June 19, 2019

CT Construction Digest Wednesday June 19, 2019

Bethel to seek town attorney’s advice on police station issues
Julia Perkins
BETHEL — Officials plan to meet with the town attorney for advice on how to resolve ongoing problems at the new police station.Experts still have not figured out how to prevent water from appearing in the new firing range and the flagpole lights keep failing outside the $14.4 million headquarters, which officers moved into in October.
Just a few weeks ago, town officials had said they were satisfied the problems would be fixed at the station, which was nearly $889,000 over its budget.
But now the Public Site and Building Committee has requested a meeting to discuss how the town should push contractors, including main contractor Downes Construction Company, to fix these issues, said Nancy Ryan, vice chair of the committee.
As recently as last week, crews finished tasks that had been long stalled, such as installing a railing that is part of the requirement for the building’s permanent certificate of occupancy, Ryan said.
“That’s been a good move forward,” she said. “Yet, there are still a few outstanding issues that are still being dealt with. With the amount of time it’s been, we weren’t sure what the next steps were.”
The committee is not sure whether it should continue waiting for the problems to be resolved or “move in another direction,” Ryan said.
 “We may be just on the edge of getting a lot of things done, so that we don't have to deal with this,” she said.
The meeting between Ryan, the town attorney and the first selectman will be scheduled sometime soon, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said.
“I believe these things can be negotiated and the committee does, too,” he said. “The committee just wants some clarification on how to do that, how to proceed.”
The town attorney will need to review the contracts with the architect and construction company, as well as the committee’s concerns to make sure they are on “solid ground,” Knickerbocker.
“They (the committee members) don’t want to go through this thing without having a little bit advice,” he said. “It’s just a prudent step at this point.”
The committee is retaining money owed to Downes Construction until everything is resolved, Ryan said.The town attorney, the architect and the construction company could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday morning.
The new police station has long been controversial. In December 2014, voters narrowly rejected plans to build a $14.1 million headquarters, but approved a $13.5 million version the following year.But the cost overruns meant voters had to approve last year additional money to complete the station. But town officials have said Bethel will not need to spend any more money to fix the problems at the headquarters.
Tests have showed the proper materials were used when building the firing range walls, but those tests did not determine where the water leaking on the walls is coming from, Ryan said. The firing range is not open because the town still needs to purchase its specialized equipment, which was not part of the original budget.
The committee plans to meet with the construction manager, design team, representatives from the manufacturers and the subcontractors that installed the materials to figure out what to do.
“We really need to get some sort of resolve on this,” Ryan said. “We can't have a building that’s leaking.”

Final detour scheduled for Monroe Route 25 bridge project
Amanda Cuda
MONROE — A detour has been scheduled for the Route 25 bridge project from 8 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.
The raising of the road and a final configuration will be done at this time. All business access for properties located within the construction zone will remain open, although traffic will only be able to access by traveling south from the Stepney Green area.
Updates will be posted on the Monroe Police Department Facebook page.

Glastonbury to air 131-room hotel proposal
Joe Cooper
public hearing will be held Tuesday in Glastonbury to discuss a Massachusetts-based developer’s proposal to build a 131-room Marriott hotel within Somerset Square.
Plans show an LLC owned by The Claremont Company, of Bridgewater, Mass., is proposing to build a four-story, 131-unit hotel with 144 parking spaces at 75 Glastonbury Blvd. The site is located just south of the Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton Homewood Suites -- also owned by Claremont -- that overlooks Route 3 to the north.
Claremont acquired the property in June 2016 for $3 million, according to the town’s assessor’s office.
The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. at Town Hall to continue discussions over the plan, which has changed several times over the years.
The latest proposal by Claremont is a scaled-down version of a proposed 141-room hotel considered by the town earlier this year. In January, town officials questioned whether the hotel would conform with the surrounding commercial neighborhood, meeting minutes show.
If voted on and approved by zoning officials on Tuesday, the Town Council would still need to greenlight the project before construction starts.

New Haven apartment plans shown to community management team
Mary E. O'Leary  
NEW HAVEN — Two more market-rate apartment complexes, one downtown and one in Wooster Square, got their first public showing at Tuesday’s Wooster Square Downtown Community Management Team meeting.
Michael Massimino of Mass Construction wants to build 23 luxury apartments in three buildings he bought from St. Michael’s Church, a complex in popular Wooster Square that has through several potential developers, but has yet to produce a design that satisfies everyone.
Greene Street Holdings, LLC hopes to be the developer for the 234-240 Greene St. properties. Massimino said the plans are scheduled to be presented to the Historic District Commission and the City Plan Commission in July.
He said he wants to be able to qualify for state historic tax credits, which are a crucial component of his financing. He said he has hired an historic consultant for the project.

Massimino said he plans to widen the existing driveway on Greene Street to 24 feet to accommodate two-way traffic. He also plans to have 25 parking spaces on the site, which include some reserved spots for the church.
Anstress Farwell, of the New Haven Urban Design League, suggested the long strip of abandoned Chestnut Street could be used as a parking area that could be shared by the school, the church and residents. She said then Massimino wouldn’t need to widen the Greene Street entrance, which is where people walk the most.
Massimino said the primary change concerns the gymnasium once used by the long-closed school.
It is an existing one-story structure, but they are planning to add a floor which would accommodate two apartments. They plan to preserve the gymnasium and make it into a common amenity space, given their discussions with SHPO.
The units will range in size from 700 to 800 square feet for a one-bedroom at a cost of between $1,600 and $1,800 a month; two-bedrooms will range up to almost 1,600 square feet. The rent for those will be between $1,800 and $2,200 a month and feature two bathrooms.
Massimino said the prices for the larger units are between $800 to $1,000 less than some full-amenity buildings downtown.
He said they have done a lot of conversions in the Boston area and he promised to send images of those developments to the neighbors.

Downtown, Sholom Andrusier, the general manager of New Haven Towers, plans to build a 7-story building with 132 market-rate apartments, six stories of residential units with a substantial ground floor retail area.
The architect is Dov Feinmesser of Newman Architects.
The block is already home to Crown Tower and Crown Court. The new building will be at Crown and High Streets. The rest of the block is bound by York and George Streets. Altogether, they create a courtyard amenity which is somewhat underused, the architect said.
Feinmesser said part of the project is to try and continue a development and a retail environment along Crown Street that is already “quite thriving.”
It is also meant to highlight the intersection of High Street and Crown Street, while another goal is to re-invigorate the courtyard in addition to a new amenity space for all three apartment towers.
They are proposing to demolish an existing garage and the 90-day wait for demolition has already started. They will talk about that with the Historic District Commission.
The construction is stick frame over two levels of steel, with a basement level.
Farwell said in terms of colors and textures, the area needs a “lot more liveliness” rather than the shades of gray on nearby buildings. “Sometimes materials made all the difference,” she said.   
WATERBURY — The city has fenced off the majority of Library Park for a major renovation project, curbing access to one of the city’s busiest venues for concerts, festivals and other public events.
City officials are unable to say how long the majority of the park will be off limits. Even so, event organizers say the end result will be worth the logistical challenges.
“You can’t blame folks for doing a good thing, for improving a place,” said Warren Leach, one of the lead organizers for the annual Spirit of Unity Festival. “The overall feel for me is that not having Library Park as our traditional spot is a challenge, but we understand the improvements will make all events going forward better.”
Organized by the grass-roots UnGroup Society, the free festival has evolved from an annual R&B concert to include children’s events and social service outreach.
Leach said he plans to ask the city for use of Hamilton Park for the Aug. 24 festival. Without Library Park’s band-shell and power outlets, organizers will have to hire a generator and portable stage. It’s bumped the anticipated budget of $12,000 up to an estimated $16,500.
“Honestly, I put in the deposits for the artists, but I have no idea how we are going to pay for this or how it’s going to make it,” Leach said.
A designer hired on behalf of the city hasn’t yet finished design for renovations. For that reason, and the uncertain availability of utility companies, it’s uncertain when work will be completed or at what cost, Mayor Neil O’Leary said Tuesday.   
“There are just too many unknowns at this time,” O’Leary said.
Webster Bank has announced it will spend up to $1 million on the park effort. Additionally, the city has already committed $986,542 to the renovation from its federal Community Development Block Grant allocations for the current and coming fiscal years. O’Leary said it’s possible the city will allocate additional funding.
Officials have a broad idea of what they’d like to accomplish: reconstruction of pathways, tree-trimming, re-seeding of the lawn, new utility connections, restoration of an exterior brick wall. There may be work to update the band shell and repair a small parking lot.
The city has already begun tearing up pathways worn by time and warped by tree roots, along with some tree clearing. Over the past week, a temporary chain-link fence was put up, isolating the majority of the park.
Mackenzie Demac, O’Leary’s chief of staff, said the front segment of Library Park not enclosed by a fence will still be available for public events. The city plans to make enough room for special events, including an annual jazz festival, by also temporarily closing a portion of Grand Street on event dates, Demac said.
“These are important events to the city and the community, so we are assuring that collaborative conversations are being held to accommodate the needs,” Demac said.
Main Street Waterbury Executive Director Carl Rosa said Brass City Brew Fest will go on Sept. 7 as planned, making use of the portion of the park remaining open as well as Grand Street. He said the festival would continue like that as many years as necessary to complete the library project.
“If we have to keep it in the street and make it an old-fashioned street festival, so be it,” Rosa said. “We’ll adjust.”

Gov. Lamont ready to compromise on tolls in special session

On the day before a key meeting on electronic highway tolls, Gov. Ned Lamont says he is willing to compromise on the issue in a special session.
Lamont has pushed for tolls on Connecticut highways in the most high-profile issue of his administration. Opponents have rallied with numerous protests, including collecting 100,000 signatures on a petition against the tolls on Interstates 91, 95, and 84, as well as Route 15.
While some insiders think that a special session could be pushed into September due to summer vacations for legislators, Lamont said he wants it as soon as possible. He is hoping to make progress at Wednesday’s meeting with legislative leaders.
"I hope to convey that it’s a problem we’ve got to solve, and I need problem-solvers at the table,'' Lamont said following a send-off ceremony for the Connecticut Air National Guard in East Granby. "I’m ready to compromise, but let’s find something where the numbers add up so we can fix our transportation system. Let’s do it now.''

Lamont added, "I know there’s a tendency that we can study it some more, maybe we can put it off, maybe think about it later. I think now is the time for us to decide.''
With no date set yet for a special session, legislative leaders in the House and Senate will be checking the vacation calendars of the lawmakers.
"My time frame was last month,'' Lamont said when asked by The Courant. "I say it’s a decision that is long overdue, and let’s get on with it.''