September 28, 2018

CT Construction Digest Friday September 28, 2018

Soccer Team Owner, Hartford Foundation To Cover Cost Overruns At Dillon Stadium

The owner of Hartford Athletic, the new soccer team scheduled to play at a renovated Dillon Stadium this spring, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving will contribute as much as $2.7 million to cover cost overruns at the historic stadium in Colt Park.
The Capital Region Development Authority, the agency overseeing a $10 million rehabilitation of the facility, has said it is struggling to stay within its state-funded budget. Workers at the site discovered that the concrete bases anchoring the massive bleachers were outdated and wouldn’t fit many modern seating systems. They also found that the stadium was a foot higher on one side than the other.
CRDA has considered cutting back seating and forgoing a new scoreboard, along with other embellishments, to manage the problems. The project is now expected to exceed $13 million.
Bruce Mandell, who owns the professional team that is set to play at Dillon, said he will pay up to $1.5 million to help cover cost overruns. The money won’t buy anything flashy – it is meant to keep the basic plans intact, he said.He has also applied for a forgivable, $800,000 loan from the state Department of Economic and Community Development to fund construction expenses. The money is contingent on Mandell creating dozens of jobs.
The Hartford Foundation is also putting in $1.2 million to pay for the turf field, along with $500,000 for improvements to Colt Park.
CRDA had weighed trimming the seating capacity to 5,000, down from 6,000 as originally planned. Mandell said that with the extra money, the capacity will now likely be 5,500.
“It was really important that we get a stadium that the city, the state and our league would be proud of,” he said. “If the experience isn’t delivered in a really great way then the project has a drag on it, and we do not want to have a drag on this project.”
The city owns the stadium, and CRDA would manage it for at least five years under an agreement hammered out last spring. Mandell’s company, Hartford Sports Group, is the primary tenant, though a minimum of 131 days per year have been set aside for community use. Hartford Sports Group would pay $300,000 annually to cover overhead expenses, and another $25,000 that would go into a fund supporting neighborhood events.
The renovations at Dillon, which include new bleachers, turf field, press box, lighting and fencing, were supposed to be complete in April, but officials now say the issues at the site could delay the opening until May. Hartford Athletic’s season will begin on the road in March, and Mandell said he hopes the team will play its first home game at Dillon in early May.
Hartford Sports Group has made arrangements for the team, which is backed by the United Soccer League, to play at Rentschler Field in East Hartford should Dillon Stadium not be ready in time.Jay Williams, president of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, said his organization wants to devote funds to projects that have a community impact. The new field at Dillon may be used by youth athletic leagues and for cultural events.
The Hartford Foundation announced this week that it has created a subsidiary to help fund key development opportunities in the region. The contribution to Dillon is the first in that effort. Williams said other projects may include affordable housing or businesses that spur entrepreneurship for underserved residents. The Hartford Foundation has so far set aside $4 million for the endeavor.
The $500,000 for Colt Park will cover drainage, new lighting and improvements to baseball fields.
Plans for an updated Dillon Stadium started in earnest last year when CRDA launched the latest request for development proposals. Two earlier attempts to upgrade the facility collapsed.
In November, CRDA chose Hartford Sports Group to be its main tenant. The city council signed off on a deal with the sports group, and the state committed to borrow $10 million to rebuild the stadium.

Millions Of Connecticut Trees Have Been Killed Or Damaged In Recent Years. Taking Them Down Is Expensive.

Gregory B. Hladky
Cutting down or trimming trees that present potential threats to power lines is expected to cost the state’s largest utility $80.4 million this year — an increase of 26 percent over just four years ago.
“I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel at this time,” Alan Carey, head of Eversource’s tree and vegetation management for Connecticut, said. “We’re noticing that this year a lot of trees you wouldn’t expect to fail are failing.”
Infestations of gypsy moths, emerald ash borers and other pests like the Hemlock woolly adelgid have killed or damaged millions of trees across Connecticut in recent years. State forestry experts say big storms and the two-year-long drought that finally ended in 2017 put additional stress on many trees that were already nearing the end of their life spans. Carey said repeated rains this summer and fall have also contributed to a greater risk of trees falling on power lines. All that water allowed trees to produce more and more leaves, dramatically increasing the weight of their foliage. At the same time, the soggy ground is making it easier for root systems to loosen and be pulled out by the weight of the canopy, according to Carey.

September 27, 2018

CT Construction Digest Thursday September 27, 2018

Bethel police station to be completed ‘soon’

Julia Perkins
BETHEL — The new police station is still not done, but it should not be long before the building is open. Jon Menti, chairman of the Public Site and Building Committee, said the $14.4 million station will be finished “soon,” but that he did not have a completion date. At one point, officials hoped the building would be done in August and then September.
“The building is beautiful on the inside,” Menti said. “It’s something that will last the town the next 50 to 70 years. It’s well made, well constructed.”
Menti said landscaping and small work, such as touching up paint, needs to completed. The building department and fire marshal also must inspect the building, while the police department is coordinating with state 911 services to set up the 911 system.
Contractors are teaching police administrators how to use the mechanical and electronic systems in the building this week “That is a very involved process,” Menti said. About $120,000 is left in the contingency fund.

North Haven police station project facing delays

Bailey Wright
NORTH HAVEN — The timeline for completing renovations and a 10,000-square-foot addition to the police station has been extended by at least two months.
“Essentially, we have been pushed back from an anticipated completion date of late February 2019 to late April or early May,” Police Chief Tom McLoughlin said in an email.
McLoughlin said the work has fallen behind because of a delay in the delivery of steel needed for the new west wing. He said that delivery is now expected by the end of the month.
The completion date may be pushed again if “we have a tough winter,” McLoughlin said. Downes Construction Co. project manager Brad Percival said the delay is also due to unforeseen obstacles on-site.
Construction on the Linsley Avenue station started early this year, with a formal groundbreaking held in March.
The $18 million renovation is expected to add 40 years to the 53-year-old building’s life. The project includes a 10,000-square-foot addition on the building’s west side for new sally ports, lockup and garage.
Percival said the building’s interior mechanical work, interior framing and underground utilities are ongoing. He said once the steel arrives, they will begin putting it up and then work on exterior framing.
Other work yet to be started includes masonry, new windows and a new roof.
McLoughlin said he is not concerned about the delays leading to additional costs because a guaranteed maximum price was secured with the construction management company.
“I’m more concerned with the daily disruption of our organization and the longer term effects of having the department be decentralized,” McLoughlin said.
Police operations, including dispatch and records, have been relocated to the Town Hall Annex basement, at 5 Linsley St., for the time being.

UConn Approves Plans For New 2,500-Seat Ice Hockey Arena

The UConn Board of Trustees took a step toward the construction of a new ice hockey arena on campus Wednesday, approving plans for the facility.
The arena will seat 2,500 and be located adjacent to and connected to the Freitas Ice Forum. Hockey East requires that schools have an arena to play in on campus. The trustees authorized UConn to “execute agreements necessary for any portion or all of the design, construction, financing, and operation of a new ice hockey arena on the Storrs campus, provided that the arena meets the minimum requirements of the Hockey East Association.”School officials have until Oct. 31 to submit a financing plan for the project. The plan would also require an anticipated date for completion for the project and needs committee approval. According to an athletics department spokesperson, the project is anticipated to have a “4-year window” after construction begins.
The Huskies will continue to play a majority of their games at the XL Center, according to a team spokesperson, but the new arena will allow for roughly six to seven games to be played on campus. The new arena will also help UConn avoid scheduling conflicts with bookings at the XL Center.
UConn was originally scheduled to begin construction on the Freitas Ice Forum in 2017 to meet minimum Hockey East requirements, per their agreement with the Hockey East when the Huskies joined the conference in 2013. The conference gave UConn time to meet the requirements, but university officials agreed a Freitas renovation to include additional seating would prove difficult.
The locker rooms, coaches’ offices and equipment room at Freitas will be renovated in an attempt to keep costs of the new project low. The renovation will include more strength and training space.
With the construction of an entirely new arena in the works, UConn’s start date was pushed back and the conference was informed. UConn also submitted a request to the conference to allow for 2,500 seats instead of 4,000, which was approved in September.
After the meeting, Scott Jordan, UConn’s chief financial officer, said the next step for the development will be finding a development partner and coming back to the board with a developed proposal.
“We wanted to more or less get a commitment from the Board of Trustees today to this smaller scope,” Jordan said. “We wanted to be on the record. Hockey East was accommodating to us. This vote is us saying back to Hockey East, thank you. We will proceed.”

September 26, 2018

CT Construction Digest Wednesdy September 26, 2018

Lamont finds more dollars for transportation than Stefanowski, but not enough to fix everything

When it comes to transportation improvements, it could be said that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ned Lamont is trying to stretch a dollar.
Lamont, who was in Meriden Tuesday to support increased train service and better links between rail, bus and air, still supports only one new source of revenue for a state transportation program that advocates say will need billions of new dollars over the next decade.
And while that source — imposing tolls only on large trucks from out of state — would provide only a fraction of that revenue, Lamont’s chief defense is that it still is more than Republican gubernatorial rival Bob Stefanowski has offered.
Connecticut business leaders say “if you believe in economic development and job creation, you’d better fix your transportation system,” said Lamont. “I hear that wherever I go. … This should be priority number one for the next governor.”
Lamont, who joined running mate Susan Bysiewicz at the Meriden train station on State Street, which overlooks related residential and commercial development, said he would promote more transit-oriented development by encouraging state agencies to lend technical expertise to interested communities.
Lamont also said he would build on the rail system linking Hartford and north central Connecticut with New Haven by adding WiFi service on trains, improving bus connections linking the Hartford rail line and Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, and increasing daily round trips between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, Mass.
Lamont also promises to encourage private-sector investors to partner with the state to develop new train stations along the Hartford line in communities such as West Hartford, Newington and North Haven, in exchange for a portion of ticket proceeds.
Finally, he said he would explore purchasing the Hartford line tracks, which are owned by Amtrak, saying, “Connecticut can be a better steward of its rail lines than an out-of-state company.”
But how would Lamont pay for all of this?
More importantly, how would he even get to these priorities when — according to state transportation officials, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and numerous transportation advocates — a badly needed rebuild of Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is at risk of slowing to a crawl.
Malloy, who is not seeking re-election, warned Wall Street credit rating agencies, Connecticut businesses, state legislators — and anyone else who would listen — last winter that absent more funding, dozens of key projects would fall into limbo and the state’s transportation program was headed for dramatic contraction over the next five to 10 years.
Some of the key projects on that list include: replacing the elevated section of I-84 in Hartford, commonly known as the viaduct; renovating the “Mixmaster” junction of I-84 and Route 8 in Waterbury; and widening Interstate 95 in southwestern Connecticut.
State legislators provided a fiscal patch this past spring, transferring an extra $29 million in sales tax receipts into the transportation fund this fiscal year and another $120 million in 2019-20.
But that is not expected to stabilize transportation funding beyond 2022 or 2023.
Transportation advocates say establishing electronic tolling on all major highways, which DOT officials say would raise $600 million to $1 billion annually, would provide the needed revenue.
Lamont has said he would limit tolls only to tractor-trailer trucks from out of state. He estimated Tuesday this would raise $100 million per year, but has released no fiscal analysis to back up this estimate.
“We are running a multi-state charity for out-of-state vehicles,” Bysiewicz said.
Joe Sculley, president of the state’s largest trucking company coalition, the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said “There is no data to back up statements that trucks are tearing up our roads.”
When asked about transportation advocates’ argument that Connecticut’s transportation system needs far more revenue than he will support, Lamont said “We can make a bit of progress on that.”
When pressed, though, Lamont’s preferred response is to focus on his opponent, noting that Stefanowski has ruled out tolls entirely and also pledged to phase out the state income tax — which would strip away roughly half of all state budget funding.
“While we believe in modernizing transportation to attract jobs, it’s clear that Bob Stefanowski’s tax scheme will cut critical dollars for transportation at a time when they’re needed most. His scheme will close the Hartford Line, end critical upgrades to our bridges, and put more traffic on our roads,” Lamont said.
The Stefanowski campaign did not comment after Lamont’s press conference

New Haven aldermanic committee approves deal for 9th Square housing

Mary E. O'Leary
NEW HAVEN — The city is on its way to an agreement that puts the Residences at Ninth Square on a solid footing by settling the debt it owes the city in exchange for a continuation of the same percentage of apartments remaining affordable.
The Joint Community Development and Tax Abatement Committee of the Board of Alders voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of selling the large project with its 335 units to Beacon Communities, LLC of Boston, a deal that will be final once the full board votes on it next month. “It is a large development in the middle of our downtown” and losing it “would leave us with a huge hole in our city,” Serena Neal-Sanjurjo, head of the Livable City Initiative and a main negotiator on the project, told the alders in explaining the importance of the deal.
The development, which opened in 1994, transformed the Ninth Square to a stable neighborhood of housing and retail, although recently the number of empty commercial spaces has increased.McCormack Baron and the Related Companies, operating under Ninth Square Limited Partnership LLC, found that it could not get out from under the millions it owed, mainly to the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, but also to the city, Yale and others who came together 24 years ago to help underwrite it.
The new owners will keep 56 percent of the apartments affordable by renting to tenants who earn no more than 60 percent of Area Median Income. The remaining 44 percent will be market rate housing, which is consistent with the current mix.
Beacon will make a payment of $2 million to the city in return for forgiveness of all the subordinate loans owed to New Haven, whose liens were encumbering the site.
The city bonded $3.75 million toward the project more than two decades ago and was supposed to earn various amounts of interest on it. It also passed through a federal $8.9 million Urban Development Action Grant to the development.
Because the city was fourth or fifth in line in terms of being paid back by the bankrupt development, there was little likelihood it would be paid back, Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson said
For this reason, the $2 million payment the city negotiated was a good deal, he said.New Haven will pay $80,000 for the lots at 31 and 39 George streets and the city already has brownfield money to begin remediation that will be needed to turn this at a later date into a development site.
With the tax-exempt bond and Low Income Housing Tax Credits from CHFA, Beacon will put $13.2 million in capital improvements into the Ninth Square, upgrading all the apartments.
On taxes, New Haven agreed to fix those at $600,000 per year in a 20-year PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, which will increase every five years by a percentage equal to the increase in adjusted gross revenue.
The 290-car garage at 270 State St. is being bought for $3.6 million in 30 annual payments of $120,000. At the city’s choice, these payments may be replaced by a reduction in the PILOT. The current tenants will have first right of refusal to continue to use that garage, but at market rates.
The alders were pleased with the plan.“I think we should go with this because it is a deal. It is the best deal the city could get at this moment,” Alder Ernie Santiago, D-15.
Alder Aaron Greenberg, D-8, said the Ninth Square apartments and the new units at what was Farnam Courts are important opportunities “to put our money where our mouth is on affordable housing. There is a real affordable housing crisis in the city.”
He said he hears the testimony month after month from constituents addressing the task force established to study housing needs.
Dara Kovel, president of Beacon Development, said the property was put up for sale almost a year ago and she has been in contract with CHFA for about four months. When the financing is complete, there will be a closing, with construction expected to take 14 months.
“All the terms of the deal have been settled,” Kovel said.
Neal-Sanjurjo, in addressing the aldermanic committee, said it would have been “devastating” if CHFA pulled the bonds and the housing mix was lost.
Beacon committed to keeping the same maintenance and property management staff for a year and if they demonstrate that their work was up to their performance standards, they could stay on.
Barbara Tinney, who runs New Haven Family Alliance at Monterey Housing, which is owned by Beacon, testified to the quality maintenance staff at that facility.

September 25, 2018

CT Construction Digest Tuesday September 25, 2018

State sends $389,000 to Ansonia to improve route to railroad station

ANSONIA- The state finalized a $389,000 grant to improve sidewalks, build handicapped accessible curb cuts and install lighting leading to the railroad station from downtown.“This is a critical infrastructure grant which will pair nicely with the residential units planned for downtown,” said Mayor David Cassetti. “We are continuing to improve the look and feel of our already busy downtown. This grant will be used to help improve the safety of our sidewalks and the look leading to our train station.”
Cassetti told the Board of Aldermen last month that the city would be getting this Community Connectivity grant from the state Department of Transportation.““We are grateful to the Connecticut Department of Transportation for selecting our project,” said Sheila O’Malley, the city’s economic development director who was instrumental in applying for and obtaining the grant. “We believe Ansonia’s downtown activity warrants significant improvements to our infrastructure. Main Street and East Main will be getting improvements that our residents will be able to enjoy.”
O’Malley said the purpose of the grant is to provide better connections between the railroad station and the apartments on Main Street and East Main Street.
She said stripes will be painted for a bicycle path leading to the train station and signs will be installed. Additionally benches will be placed along Main Street near the apartment complexes particularly those planned for the ATP and Palmer buildings which are in the process of being sold and renovated.
One of the goals is to make things safer for cyclists and pedestrians,” O’Malley said. “We want to provide easier access from East Main, West Main and Main Street to the train station.”
Once the design is completed,O’Malley said bids for construction will be sought.
“We could probably get started with the signage and the striping this year,” she said. “The sidewalks may have to wait until the spring.The mayor said will be additional lighting placed every 75 feet with flower pots built into them“I want to beautify Main Street —make it a destination place with our restaurant row,” Cassetti said..
Cassetti said he has been meeting with the state Department of Transportation and Metro-North in the hopes of getting anywhere from $180,000 to $250,000 to construct a covered kiosk where people could buy tickets and wait for the train.
“We need a place where they can wait inside especially during inclement weather,” Cassetti said.\
One of the goals is to make things safer for cyclists and pedestrians,” O’Malley said. “We want to provide easier access from East Main, West Main and Main Street to the train station.”
The mayor and O’Malley credited the work of retiring State Rep. Linda Gentile, R-Ansonia, who helped push the grant through.
“There are so many benefits—from Ansonia’s economic growth to the physical health of our residents to improved safety that will come with new sidewalks and improved lighting,” Gentile said.
The grant was among $12.4 million awarded by the Department of Transportation to 40 municipalities with the intent to improve safety and accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Contractors find more asbestos in demolition of Meriden housing project

MERIDEN — Workers clearing the Mills Memorial Apartments for demolition discovered more asbestos than expected, leading to an estimated cost increase of $110,311 so far, with city officials expecting additional costs.
”We have had two change orders so far for additional asbestos material, mostly tile located inside the buildings,” said city Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. “I anticipate a third change order this week for additional exterior abatement.”
Workers started the $3 million demolition earlier this summer and plans call for all five buildings to be razed at once.
“It is not unusual to have change orders for projects this size,” said City Planner Robert Seale, adding the demolition work on the five buildings is continuing.
“The exterior abatement is for additional asbestos found behind fabric, beneath the exterior brick,” Seale said. “It is limited to small patches on the columns and floors. We do not have an estimate at this time regarding the cost of the abatement.”
The demolition of the 1960s low-income housing project required that all 144 families be relocated, a task finally completed last winter. The Meriden Housing Authority turned the property over to the city as part of a flood control project which entails uncovering Harbor Brook and extending the Meriden Green to Cedar Street.
In exchange, the city gave the housing authority a parcel on State and Mill streets to build Meriden Commons I and II, a 151-unit mixed income housing complex. 
The city received a $2 million state grant to pay for the demolition and hired Bestech Inc. of Ellington for $1.9 million through a competitive bid process. The company is performing environmental cleanup and has begun to take down the buildings in sections.
The company will remove the exterior bricks and then weaken the base of each building until it “basically falls down on itself,” Burdelski said this spring.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. It wasn’t known Monday if the discovery of additional asbestos would impact the timeline.
City officials initially hoped to raze the Mills this spring, however, the project hit several snags, including delays in relocating the remaining Mills tenants, said Meriden Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Cappelletti.
"Obviously it's very exciting for the new projects to go up and the old to come down," Cappelletti said. "It will be an amazing transformation for the downtown area."

Wallingford’s East Center Street bridge project remains stalled

WALLINGFORD — It may feel like construction began on replacing the century-old East Center Street bridge many years ago.
In reality, it’s only been two years, but a Center Street (Route 150) business owner is wondering if there’s any end in sight. Work has been halted for about a year for some redesigns.
Srijan Katwal, manager of Global Food Mart and gas station, 570 Center St. said business has been slowed by the uncompleted bridge replacement.
“We invested so much money in here,” Katwal said Monday, installing new gas tanks and expanding the convenience store. “We started working, and they stopped working.”
The business reopened in February, but the issue of the bridge work remained. The main problem, Katwal said, is obstructed access to the business.
“Sometimes, a few customers come in,” he said, “and they say, ‘you guys are open but I can’t come in because traffic is bad. I have to come out of it, I don’t want to waste the time.’”
The construction equipment and dumpsters left by the contractor, New Haven-based company C.J. Fucci, are blocking the view of his business, he said.
Not all business owners are complaining. Lucy Pacheco, owner of Lucy’s Laundry, 549 Center St., said her customers were inconvenienced more before the work halted.
“When they’re working, that’s when I see the problem,” Pacheco said Monday. “People want to drop off their laundry, and when they’re working, the road gets so busy it’s not easy to get the customers.”
Kevin Nursick, state Department of Transportation spokesman, said Monday that the construction timeline has been extended and  a new timeline is hard to pin down. He said it will be at least two more months before work can recommence, and the project is now expected to last until the summer of 2020.
“This is kind of a rarity,” he said. “In this business, there’s always the potential for unforeseen circumstances.”
The original price was $4 million and completion date was Nov. 30, 2018.
A new price that reflects changes in magnitude, order and scope of work will be available after negotiations with the contractor are completed.
Nursick said since the bridge’s structural integrity was under review, “this is not a circumstance we can afford to rush, or else the consequences can be significant.”
The DOT, which is responsible for maintenance because Route 150 is a state highway, rated the 104-year-old bridge over Wharton Brook structurally deficient, and recommended replacement to meet current design standards.
Bridge replacement work began in August 2016. The construction area spans from Elm Street to Pomeroy Avenue.
The project calls for a concrete deck over a steel girder superstructure supported by concrete abutments resting on bedrock. The new bridge will be about 13 feet longer and 1 foot wider than the old bridge, and it will have sidewalks on each side.
The bridge replacement is being done in two phases, and it’s currently in the middle of the first phase. Traffic was pushed to the south side, and the bridge was demolished on the north side.
Construction delays began when the contractor raised concerns that demolition work on the abutments could destabilize the support structure.
DOT had to verify the stability of the existing abutment, and found the structure was stable but in need of some minor redesigns  necessary for a temporary earth retaining system.
“We added additional piles,” Dan Stasko, DOT supervising engineer, said Monday, “which reinforced the temporary shoring for the existing structure.”
Work has been stopped for about a year. Since the project has been delayed for so long, Stasko said, there were some price increases that DOT and the contractor are still settling.
“We are very close to having the initial portion of it resolved,” he said, “enough to get (the contractor) back to work.”

Dillon Stadium overhaul experiencing 'unexpected surprises'

While the Hartford Athletic is still expected to kick off its inaugural season in the Capital City in April, the overseers renovating Dillon Stadium are uncovering several infrastructure issues at the 83-year-old stadium.
Construction crews have found "unexpected surprises" throughout the stadium, including an outdated concrete bleacher foundation and the field being one foot higher from one end, according to Michael Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), the agency overseeing the $10 million renovations.
CRDA, Freimuth says, has made progress responding to the antiquated foundation, which is fixed in "very bad" soils at the site. Crews have poured spread footings almost 11 feet deep to counter the supporting system problems with the buildings and bleachers, he said.
To avoid project cost overruns, Freimuth said CRDA is considering a variety of changes to stay under budget, including reducing the stadium's capacity from 6,000 to 5,000 seats.
The seat reduction would allow CRDA to cut the number of restrooms and concessions needed to accommodate a capacity crowd at the historic stadium situated in Colt Park.
CRDA has also considered retaining the stadium's old scoreboard instead of buying new, he said.
Despite the project's barriers thus far, Freimuth said the stadium remains on target to open in mid-to-late April if the winter weather is not too harsh. Crews broke ground at the stadium in August.
The Athletic will play 30 games in Hartford next year, with several airing on the United Soccer League's (USL) media partner, ESPN. Its schedule is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
In February, the state Bond Commission approved $10 million for renovating the stadium, which has hosted numerous high school football and pro soccer games and rock concerts since it was built in 1935.
As part of the renovations, the field will be moved east toward Huyshope Avenue to create additional room for seats closer to the artificial turf field.
The Athletic received more than 1,000 season ticket commitments by the time it was named as the USL's newest team in July.
Owned by the Hartford Sports Group (HSG) -- led by CEO and Chairman Bruce Mandell, and co-partners Joseph Calafiore Jr. and Scott Schooley -- the team is joining the USL, a Division II pro soccer league, with five other expansion teams.

September 24, 2018

CT Construction Digest Monday September 24, 2018

School building project hits a snag

Skyler Frazer
NEW BRITAIN – Though the Smalley Elementary School project broke ground more than four months ago, city officials are worried the city will be on the hook for funding not reimbursed from the state.
But, according to school district officials, everything is fine regarding the project.
“There seems to be a breakdown in communication and a misunderstanding of facts,” said Ray Moore, the chief facilities officer for the school district.
The dispute surrounding the Smalley Elementary School project can be traced back to another project in the city – the Gaffney Elementary School project from 2013-2015.
After state-funded projects are completed, officials from the state conduct an audit on the project before officially closing the books. According to the city’s Finance Director Lori Granato, that audit never happened. Granato emailed Mayor Erin Stewart last Friday after talking with someone from the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services and said that until the Gaffney project is officially closed, the city will not be reimbursed for construction costs at Gaffney, which have already reached about $4.8 million.
“The state told us they’re not paying us for anything Smalley-related until Gaffney’s closed out, now this could be up to six months until they audit and close out Gaffney,” Stewart told The Herald on Friday.
But, according to officials from the school district, the city is not at risk of losing reimbursement funding from the state. Moore said he spoke to Kosta Diamantis, Director of the School Construction Grants & Review office in the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services, on Friday and Diamantis assured him everything was according to plan.
According to Moore, the state recently adopted a new software system for filing information related to school building-related projects. The software officially switches over Oct. 1, but in the meantime, the old system can’t be used.
Moore said DeAmentis assured him that the reimbursement information for the project can be filed on Oct. 9-10 during the training session for the new software program. Both Moore and School Superintendent Nancy Sarra will be there during the training session.
“I called Kosta and he said ‘You’re going to enter your reimbursement forms that day … I’m going to approve the reimbursement and you’re going to get reimbursed,’” Moore said of his conversation with Diamantis.
While the Gaffney Elementary School project was completed in September 2015, an audit was not conducted immediately. Shortly after work on the school finished, the school district went to court with a contractor on the project who was asking for more money. This process went on for almost a year, and, since it dealt with finances, the district needed to keep the Gaffney project open.
By the time the court case was settled and documents were updated, the school district had already shifted its focus to other projects like Smalley. Sarra said that the school district’s facilities department is already “bare bones” when focusing on current projects. Somewhere along the line, finalizing paperwork for Gaffney’s project fell through the cracks.
Still, according to Moore and Sarra, everything is on track. Moore said Diamantis assured him that the city’s reimbursement will be approved regardless of whether Gaffney’s audit has been completed yet. Moore will be able to file the reimbursements during the session on Oct. 9-10.
Stewart called the process frustrating. She said this is another example of why the school district and city should collaborate on services like a finance department.
“While I’m appreciative that we are getting things back in order, I feel like, once again, the city is left trying to clean up the Board of Education’s mess,” Stewart said. “There’s a good possibility that we may have to bring construction to a halt because we won’t be able to afford payments.”
Kosta Diamantis from the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services did not return a call for comment.

Focus now on closing Plainville-Southington trail gap

Devin Leith-Yessian
PLAINVILLE — With the completion of a 0.8-mile strip of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Cheshire, attention has turned to the only remaining gap — a 5.3-mile section in town.
A trail route approved by the Town Council on Feb. 20 is awaiting state funding. Once funds are in place, the engineering phase will begin, including public outreach, surveys and designs.
“I’m thinking that our best estimate for the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail being completed in Connecticut is 2023,” said Bruce Donald, a coordinator with the East Coast Greenway Alliance.
People using the trail overcome the gap by following roads and sidewalks through town, which presents risks for users.
 “It does take away from its glamour as a completed through trail,” Donald said.
The Department of Transportation’s project manager, Scott Bushee, said construction will likely be divided into two phases: a section from Town Line Road to Route 372, slated to start in 2022, and a section from Route 372 to Northwest Drive, expected to start after that.
The trail currently ends at Lazy Lane near the Plainville-Southington line.
Unlike most of the rest of the trail, the Plainville portion cannot use rail beds because the rail line in town is still being used.
The proposed trail route is 98 percent off road, but runs along pieces of Broad Street, Pierce Street and North Washington Street.
While public outreach could impact the final route, Bushee expects it will look similar to the one approved by the Town Council.
“I think the (route) that was developed in the planning study is generally what the trail is going to look like,” he said. “The town seems to be very supportive of the alignment.”
While the Town Council was unanimous in its approval of the route, public support was more mixed.
Many opposed the plan because it would pass close to some homes, raising concerns about noise, littering, safety and property values.

Larson must show CT the money for tunnel plan

Greg Bordonaro
In the memorable 1996 film "Jerry Maguire," a cocky Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, Rod Tidwell — played by Cuba Gooding Jr. — repeatedly echoed the phrase, "Show me the money," insisting he get a higher-paying contract.
The phrase has become part of the American lexicon — even being repeated by two former presidents — and has taken on various meanings.
It's relevant today when discussing Congressman John Larson's ambitious plan to bury I-84 and I-91 in tunnels to ease traffic congestion and open up Hartford to the Connecticut River.
Larson originally raised this idea about two years ago, describing it as a potential game-charger for the city and region, arguing it would reconnect Hartford, which has been split for decades by interstate highways, and re-open access to the Connecticut River.
Both are exciting opportunities that would likely lead to new real estate and other positive developments in a city desperate to grow its grand list. But a key question remains: How would Connecticut afford a project with a price tag that ranges anywhere from $10 billion to as high as $50 billion, according to one estimate.
This is where Larson, who insists the federal government should cover a significant portion of the costs, must show Connecticut taxpayers the money.
Larson's tunnel plan is getting new attention after the 10-term Democrat invited Seattle officials to Hartford so they can share their experiences with a recent tunnel project that will reconnect that city with the Puget Sound. However, they brought with them a stark warning: Don't rely too heavily on federal funding.
Seattle officials said their soon-to-open, $3.3 billion highway tunnel project, which will replace an aging viaduct, received federal funding that accounted for only about 25 percent of the total price tag.
If Connecticut saw similar federal support, Larson's tunnel vision would be too costly, particularly at a time when Connecticut's transportation fund is depleted.
Larson, who is on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, insists there is renewed focus on infrastructure investment at the federal level, but we've yet to see any real action.
President Donald Trump made infrastructure investment one of his top campaign pledges, but there's no clear path to actual legislation.
Some say if Democrats take control of the House and Senate this November, it could increase the odds of a major infrastructure investment bill, but even then Connecticut isn't guaranteed any funding.
We must also take into consideration future costs for tunnel maintenance. Too often, we focus on the upfront price tag of a new project, but forget about the costs to maintain it in the future. That's why Connecticut has billions of dollars in unfunded transportation projects, including critical upgrades to aging bridges and highways.
Would a new tunnel system also require highway tolling or other new revenues to help pay for it? The tunnel plan must be discussed in larger context of Connecticut's overall transportation goals and needs.
We applaud Larson for thinking big and bringing the two-tunnel idea back to the table. It's important to fully vet the plan, which could have the added benefit of repairing Harford's and East Hartford's crumbling levees.
(Seattle officials also said their tunnel project has led to $1 billion in new real estate investment as a result of investors buying and renovating properties near the city's soon-to-be defunct viaduct, which is a promising sign for the city of Hartford.)
This conversation comes at a critical juncture, when state transportation officials are moving ahead with plans to replace the aging I-84 viaduct, a project that will undoubtedly be impacted by a tunnel plan.
If Larson can get the federal government to shoulder a large portion of the construction we'd certainly want to learn more.
Until then, Larson's plan will remain a pipe dream.


September 21, 2018

CT Construction Digest Friday September 21, 2018

Bond Commission approves projects worth $795 M

Ken Dixon
In what might be Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s last meeting presiding over the State Bond Commission, the Democrat-dominated panel approved about $795 million in capital projects, from brownfield cleanups to school safety and open space acquisition, along with millions for local projects around Connecticut.
Included was $60 million to design and build a new 1,000-space parking garage near the Stamford train station, taking the place of a since-abandoned plan for a larger-scale, public/private development.
“We have a crisis in terms of timing for the removal of the old garage,” said James Redeker, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, adding that the project is about one-tenth finished. “We have a lot of work to get it to final design. This is literally between the railroad and (Interstate) 95, in a very very tight spot. It’s a very very challenging place to construct.”
“We’ll continue to own the property that this current garage is on, which is just steps from the station,” Malloy told the commission. The project includes a pedestrian connection to the garage; and the demolition of the existing garage, and a new 500,000-square-foot building, under construction to become the new home of Charter Communications.
The panel also approved $200 million in school construction funding and $10 million for the state’s competitive-grant program to reimburse towns and cities for hardening security systems around and in public schools, including security cameras and the installation of metal detectors.“Since taking office I have always maintained that if we want to compete for jobs and economic opportunities we need to invest in building communities where people want to live and businesses want to grow,” Malloy said after the commission meeting. “It’s a holistic approach to job creation and economic development. It’s about housing. It’s about transportation, it’s about education, and many other strengths that makes Connecticut a great place.”
Malloy said the panel’s meeting will be its last until at least the Nov. 6 election and possibly his last before leaving office in January. “Investing in our communities is a core component of forward-thinking economic-development efforts,” he said.
The commission also approved:
$12 million for Metro-North stations to install new fiber-optic systems for better public address systems; and LED display signs, and security cameras.
$10 million for the reconstruction of the New Haven Public Works facility.
$10 million for brownfield remediation projects in the state.
$10 million for the creation of affordable housing units.
$8.8 million extend four more years of support for Aer Lingus to continue cross-Atlantic flights from Bradley International Airport.
$5.5 million for the purchase of a parcel in the Yale West section of Orange.
$5.5 million for the Crescent Crossing project in Bridgeport, replacing the former Marina Village.
$5 million, on top of $15 million previously allocated for Synchrony Bank in Stamford.
$5 million to the Stamford-based Gartner, Inc. market-research firm, to expand its headquarters in the South End, retaining 1,385 jobs and creating 400 new jobs.
$5 million for open space acquisition; plus $5 million for the statewide asbestos-removal program.
$5 million to upgrade the electric, heating and safety systems in the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk.
$4.3 million for Bridgeport projects, including $1.2 million to cap the Seaside Park landfill; $1.5 million for exterior renovations to historic McLevy Hall; and $1.6 million to demolish the long-broken Pleasure Beach Bridge.
$4 million for preliminary improvements to Interstate-95 between Exit 19 in Fairfield and Exit 27A in Bridgeport.
$3 million for the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.
$2.3 million for the repair and replacement of sidewalks in New Haven.
$1.5 million to dredge a channel adjacent to Cove Island Park in Stamford.
$1 million to rehabilitate the historic Curtiss Hanger off of Main Street in Stratford, at the Sikorsky Memorial Airport.
$1 million to replace the roof of the historic Warner Theater in Torrington, through the Northwestern Connecticut Association for the Arts.
$650,000 for the Stratfield Village Business District in Fairfield.
$650,000 to Operation Hope, Inc. for the acquisition and renovation of four affordable housing units on Durrell Drive in Fairfield.
$500,000 for the Common Ground Charter High School, so the New Haven-based school can repay debts.
$370,000 to repair to repair the historic reproduction of the Amistad slave ship.

New Haven lawmakers welcome $13.5 million in funds for local projects

By News Staff
NEW HAVEN — More than $13 million in state funding was approved Thursday by the State Bond Commission.
The money is “critical” for several local initiatives, area officials said in a news release. A $10 million grant for reconstruction of the New Haven Public Works facility was approved, as was a $2.3 million grant to finance repairs and replacement of various sidewalks throughout the city. A $575,000 grant for improvements to Little League baseball fields in Fairmont Park was awarded, along with a $500,000 grant to assist Common Ground School with repayment of debt. A $217,597 grant-in-aid will be used for construction of a playground and splash pad at DeGale Field.
“New Haven’s delegation in continuing to deliver significant funding for critical infrastructure improvements and community-oriented projects,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney said in the release. “The funding for sidewalk paving and the Public Works garage will save New Haven taxpayers more than $12 million. I want to thank Governor Malloy for his support of these projects and my fellow delegation members for their work in securing this funding.”
New Haven could also benefit from a state-wide $10 million grant to provide supplemental funding for the Brownfields Remediation and Revitalization Program. The funds will be used to provide grants and low-interest loans to eligible applicants for the remediation of contaminated brownfield sites to bring them back to productive use.
“These investments will directly translate to new activities for our children, less brownfields, and a more walkable New Haven, which are important pieces to moving our city forward,” state Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, said in the release. “I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in the legislature to bring state money back to our city so New Haven taxpayers don’t have to bear the total cost of these projects.”
Parks improvements were a priority for several lawmakers.
“I have been working hard to enhance and maintain locations that focus on safe family activities and DeGale Field was one,” state Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, said in the release. “This $217,597 grant will help refurbish a very popular community park.”
State Rep. Alphonse Paolillo, D-New Haven, said he is pleased to see the projects move forward. “The Public Works building, in desperate need of repair, will serve the community for years to come after renovations are complete,” he said. “Additional state funding for citywide sidewalk repairs will promote pedestrian safety along with much needed residential and business infrastructure improvements.”
State Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, joined in thanking legislative colleagues for helping secure the funds for New Haven.
“All of these projects will help to improve the quality of life in New Haven for children and families,” she said. “Thanks also to the governor and Bond Commission members for acting on our bond applications.”
The money will help strengthen the city’s infrastructure, state Rep. Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, said in the release.
“The repairs and replacement to various sidewalks along with reconstruction of the Public Works Facility will improve the quality of life of our residents,” Candelaria said. “I thank the State Bond Commission for investing in our community.”

EB presents $850 million expansion, improvement plans to the public

Julia Bergman
Groton — Electric Boat on Thursday night held a meeting to present its plans for an $850 million project to expand and improve its Groton shipyard, including a new construction bay where a new class of ballistic-missile submarines will be built.
More than 50 people turned out for the meeting at the City of Groton Municipal Building, where they got to ask questions of representatives from EB and Fuss & O'Neill, the environmental consulting company assisting with the project.
"We have an opportunity to help recapitalize our nation's submarine fleet at a time when our nation desperately needs that," Maura Dunn, EB's vice president of human resources, told attendees at the start of the meeting.
In a few years, EB will start construction on 12 new ballistic missile submarines, known as the Columbia-class program. It plans to construct a new assembly facility and floating dry dock to accommodate this work in its south yard. The intent is to bring many of the materials into the site by water to help reduce congestion on roadways and construction traffic, said Ted DeSantos with Fuss & O'Neill.
The ballistic missile submarines will involve more than twice the amount of work that goes into building an attack submarine. If stood on end, one of these new ballistic missile submarines would be as tall as the Washington Monument.
The new assembly facility for the ballistic missile submarines is expected to be comparable in size to the green construction bay on the waterfront where attack submarines are steadily being assembled. EB says it needs the new facilities so that it can build attack submarines and ballistic missile submarines at the same time. The company is about 15 percent into the detailed design process for project, and construction of the buildings is expected to occur from 2019 to 2023.
Some of the neighbors in the immediate vicinity of EB's south yard are unhappy with the plans, and had met with representatives from EB several times prior to Thursday's meeting to air their concerns. Frank Ricci, a resident of Eastern Point Road, who worked for EB for 34 years, retiring in 2003, said he's planning to ask the City of Groton for a tax abatement, given that the new assembly building will block his water views.
"We've heard loud and clear from those directly on Eastern Point (Road) that we stick to ourselves, so we're trying to turn the corner and bring a new day. We're reaching out a little bit more than we have," Dunn said. "I think some of that is the secret nature of our work, but we're going to try and do a better job."
Jeff Nichols, who lives on Chapman Street off Eastern Point Road, said he's concerned about his water view being gone and the impact that will have on his property value. He's also worried about the noise from the construction, pollution and traffic. Nichols said he respects the work that EB does in support of national security, "but this affects us."
"We're not anti-American because we don't want a big 140-foot building put in our backyard," he said.
Sherry Casagranda, who's lived on Chapman Street for 20 years, echoed his concerns.
"Property values are really going to tank," she said.
EB said it looked at alternatives for where to site the new assembly building but none of them worked for a variety of reasons. It submitted permits to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers in late May. Both agencies are reviewing those permits. The company will need to dredge the area around where the new construction will occur. The Army Corps of Engineers will determine the site where the dredging material will be disposed.
EB has 16,800 employees companywide, 11,600 of whom live in Connecticut. As of August, the company had hired 2,594 people, 840 of whom were Connecticut residents at the time they were hired.

Report: Connecticut ranks 4th nationally in share of bridges over 50 years old

Kimberly Drelich
Hartford — Connecticut ranks fourth nationally in its share of bridges that are 50 years old or older, with more than half of its bridges having reached that age, according to a new report.
The report on the condition of Connecticut's bridges, released Thursday by TRIP, a nonprofit transportation organization, also finds that 308 of the state's 4,254 bridges are rated as "structurally deficient," which it defines as having "significant deterioration of the bridge deck, supports or other major components." The report says 4.3 million vehicles travel on those structurally deficient bridges on a daily basis.
Rocky Moretti, TRIP's director of policy and research, said the report is not suggesting that the bridges are putting drivers at risk, as the state's engineers would have closed the structures if they thought the spans were unsafe.
But it's still a problem for Connecticut.
"The state faces a significant challenge in addressing this aging system of bridges and finding the resources at both the state and local level to not only repair and, in some cases, replace structurally deficient bridges, but also to ensure that as these bridges get older that they get the type of repairs and care that are needed to extend their service life and to help support the state's economy," he said at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building on Thursday.
Moretti was joined at the news conference by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; state Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, co-chair of the General Assembly's Transportation Committee; Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association; and Lyle Wray, executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments.
TRIP, based in Washington, "is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction, labor unions, and organizations concerned with an efficient and safe surface transportation network that promotes economic development and quality of life," according to the organization's website.
New London County
Thirty-two of the structurally deficient bridges are in New London County, which has 421 bridges overall, according to the report, which uses data from the state Department of Transportation.
The state DOT inspects bridges at least every two years, DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said in a phone interview Thursday. Bridges are rated on a 0 to 9 scale. Those that are considered "structurally deficient" have received a rating of 4 or less — based on National Bridge Inspection Standards — on their deck, superstructure or substructure.
In the report, TRIP lists rankings by county of the "most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges" and of the bridges with the "lowest individual score for either deck, substructure or superstructure." It includes both state- and municipality-maintained bridges.
In New London County, the most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridge is the one that carries I-95 over Route 161 in East Lyme, which was built in 1958. DOT plans to go out to bid in 2020 for a project to replace that span.
The northbound Gold Star Memorial Bridge, built in 1943, is the next most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridge in New London County. A construction project for that span is scheduled to go out to bid at the end of January 2019, according to DOT.
The list in New London County further includes such structures as the I-395 bridge over Route 97 and the Shetucket River in Norwich, and the Route 1 span over the Pawcatuck River in Stonington, among others.
Nursick confirmed that all of the New London County "structurally deficient" bridges that are maintained by the state and listed in the report are part of DOT's program to be rehabilitated or replaced, or are already under construction. When a bridge receives a rating of 4 or less, it triggers a DOT program to rehabilitate, reconstruct or replace that structure.
He said that over the course of a bridge's lifespan, DOT conducts routine maintenance and construction programs to keep up the structure's condition. But eventually, the bridge will need a more thorough response to address the natural deterioration and aging process. That's when DOT engages the rehabilitation, reconstruction or replacement of the bridge.
He said the designation of being "structurally deficient" is a normal benchmark in a bridge's lifespan, which is monitored, and is not necessarily a safety issue.
"The issue at hand is making sure we have the funding to maintain those necessary programs to address short-term and long-term rehabilitation and replacement of these structures," Nursick said.
He said 8.6 percent of DOT's 4,017 bridges were considered structurally deficient in 2012, with the percentage dropping to 5.2 percent in 2017.
During the news conference, Guerrera said it is important to pass the transportation "lockbox" amendment on the ballot for the November election, while Blumenthal called for a bipartisan response on both the federal and state levels.
"The time for talk has gone," Blumenthal said. "The time for action was yesterday, and we have a responsibility to do it now."
Shubert said the more than 300 structurally deficient bridges in Connecticut are part of "a growing problem."
"It's only indicative of a small part of a growing problem with the thousands of bridges in Connecticut that are over 50 years old, that are over their design life, that are operating over capacity and are subjected to all sorts of de-icing chemicals every winter, so there's a bigger problem brewing under today's report," he said.
Connecticut's transportation network has faced an under-investment in infrastructure over the past 50 years, and many structures in the state were built in the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s and have a 50-year design life, Wray said.

Bond Commission OKs millions for Hartford, other projects

Joe Cooper
The state Bond Commission on Thursday approved tens of millions of dollars for numerous economic development projects during one of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's last commission meetings before his term ends in January.
The 10-member commission overwhelmingly approved funding for three Hartford projects that will bring hundreds of new apartments and a grocery store near Dunkin' Donuts Park.
The Bond Commission approved $52.69 million in projects pitched by the the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), the quasi-public state agency spearheading investments in the Capital City and surrounding areas.
Connecticut Innovations (CI), the state's quasi-public venture capital arm, also received approval for $43.5 million to recapitalize its programs and provide additional funding for its subsidiary, CTNext, a entrepreneurship booster.
Other CRDA projects that received funding approval included:
  • $12 million to support 150 to 200 apartments planned as part of the Downtown North redevelopment, adjacent to Dunkin' Donuts Park.
  • $8.67 million to support building a grocery store at Albany Avenue and Main Street, which has been a long-awaited addition to downtown Hartford.
  • $8.4 million for Spinnaker Real Estate Partners' planned 108-unit market-rate apartment project at the corner of Park and Main streets.
  • $3 million to the Bushnell Center for mechanical and electrical upgrades, code and safety improvements, other improvements to its roof, restrooms and a flooring replacement.
The state Department of Economic and Community Development projects include:
  • $13 million to the U.S. Navy to build an emergency management center at the submarine base in New London.
  • $10 million for the Brownfield Remediation and Development program. The group is studying the remediation and development of brownfields across Connecticut.
  • $8.8 million to Aer Lingus to maintain its Bradley-Dublin route.
  • $5 million for a loan to support Gartner Inc. creating 400 new jobs.
  • $5 million to support grants and loans for the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund.
Construction Begins On Elaborate Food Market In Hartford's Parkville Neighborhood

The long vacant warehouse at 1400 Park St., less than a mile from the city’s western gateway, showed signs of life Thursday as the developer behind an ambitious effort to build a food hall plunged a golden shovel into the ground, marking the start of construction on the 20,000-square-foot facility.
Carlos Mouta envisions two floors of food vendors and other retail outlets in the building he purchased at the turn of the century. A produce section, a test kitchen and an entertainment space complete with a wet bar are in the carefully laid plans for the venture, dubbed the Parkville Market.Construction will run through the winter, and an opening is scheduled for April.
“Where I came from in Mozambique, there were markets everywhere. They come alive,” Mouta said. “And people gather there for many things, not just to buy stuff. They go there to get together. When I go away, I always end up at a market.”The project calls for 22 vendors on the ground level selling freshly cooked food that represents the city and its many flavors. Everything from Vietnamese fare to Mexican cuisine is to be served.Along with the permanent fixtures, there will be space for new entrepreneurs to try their hand at the food business. The plans include five booths whose tenants will rotate throughout the year.
The market’s second floor would feature a blend of other retail, such as a coffee shop, a bar or tavern, an ice cream parlor and kiosks selling jewelry, flowers, stationery and spices. Mouta said he is hoping for 35 vendors on the upper level.
So far, he said, he’s received inquiries from more than 40 business owners in charge of restaurants, food trucks and coffee bars across the Hartford region. Applicants include Hartford Baking Co., The Rocking Chicken, Taco Tequila, Nora’s Cupcakes, Karobean Kitchen and Hartford Prints. Story and Soil, a cafe that opened last summer on Capitol Avenue, is looking to expand with a new space in the market. The development is estimated at $3 million to $3.5 million and is backed in part by a $300,000 loan and $100,000 grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. Mouta said the rest will be covered by a bank loan.
The market would run seven days a week, year-round.
A throng of politicians and community leaders gathered at the site Thursday to acknowledge the latest enterprise in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Parkville. A brewery, recording studio and screen printing company have opened there in recent years.
“This is the combination of a great building, great development, great ideas, a new system of transportation and the ability to make some timely investments,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, with a nod to his CTfastrak bus line. “It couldn’t happen at a better place or a better time.”
Mouta, who owns several properties in Parkville, called the area “vibrant” and “unique.”
“I believe if you build it, they will come,” he said. “I’ve seen it with the 170-plus new market-rate units in Parkville, over 1,000-plus units in downtown Hartford, the Convention Center, Front Street and the Yard Goats.”
Once the market is open, Mouta wants to expand it into the two neighboring buildings at 1390 and 1420 Park St. He is hoping for an “urban winery” and other unexpected tenants.

New Britain Mayor Sounds Alarm Over School Construction Monies

Alarmed that millions of dollars in state funding might be at risk, Mayor Erin Stewart is pressing the school system to resolve delays in filing crucial paperwork.
Until there’s a solution, the city might have to absorb $1 million to $2 million in short-term borrowing costs, Stewart said.
In a memo to Stewart last week, city Finance Director Lori Granato warned of an even more serious consequence. She said state aid for the $53 million Smalley School renovation and expansion might be in jeopardy, leaving the city to either pay the bills itself or halt construction.
“This is extremely disturbing. How in God’s name will we pay for this?,” Stewart wrote in a Sept. 14 memo to Granato.Schools Superintendent Nancy Sarra, however, has told Stewart the situation is under control. The schools plan to submit all overdue documents to the state by Oct. 1, Sarra said in a memo to the mayor on Monday.
The dispute arose last week when Granato was in a conference call with officials from the state Department of Administrative Services.
The agency told Granato that New Britain schools were years behind in filing a final audit and other closing documentation for the $30 million Gaffney School renovation. Construction ended more than three years ago.
Without that project officially closed, the state won’t supply its share of roughly $50 million in renovations costs for Smalley Academy, she said.
“To be clear, the city will receive no state reimbursement for Smalley until Gaffney is closed and deemed ‘final’ per the state,” Granato told Stewart in a memo. More troubling, Granato wrote, is that the administrative services department said it had no record of Smalley work getting underway. Without proper authorization, the state won’t put up its $38 million share of the work, she wrote.
That leaves the city with the choice of temporarily borrowing up to $38 million to keep current on bills, or shut down the Smalley project until the matter is resolved, she wrote.
Educators, however, maintain that state aid is not at risk.
Sarra said she sent copies of three letters over the past year in which the administrative services department authorized the Smalley construction to proceed.
Stewart could not be reached Thursday afternoon for comment.

Malloy defends investment record at penultimate Bond Commission meeting

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, keenly aware of the unwelcome role his record is playing in the campaign to succeed him, spent one of his final State Bond Commission meetings Thursday defending state borrowing made during his tenure to promote economic development statewide and help Connecticut’s struggling capital city.
On a day when a new jobs report showed unemployment dropping to 4.3 percent after four consecutive months of jobs growth, Malloy sparred with Republicans over more than $220 million in borrowing approved by the commission in its last meeting before Election Day, at times sounding a valedictory note about an administration that exits on Jan. 9.
“It’s about housing. It’s about transportation. It’s about education, and many other strengths that make Connecticut a great place,” Malloy said. “And rebuilding our cities has been at the core of our efforts to achieve longterm improvement of the state’s economy and quality of life. We have made the critical investments in those areas since Day One, and we did it once again today.”
Hartford, which teetered on the brink of fiscal insolvency until a state bailout this spring assumed a massive portion of city debt, was a major beneficiary of the commission’s actions at its last meeting before Malloy, a Democrat who previously served as mayor of Stamford, officially becomes a lame duck.
Malloy, who says he expects at least one more commission meeting before he leaves office, was asked by reporters after the meeting if he is anxious to press forward on an agenda that may not be embraced by his successor.
“I suppose I wonder what somebody else is going to do, but I want to remind everybody there’s only one governor at a time,” Malloy said. “I’m governor until the end of my term, and I will work just as hard every day…to the end of the term, as I have previously.”
The panel approved nearly $53 million in financing for several projects overseen by the quasi-public Capital Region Development Authority, which has leveraged private investment in Hartford with low-cost financing and grants. The projects funded Thursday include:
  • A development featuring 108 units of housing and commercial space at the corner of Park and Main streets on the southern edge of downtown.
  • Loans to support the Downtown North redevelopment project near the Dunkin Donuts Park, the home of a minor-league baseball team, and refurbishment of historic retail buildings along nearby Albany Avenue. 
  • Development of a grocery store on Albany Avenue, the main thoroughfare though a minority community with limited access to fresh foods.
  • Expansion of the Charter Oak Health Center.
  • Construction of a state parking garage on Clinton Street near the State Office Building, which is now being refurbished. It  will provide parking for state employees and the public, including nighttime patrons of the nearby Bushnell Performing Arts Center.
  • Improvements to Great River Park in East Hartford on the Connecticut River.
Republicans in the House and Senate objected to the Hartford bailout deal, arguing the level of debt aid Malloy approved grossly exceeded the amount legislators had approved. The governor countered that GOP lawmakers misunderstood the bailout statute many of them approved.
But given the twin realities of that extensive debt assistance and the state’s ongoing fiscal woes, Rep. Chris Davis of Ellington, one of the Republicans on the commission, asked Malloy why Connecticut now should finance more local projects in the capital city — particularly around a baseball park  development that Malloy and legislators agreed shouldn’t receive state aid.
“So, in addition to taking on all of their debt, we said we would pay for all of the other projects they normally do?” Davis asked.Malloy, who chairs the bond commission and sets its agenda, responded that “we participate in those things on a regular basis” in many communities, including some wealthy ones.
The commission unanimously approved $650,000 in financing to assist with affordable housing development in Fairfield, an affluent community on the southwestern shoreline. A playground in Farmington also was approved.
But Thursday’s bond commission agenda also was peppered with far more items for cities and smaller urban centers, all of which were approved.
These included improvements to a public handball court in Manchester, Little League fields  and a “splashpad” playground in New Haven, dredging of the channel leading into Cove Island Park in Stamford, lighting for Wolcott Park in West Hartford, and a playscape for a West Haven elementary school.
“It is a proper role of government,” said Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, who also serves on the commission. Fonfara defended the spending on Hartford, noting that Connecticut businesses complain frequently about the state’s struggling cities and the lack of available workers in urban centers. “I think some perspective is necessary.”
Thad Gray, the Republican candidate for treasurer, said Malloy was engaging in pork-barrel spending on his way out the door. “It would be comical if the consequences weren’t so serious for the economic health of our state,” he said.
Davis would be on the losing end of eight commission votes on packages of proposed financing. In two instances, he was joined in dissent by the only other Republican on the 10-member bond commission, Sen. L. Scott Frantz of Greenwich.
Davis sparred with Malloy on matters other than financing for Hartford. More than $50 million in financing for Connecticut Innovations Inc. and its affiliate, CTNext, and another $53 million for Department of Economic and Community Development-endorsed business investments also proved a sore point for the Ellington Republican.
These projects dredged up the memory of Malloy’s first big economic investment, $291 million — borrowed at an interest cost of $150 million — to help finance a 173,000-square-foot genomic medicine research center near the University of Connecticut Health Center campus in Farmington. 
A huge chunk of that investment — $192 million — was a loan that would be forgiven provided it created at least 300 new jobs within a decade and retained them for two years. Jackson Laboratory met that requirement early, but Davis noted the company followed up its good fiscal fortune by expanding its Maine-based operation, which breeds mice for scientific research, and not its Connecticut site.
“We’ve bonded over  $1.7 billion … for economic development under the Malloy administration with little to no economic growth whatsoever. At some point, eight years in we should be questioning whether this is the way to do economic development,” Davis said.
Malloy was ready with statistics about the state’s economic growth, helped by a favorable monthly jobs report released earlier by the Department of Labor. It showed Connecticut with a fourth consecutive month of jobs growth in August, dropping the unemployment rate by a tenth of a point to 4.3 percent. The U.S. rate is 3.9 percent.
Connecticut now has recovered 113 percent of the private-sector jobs lost in the Great Recession of 2008, but the government sector has lagged, leaving the state with 88.5 percent of the jobs it had prior to the recession. The government sector, which includes  two tribal casinos facing increased competition, continued to shed jobs in August.
Malloy said he sees nothing wrong with a smaller state government.
“I wanted smaller government. I ran on smaller government,” Malloy said. “When I was mayor of Stamford, I shrunk city government by 10 percent. That’s what I did.”
Malloy said the private-sector numbers, which are much improved but still lagging much of the nation, are the better metric of the state’s economy.
“What’s most encouraging is that we now have created more than 23,000 private sector jobs over the last 12 months,” Malloy said. “That’s the biggest one-year gain since early 2011, when we were just beginning to recover from the Great Recession. This is not just a blip. It’s a long-term, positive trend, and it should be highly encouraging for Connecticut residents and businesses.”
He said the state’s investments in economic-development are part of that growth, as is his support of Hartford. He singled out two Hartford neighborhoods on the northern and southern edges of downtown, the recipients of state bonding approved Thursday that will leverage $100 million in private investments and produce jobs.
“Eight years ago, it would have been unimaginable to see private investments on this scale at these locations,” Malloy said. “It has been made possible by this administration’s steadfast and collaborative efforts to transform Hartford through development of thousands of housing units, bringing UConn to downtown, doubling down on the state’s presence in downtown with new office space, and many other projects.”
Plan calls for $5 million of improvements to Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium

WATERBURY – Mayor Neil M. O’Leary’s administration plans to spend $5 million adding a restroom-locker room building at Municipal Stadium, along with other improvements to the city’s premier sports complex.
The complex used to have bathrooms and locker rooms under its grandstands. These were to be replaced in a $4 million renovation begun in 2013. But disagreements with contractors and unexpectedly loose soil under the grandstands forced big changes to plans and increased costs.
The city ended up paying an extra $550,000 and got a lot less than anticipated when the complex reopened in 2016. There are new stands, scoreboard, lighting and the complex’s central baseball diamond was freshly landscaped.
But teams now use small rented trailers as locker rooms. There are no showers and no room for trainers. The 2,500-seat complex is served by a handful of porta-potties.
Post University Head Baseball Coach Ray Ricker said the beautiful sports field is one of the biggest selling points for athletes contemplating attending Post. But, invariably, visiting prospects always ask “where are the locker rooms?”
The porta-potties and trailer locker rooms are “kind of like putting hub caps on a Ferrari,” Ricker said Thursday.

O’Leary’s plan would also replace the turf field on the complex’s northern football/soccer field. It’s 12 years old, two years past the standard life for such fields, officials say. On Thursday, patches of green plastic turf poked through black plastic filling that’s been added to maintain the cushion.
“The turf is old and worn out,” Sacred Heart High School football coach Robert Guerin said Thursday as his players warmed up for practice. “It definitely needs to be redone.”
Guerin said the lack of proper locker rooms and facilities is a problem. Students have no consistent place to store their gear. It can be unsanitary.
“The kids are using a trailer with folding chairs, without lockers, like every other school in this city,” Guerin said.
O’Leary is asking aldermen to borrow $5 million for the upgrades. Local officials say they’re hopeful the state government will approve a grant to defray costs.
Even absent a grant, the $5 million shouldn’t cost taxpayers more than they’re paying currently, Finance Director Michael LeBlanc said. Old debt will be paid off as this new debt is taken on, he said.
Mayor Neil M. O’Leary noted that the “debacle” that saddled the recent renovation was launched under his predecessor. He’s using a new “design-build” contracting process in which the project designer and builder are hired under a single contract. If there’s a delay or any other problem, there will be a single entity clearly at fault, O’Leary said.
About $4 million of the project would be spent on the building, officials say, putting it well above earlier estimates.
“It’s clearly more money than we hoped, but it is obviously what you would call doing it right the first time,” O’Leary said. “It will meet the needs of the city for decades to come.”
O’Leary said the added amenities will allow the city to host a broader range of events, including NCAA Division I college baseball tournaments. These events will help draw people to the city and its businesses, he said.
Aldermen on Monday will be asked to set a date for a hearing on the borrowing request. Staff have suggested Oct. 9, the same day the board is to consider a contract with a company to build the bathroom-locker room building.
Mark Lombardo, supervisor of parks and golf courses, said he hopes to see the roughly 8,500-square-foot building finished by early next summer.
“Obviously, we want to attract top events, but it’s also for our own community, our own schools, our own residents to use,” Lombardo said. “We want them to come to a top-rated facility they will be proud to play in. Those memories will last forever.”