He added that the realignment of entrance and exit ramps and the widening of the road will not only reduce congestion but also increase safety in an area prone to accidents.
Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the DOT is committed to improving both mass transportation—buses and trains—and roadways. The department has invested over $3.5 billion in mass transportation over the last 10 years, he said.
”That speaks volumes to our commitment to providing multi-modal transportation options to the public,” Nursick said. “At the same time, we cannot ignore the need to initiate projects to mitigate bottlenecks and congestion points on our roadways that are slowing economic growth and opportunities for the state.”
He added that there are “obvious painful deficiencies” with the highway system that need to be addressed. The Danbury stretch of 84, which sees over 36 million vehicles a year, is an example of a roadway the state relies on for the transportation of goods and services, he said.
”We believe it is patently obvious to the tens of millions of motorists that improvements are needed there,” he said.
Bull questioned the report’s credibility, saying the authors don’t fully understand problems in the Danbury area. CLICK TITLE TO CONTIINUE

New Canaan paving project takes detour

NEW CANAAN — Three New Canaan roads originally slated for repaving will have to wait a little longer.
The Board of Selectmen approved on Tuesday a request to amend a paving contract for $661,413 with F.G.B. Construction that would have resulted in the repaving of 237,952 square feet of road along Springwater Lane, Adams Lane and Hillcrest Road.
Instead, 231,686 square feet of road in several stretches along Ponus Ridge — including the road from Trinity Pass to Lost District, from Dans Highway to Clearview Lane, and from Bartling Road to Frogtown Road — as well White Birch Road will be repaved. Plans to repave the original set of roads were delayed because in earlier talks with Eversource about bringing natural gas to New Canaan, the energy provided those roads as its preferred route for a pipeline. Rather than paving roads that might soon be torn up, town officials deferred.
“We had held off on doing these sets of roads — Adams, Springwater and Hillcrest — for quite a long time while we had been originally been discussing with Eversource, or Yankee Gas at the time, because this had been one of their proposed routes,” explained Director of Public Works Tiger Mann.
That round of talks, however, failed to bring natural gas to town. But, discussions with Eversource have begun anew, and First Selectman Robert Mallozzi III said that in private conversations, Eversource has expressed a desire to bring natural gas to New Canaan along the same route by August 2018, further delaying the paving of the three roads.
Instead, Mann said he worked to develop a similar paving plan elsewhere in town with the contractor.
“We tried to find a set of roads that would actually kind of mirror that,” Mann said.
The amendment to the paving project will be welcome news for residents on Ponus Ridge and White Birch Road, but Selectman Nick Williams acknowledged that the patience of those living along the proposed natural gas route may be wearing thin.
“If I’m a resident of Springwater or Adams or Hillcreast, the natural question is… what are we thinking about timing? Because these folks have waited once before, and now they’re going to be asked to wait once again,” Williams said.
“That was one of our big concerns, you want to see progress in terms of bringing a natural resource, or a renewable natural resource into town,” Mallozzi said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow for those folks.”
“I think as a town we have to look at the greater benefit that might be attainable and I’m hoping they’ll be patient.”
Paving is scheduled to begin within a few weeks, officials say.

Steer clear of I-84, Route 72 interchange during construction

NEW BRITAIN - Traffic is expected to be disrupted through October as the state Department of Transportation enters its second season of bridge rehabilitation at the Interstate 84 and Route 72 interchange.
According to the DOT, crews are attending to various issues from basic deterioration to the poor shape of steel girders. The overall scope of the rehab on the five bridges comprises patching of the deck, applying a new bituminous overlay, repairing the steel superstructure members and patching the substructure as necessary. Superstructure rehabilitation consists of steel repairs by installing plates and cleaning and painting the beam ends and bearing devices.
Two of the bridges are located in Plainville, the other three in New Britain.
The project began in February 2016 where West Main Street in New Britain becomes New Britain Avenue in Plainville. Drivers in the area have faced traffic hiccups as the work continues, but most of the inconveniences have occurred above, on Interstate 84 and Route 72. Temporary lane shifts and closures are expected as work progresses through the spring of 2018.
According to the DOT, the Slater Road on-ramp leading to westbound I-84 will be closed through Oct. 28. Detour signs in place redirect traffic to access the highway via Fienemann Road in Farmington.
Scheduled lane closures include east- and westbound I-84, Monday through Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., Thursday and Friday from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Saturday from 9 p.m. to 10 a.m. and Sunday from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. Ramps and turning roadways will face disruptions from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Lane closures on the east- and westbound lanes of Route 72 are scheduled for 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Sunday; on Route 372 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 6 p.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday.
The DOT said all other roadways affected by the construction will include lane closures from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday; and 6 p.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday.
Manafort Brothers of Plainville was awarded the $15.7 million project last year. Each bridge rehab is funded through state and federal money.

Clintonville Commons gets state funding

The application of the North Haven Opportunity for Affordable Housing for Clintonville Commons denied by the Planning & Zoning Commission in 2014 and reversed by a state judge in a 2016 8-30g case, received $3.2 million in state funding from the Department of Housing last week. Now, the original project will proceed – eight units of affordable two- and three-bedroom rental apartments that will be constructed at 518 Clintonville Road.
Lorraine Martin, treasurer of NHOAH, the nonprofit launched in 1993 with the aim of finding affordable housing in town, said the Clintonville Commons project was beset with a number of delays, from the initial rejection by P&Z to the 11 months before the 8-30 case was heard. Then, the first application for Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties (CHAMP) funding was rejected.
Speaking about the decision from last week, Martin said the $3.2 million “is basically our construction budget. We already own the land, and it covers the whole cost of the project.”
Daniel Arsenault, Legislative Program Manager for the Department of Housing, said the $3.2 million is a loan, but Martin is confident it won’t have to be repaid unless NHOAH violates affordable housing terms.  “We won’t be repaying it,” Martin said. “If we fail to comply with the restrictions by not renting it to low income people, they could call the note and it would have to be sold and the loan repaid.”
Lynne Skeet, the project manager for Housing Enterprises, the housing consultant in Enfield, said the NHOAH project is eight rental units in four stand-alone buildings. “They are two- and three-bedroom units from 1,000 to 1,900 square feet,” she said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Preston – Town and tribal leaders signed copies of the newly approved Property Disposition and Development Agreement during a public signing ceremony Wednesday at the former Norwich Hospital property, one day after voters approved selling the property to the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.
Preston voters overwhelmingly approved the 150-page agreement Tuesday, 813 to 137, and the Preston Redevelopment Agency minutes later endorsed the Mohegans' $200 to $600 million plan to transform the abandoned Norwich Hospital into a sports, entertainment and recreational resort over the next several years.
Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown, also chairman of the MTGA management board, referred to the Mohegan “trail of life,” and said the agreement harkens back to an agreement 400 years ago, when Sachem Uncas granted land on the east bank of the Thames River to Jonathan Brewster for a trading post to benefit both tribe and settlers. Brown said the tribe is proud to be part of the three-way agreement with the state and town.
“We are equally proud as a tribe to be back on this side of the river,” Brown said.
Brown, First Selectman Robert Congdon and PRA Chairman Sean Nugent signed the documents while about 60 people watched. Nugent held up one copy and said his signing represented "17 people from the town of Preston who gave time, energy and support to this project,” referring to members of the volunteer redevelopment agency that oversees the property cleanup, marketing and development negotiations.
Malloy said the Norwich Hospital development, along with the proposed U.S. Coast Guard Museum in New London, freight rail and Port of New London upgrades and the ramped up hiring at Electric Boat, “all point to a greater economic future for this part of Connecticut.”
Brown said the project will have “multiple finish lines,” the first being Tuesday's referendum results and Wednesday's official launch. Prior to the signing ceremony, tribal officials gave a tour of the 388-acre property to a prospective developer and planned to meet the developer for lunch afterward.
“That's all I'm going to say about that,” he said.
The conceptual plan unveiled by the tribe in January and outlined in the 150-page PDDA described numerous specific targeted developments throughout the property. A 100,000-square-foot outdoor theme park with indoor attractions and a 90,000-square-foot indoor water park with outdoor attractions and a 100-room luxury hotel are planned on the east side of Route 12. A 135,000-square-foot sports complex with a 100-room hotel and a 100,000-square-foot sports retail store also are shown on the east side of Route 12.
A marina with approximately 50 boat slips is planned on the Thames River directly across from the Mohegan Sun Casino. A public riverfront park is planned, along with 100 time-share residential units and a 220,000-square-foot senior housing complex overlooking the river. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Wal-Mart drops plans to construct ‘supercenter’ in Manchester

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has shelved plans to build a 152,430-square-foot "supercenter" on Spencer Street in Manchester, town officials said this week.
Director of Planning Gary Anderson said the retailer notified the town last week that it is no longer planning to build a new facility at 205 Spencer St., which the company had said would have employed about 300 workers.
Wal-Mart is working with a local real-estate agent to sell the property, he said.
The multinational retailer purchased space on Spencer Street from Gateway Lauren Inc. for $9.8 million in November 2015, according to the assessor's office.
The decision corresponds with Wal-Mart's nationwide plan to spur online sales, according to Anderson.
"This is a reflection of a national decision, not regional," the planner said.
Wal-Mart's withdrawal is disappointing, Anderson said, adding that the town was looking forward to new jobs and economic growth the supercenter would have brought to Manchester.
Still, he said the town is moving forward working with real-estate agents to find another occupant.
"We are hopeful that, over time, we can attract a developer that is even better than what was proposed recently," Anderson said.
The nixed plan comes months after Wal-Mart officials in October assured the Journal Inquirer the approved Spencer Street site would not fall victim the retailer's plan to open fewer stores and grow online sales.
The Spencer Street facility, which originally had been scheduled to open in 2014, would have been Wal-Mart's second supercenter in Manchester. Wal-Mart's existing store is at 420 Buckland Hills Drive.
In September, Wal-Mart agreed to buy out Jet.com for $3 billion to increase internet-based purchasing.
Phillip Keene, Wal-Mart's director of cooperate communications, wrote in a statement a long review had culminated with the "difficult decision not to move forward" with the Spencer Street project.
"We look forward to continuing to serve our local customers at our Buckland Hills Drive store and online at walmart.com," Keene wrote.
In January 2013, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-1 to approve Wal-Mart's Spencer Street outlet despite concerns the supercenter would affect traffic. The retailer needed the commission's approval because the proposed site had 1,000 parking spaces and exceeds 4 acres.
The new facility would have been 37,000 square feet larger than the Kmart store that formerly occupied that site. It was demolished in 2012.
Wal-Mart first filed an application to redevelop the former Kmart store in August 2012 CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Painkiller Addiction Endangers Workers and Jobsites

Sometimes when things go wrong for construction workers, they go very, very wrong. A worker wrenches his back when he awkwardly picks up a length of rebar, or tears ligaments when he trips and falls from the operator's platform of a hydraulic excavator, and turns to oxycodone or some other prescribed painkiller to find relief and keep working.
Unfortunately, when the injury heals and the pain goes away, the compulsion to continue to mask everyday stress remains strong. From such circumstances is an opioid addict created.
Indeed, insurance industry research has determined that the construction industry has the country's highest rate of opioid addiction. The implications of such an epidemic are several. It begins with the negative impact on the life of the individual, extends through co-workers becoming vulnerable to dangers from impaired worksite behavior, and ends with a company's financial loss from unproductive employees and higher insurance costs.
The opioid crisis is just one facet of substance abuse in the building industry, of course, and is impacting many other workplaces. Even so, the combination of heavy machinery and a blue-collar workforce has turned the industry into ground zero in the battle to throw back the threat.
What can an employer do? To say the least, it is difficult for management to modify the behavior of substance abusers, whether the abuse is of a prescribed drug or an illicitly obtained one. Both physical and psychological dependence are involved. Diagnosis and treatment are problematic because human beings are capable of both rational and irrational behavior.
Prevention starts with educating employees about being victimized by an opioid. In addition, supervisors and middle-managers must be better trained to discern aberrant behaviors associated with opioid use, and management must provide suitable medical intervention when addiction is either recognized or anticipated. Educate. Monitor. Act.
Abuse of opioids and other substances is just one of several workforce dilemmas facing the industry in the 21st century. However, unlike the others, this problem is not about attracting more people into the industry. This is about helping those already on the job.

April 19, 2017

CT Construction Digest Wednesday April 19, 2017

O&G/Tutor Perini Wins CAAPA Award

Torrington >> The joint venture team of O&G Industries/Tutor Perini Corporation has received a 2016 Connecticut Asphalt & Aggregate Producers Association (CAAPA) Award in the Limited Access Roadway category. CAAPA awards are presented annually to projects that exemplify excellence in pavement placed on Connecticut roadways. Winners are selected by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  The joint venture team was recognized for its work on I-95 and I-91 north and south bound in New Haven. The pavement installation was part of Contract E, a complex, five-and-a-half year, $360M project that will conclude this spring.
“For us, this was a remarkable achievement considering all of the challenges in placing the bituminous concrete on this project,” said John Gemetro, Vice President of O&G’s Heavy Civil Division and Project Executive for the contact, in a written statement.. “Matching grades both horizontally and vertically with the numerous stages and many structures while maintaining a heavy flow of traffic, and in the end being able to finish the project with a smooth uniform surface was a real accomplishment. I congratulate our Civil Superintendent Bill Noll and Paving Foreman Vic Mancini for their excellent work.” The award was presented at CAAPA’s 59th annual conference in North Haven on April 7 in North Haven, Connecticut. The project’s asphalt supplier, milling contractor and quality inspector were also recognized for their contributions.

Developer eager to break ground on mall, but approvals still needed

NORWALK — General Growth Properties plans to pull an excavation permit by next month to start work on The SoNo Collection off West Avenue and Interstate 95.
“What we’d be proposing to do ... is begin with excavations and foundations,” William J. Hennessey Jr., an attorney representing GGP, told the Norwalk Common Council’s Planning Committee at City Hall Monday evening. “We would actually be obtaining the permit for the building that’s already been approved, which at that stage of the construction is identical to the building that’s proposed.”
Hennessey said the plans for the mall are under review by the city’s building department. GGP plans to pull the excavation permit before May 1, he added.
At issue is how work can begin when GGP’s requested removal of a 152-room from the nearly million-square-foot upscale regional shopping center has only begun to undergo review by the city bodies.
“Can a project like this be started once, theoretically, we could just say thumbs down to everything for whatever reason?” asked Councilman Bruce I. Kimmel, an at-large Democrat. “Couldn’t we back ourselves into a corner where we’re busy deliberating on things while construction is under way?”
Same foundation
The SoNo Collection site plan calls for 728,000 square feet of retail space, including anchor stores Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, as well as 80 to 100 smaller retailers, public realm space and the hotel on the site.
According to GGP, the excavation and foundation work is identical for The SoNo Collection — with or without the eight-story hotel atop Bloomingdale’s.
GGP has concluded that the hotel and two alternative uses — office or residential space — are not feasible after comparing construction costs versus returns.
The Chicago-based developer has asked the city for permission to remove the hotel from the approved plan in exchange for a $3.5 million payment to the city.
Adams thanked Planning Committee members for scheduling the special meeting to consider the request.
“I don’t think any of us want to be here,” said council Majority Leader John Kydes, the District C Democrat who chairs the committee. “I think your offer to compensate for the lost tax revenue got you through the door.”
After a lengthy presentation, discussion and input from several residents, Kydes and other committee members voted unanimously to forward the hotel removal request for the full council for consideration next Tuesday.
A council approval then would authorize the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency to draft changes to the Reed Putnam Urban Renewal Plan and Land Disposition Agreement — two documents governing redevelopment of the site. The council would vote on the changes at a later date.
For the hotel to be removed, the Redevelopment Agency Commission also must approve changes. A public hearing is required as part of that review. In addition, the city’s Zoning Commission would have to approve a revised site plan reflecting the removal of the hotel.
“Our hope is that if we can begin this process, which we think can be completed by the beginning of June in discussions with the city and the agency, that we can start construction on the excavation and foundation,” said GGP Senior Director Douglas T. Adams. “Just the excavation component is four months of just dirt removal and the beginning of some lowest-level foundation work.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hartford architect selected for new East Hampton Town Hall/police complex

EAST HAMPTON >> An architect has been chosen to design the proposed new Town Hall/police station.
Seven firms submitted proposals to design the new municipal building, which will — if approved by the voters — be built on a 5.4-acre parcel of land in the Edgewater Hills mixed-use development. The land on which the building will stand is being donated to the town by the developers of the project, Stephen J. and Lisa M. Motto.The submissions from the seven firms were reviewed by Town Manager Michael Maniscalco and members of the town staff, he said last week. The applications were forwarded to the building committee, chaired by Glenn Gollenberg, the architect for the high school.
The $51 million renovation and expansion of the high school is nearing completion. Gollenberg came before the Town Council last week to outline the process that led to the selection of Amenta Emma Architects of Hartford. “We short listed four firms that we intended to interview,” Gollenberg told the council. The committee used “a quality-based selection process,” he said.  “We rated the firms and reviewed their fee proposals,” Gollenberg said. “The lowest qualified bidder was Amenta Emma.”  The firm is also the architect for the Edgewater Hill development. In response to Gollenberg’s presentation, Councilor Kevin Reich said he was “very impressed with the process (the committee) is taking and the information we have received.”
The council — absent Councilor Mark Philhower — voted 5-1 to endorse the selection of Amenta Emma. The lone no vote was cast by Councilor Ted Hintz Jr., who has opposed the process that led to the selection of the Mottos’ proposal to have the complex built on their property. In exchange for donating the land to the town, Stephen Motto will serve as the construction manager for the project.Depending on the eventual cost of the project, Stephen Motto stands to make between $400,000 and $800,000. He had initially demanded that he would also choose the architect and the construction firm. The council rejected those proposals, however, while agreeing to allow his to serve as the owner’s project manager. Amenta Emma, which has offices in Stamford, New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts, designed the UConn Co-op on the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut as well as buildings on the Middlesex Community College campus in Middletown. In addition, Amenta Emma also designed several buildings in the Blue Back Square and Bishop’s Corner developments in West Hartford, according to a portfolio of designs on the firm’s website.Maniscalco said Amenta Emma submitted a bid of $897,000, $153,000 less than the second-place firm, Kaestle Boos Associates Inc. of New Britain, which bid $1.05 million for the project. The work includes the design of the building — which preliminary estimates put at between 32,000 to 40,000 square feet. Amenta Emma will also be required to provide a detailed plan as well as the floor plans, Maniscalco said.

Norwich Hospital property sale OK’d

Preston — This was a night to break the rules, Preston Redevelopment Agency Chairman Sean Nugent said, filling tiny plastic glasses with champagne not normally allowed at Town Hall.
Nugent nearly choked up with emotion when he asked the overflow crowd in the small Town Hall conference room to raise their glasses in toasts.
Thanks went to the residents of Preston, to First Selectman Robert Congdon for his leadership, to the state officials who supported the town and to themselves, the PRA members who gave up hundreds of hours of their time to the tedious task of seeing the former Norwich Hospital property cleaned up and readied for development.
"This is a historic moment for the townsfolks. This is a historic moment for the region. This is a historic moment for the state of Connecticut," Nugent said.
Ten minutes earlier, election moderators read the results of Tuesday's referendum, which overwhelmingly approved the sale of the former Norwich Hospital property to the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, 813 to 137.
It was one of the highest voter turnouts in recent years.
The tribal authority plans a $200 million to $600 million development to create a major recreational, entertainment, sports and residential complex on the 388-acre property over a five-year period. Preston must first finish the environmental cleanup, using a $10 million state grant already approved in February.
Cleanup is expected to take about a year.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — the first governor to visit the former Norwich Hospital property since it closed under former Gov. John G. Rowland in 1996 — will return to Preston Wednesday for a 12:15 p.m. agreement signing ceremony outside the historic original campus building, the Administration Building.
The ceremony is open to the public. Nugent said guests will be directed where to park and how to get to the signing site.
"Thank you to the residents of Preston, First Selectman Congdon, and the Preston Redevelopment Agency for welcoming us to the Preston community and for believing and trusting in us," said Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan tribe and MTGA Management Board, in a news release issued after the vote.
Brown added: "We look forward to a long future together and to developing a project that will not only make Preston residents proud, but will strengthen the local economy and the state as a whole."
Town leaders thanked the voters first for taking the "tremendous" risk in 2009 to take ownership of the property, Congdon said. Without that decision, Congdon said, the sprawling former state mental institution still would be a contaminated brownfield with dozens of decaying, abandoned buildings.
Through the redevelopment authority, the town obtained about $15 million in state and federal grants and loans, cleaned and demolished all but 10 structures and aggressively marketed the property to potential developers. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hotel proposed for Marsh Hill Road site in Orange

ORANGE >> The Town Plan and Zoning Commission was presented Tuesday with a site plan for a 122-room, high-end hotel at 99 Marsh Hill Road, and in an unrelated matter made it clear they want to deny a mixed-use proposal that would include 60 apartments using the state’s 8-30g affordable housing statute. The hotel plan was unveiled by Jeffrey N. Gordon, site planner, landscape architect and president of Codespoti & Associates, who represents the developer, Hartford Lodging Partners LLC. The extended stay Homewood Suites by Hilton would be situated right near the entrance to northbound Interstate 95 on Marsh Hill Road, near Yale’s West Campus, where the School of Nursing is located. The four-story hotel, if approved, would also be situated near the approved, but not constructed, train station. Gordon said the hotel likely would draw a lot of executives and Yale visitors.
Gordon is seeking site plan approval and a special permit to build the hotel; the property is already zoned for a hotel. The hotel of all suites will have a pool, fitness room, outdoor plaza and a meeting room area that can be extended for conferences.
In other business, the commission, faced with an affordable housing proposal under the state’s controversial 8-30g regulation, closed a public hearing that spanned weeks regarding a developer’s proposal to build a mixed business/residential complex with 60 apartments, 18 of them affordable units. The site plan application, submitted by Sixty Five Marsh Hill Road LLC for property at 65-69 Marsh Hill Road and 0 & 15 Salemme Lane, calls for underground parking, commercial space and residential units. Approval has already been granted near the location for a train station, 200 apartment units and a 900-car parking garage Gordon, who also represents that developer, and attorney Thomas Lynch, both foremost 8-30g experts, sparred politely through the last two hearing dates with TPZC Chairman Walter Clark IV, who appeared to have soured on the project weeks ago. The statute intended to create more affordable housing gives much leeway to developers, especially in municipalities that haven’t reached a certain threshold of affordable units among their housing stock. Orange has a low number of affordable housing units, less than two percent of its housing stock, Lynch has said.  The regulation allows developers to bypass local zoning regulations, and the burden of proof that a project threatens the health, safety or welfare of residents is high and falls on the board. Municipalities rarely win on appeal — the developer typically prevails — and the losing is expensive to towns and cities because of all the legal fees, 8-30g experts have said. The TPZC, poised to deny the application, asked Town Attorney Vincent Marino to draw up a resolution.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE