Capital Program Priority Advisory Committee (CPPAC) members are seeking residents’ comments on capital projects that the committee is looking to recommend to the board of selectmen for bonding. Three informational sessions, held March 14, 16 and 19, attracted about 150 residents. There is still time for residents to make their comments/ concerns known by getting in touch with Town Manager John Ward. For more information and updates, please visit the town website: granby-ct.gov or the school website: granby.k12.ct.us
On April 1, the Board of Selectmen will vote to accept CPPAC projects for forwarding to the Board of Finance. According to the town charter, there will be a town meeting on Tuesday, May 28 to present the recommendation. Then on Tuesday, June 4, eligible town residents (registered voters and property owners) will vote in a referendum.
The CPPAC recommendations are: bridge replacements, ground mounted solar array and school infrastructure improvements.
Five bridges on the following roads are identified for replacement: Griffin, Moosehorn, Donahue, Simsbury and Hungary. The estimated gross cost to the town is $13,052,500. This amount would be bonded though the actual amount the town would pay is estimated at $4,064,750. The five bridges are eligible for partial state/federal funding which reduces town’s cost.
Grounded Mounted Solar Array
Granby has the opportunity to generate solar energy via virtual net metering and sell the excess to Eversource at market rate. Through a formal contract with Eversource, the project will benefit both the school district and the town: the school district will be eligible for school construction grants and the solar panel field will offset district electricity bills. An 11-acre donated parcel of land behind Wells Road School will be used to set up the ground panels. The district is waiting final word from the inland wetlands commission on how much of the parcel can be used. The program is in keeping with Granby’s conservation plan and has curriculum and instruction applications for the students.
School Infrastructure Improvements
These improvements address safety issues as well as academic and athletic facility needs primarily at the high school and reflect the recommendations made by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) after its accreditation visit last fall.
The improvements include parking lot repair and a staircase alteration in the high school building as well as providing upgrades and/or replacement for school roofs and/or HVAC systems at the middle and elementary schools to be replaced in the next five years.
The 20-year old high school complex needs upgrading to reflect current educational goals. With not enough space to deliver the high school science curriculum, a classroom space needs to be converted into a science lab. Robotics, family and consumer science and career technologies need expanded and modernized facilities. Additionally, the performing arts program requires space for growing drama and music offerings including a dedicated band practice area.
The high school library media center needs to be redesigned to accommodate 21st century technologies as well as dedicated teaching and tutorial spaces. Cafeteria facilities need to be added— they were cut out in previous high school upgrades to reduce costs. Athletic facility improvements include bringing water access and bathroom facilities to the fields, installing lights, and would complete the original plan to install the press box to provide adequate space for announcing and taping games.
The projected gross cost for the solar and school projects is $10,770,749. The net cost to the town is estimated at $6,773,993, taking into account funding from state, federal and business sources. Added to the bridge projects, the net cost of the proposed 2019 capital project is $10,838,743.
Many of the public comments focused on the impact of the school projects on regionalization currently under discussion on the state level. Presenters pointed out that these programs could enhance Granby’s position as a regional leader but more importantly, would provide a better learning environment for the town’s students. The effect of declining student population was a concern of some residents. School Superintendent Addley noted the decline is not happening as fast as originally projected.
Concern was voiced over the solar project, particularly with the wetlands on the parcel and the taking of trees. The size of the panel field may fluctuate from the original plan, but savings still make it a revenue source for the town.
Several residents suggested that the referendum be structured so the projects could be voted upon separately.