Minutes from Town Meeting, Aug 4, 2022 at Somers Town Hall auditorium

First Selectman, Tim Keeney, called the meeting to order at 7:10 pm and requested that the Town Clerk read the legal notice.  The following legal notice was read by David Marti, Town Clerk ……

Legal Notice Special Town Meeting
Town of Somers Thursday, August 4, 2022 7:00PM
Town Hall Auditorium

A Special Town Meeting will be held at the Somers Town Hall, 600 Main Street, Somers, CT on Thursday, August 4, 2022 beginning at 7:00 pm.

  1. Elect a Moderator
  2. To vote on an appropriation of $718,235 from the General Fund to fund Architect and Engineering Studies for the Board of Education HVAC and Town Community Center
  3. Adjournment

Dated at Somers, CT this 28th day of July.

Board of Selectmen:
Tim Keeney, First Selectman William Meier, Selectman Robert Schmidt, Selectman

Publication Date: Friday, July 29, 2022

First order of business is to elect a moderator and Town Clerk, David Marti, nominated Tim Keeney to be moderator and seconded by Bill Meier.  Request for any other nomination for moderators, with none given.  Vote taken asking all in favor of first selectman Tim Keeney as moderator, to say Aye.  The vote was unanimous in support of the nomination.

Next order of business is to vote on an appropriation of $718,235 from the General Fund to fund Architect and Engineering Studies for the Board of Education HVAC and Town Community Center
$580,000 for Board of Education and $138,235 for Community Center/Senior Center
We will consider and vote on each individually.  You each have a green card that verifies that you are a voter.  You will vote by raising your card.
Motion to fund the Architect and Engineering Study for the School HVAV made by Gary Schiessl and seconded by Jan Martin.

Floor open for discussion….

  1. David Ballard at 47 George Wood Road
    Do either study include estimates or cost? Stephanie Levin, school Business Manager, explained that a cost estimate will be included.
  2. Steve Krasinski at 55 Wells Road
    Why do more work on a system that is working? Stephanie Levin, School Business Manager, outlined all the work that would be done.  Many areas do not currently have AC.
  3. James Radziewicz at 237 Gulf Road
    Issue on location of new Senior Center? Senior Center not current agenda item so James took his seat.
  4. Susan Peck at 91 Skyridge Drive
    If you know what needs to be done, why not have a three contractors bid on it. Stephanie Levin responded by explaining the need for a design plan that includes everything.
  5. Dorothy Ruggiero at 29 Concord Terrace
    Explained how elementary school without air conditioning is dangerous with temperatures in the gym getting to almost 100 degree. Getting air conditioning into the elementary school as soon as possible is very important
  6. Tara Moody at 15 Franklin Woods Drive
    Parent also shared horror stories about the heat in the school, how unbearable it is when she volunteers. Hers son is asthmatic and the heat is a major problem for him.  The situation needs to be addressed.
  7. Steve Krasinski at 55 Wells Road
    Questioning why this is not being handled by a special committee formed by the Board of Selectmen. Explained that he has been on these special committees in the past and that they are very effective.  Stephanie Leven explained that the Board of Education will form a special building committee to implement.  Tim Keeney responded that some building in town have been done by committee and resulted in problems.  Steve countered First Selectmen’s comments with examples of exemplary results when he was on past building committees.  Mike Marinaccio explained that projects todays are much more complex and that is why the study is required.
  8. Dave Pinney at 214 Pinney Street
    Does the study include follow up oversight? Stephanie Levin and CFO Marinacio answered that the consultants are involved in every step of the process from beginning to end.  Bill Meier spoke up that he questions if there is a less costly alternative.  He agrees it is an important issue to address.  Selectmen Meier explained the implication of paying for these projects out of the general fund and his concerns.  First Selectmen offered follow up that Board of Selectmen approved with the Board of Finance also approving.  CFO Marinacio explained that the cost of the report can be rolled into the bond funding.  He also endorsed the recommendation of Director of Public Works, Todd Roland and the Business Manager of the Schools, Stephanie Levin.
  9. Lisa Horan at 43 Shady Dell Lane
    Appreciates Selectmen Meier’s thriftiness, but feels that being cheap on the front end is short sighted.  CFO Marinacio explained the reasons to act now, ie. Inflation, interest rates, supply chain issues, school season, and that school construction can only happen during certain times of the year
  10. Jim Radziewicz at 237 Gulf Road
    How many venders did you have?  Stephanie Levin explained 4 chosen by group that included a town person (Others, herself, Todd Roland and Jim McFeat)
  1. Matt Killenbeck at 16 Parsons Road
    Works in construction field as an electrician and project manager.  The Engineering project is the way to go.  It is important to have detailed specs that have to be followed.  Appreciates the goal to save money, but it should not be on this phase.  Selectmen Meier then clarified that the issue was rushed to a vote at the BOS meeting and that the School Superintendent and School Business manager were not present.  First Selectmen then added that this process was not initiated in the past two weeks, but rather over 14 months.  Selectmen Schmidt then stated that Stephanie Leven, School Business Manager had spoken at a prior BOS meeting and that he had also spoken to and received a letter from the Superintendent agreeing that the HVAC projected was needed and that he supported moving forward.
  1. Susan Peck at 91 Skyridge Drive
    Asked if there was potential to get state funding to offset some of the HVAC upgrade cost.  Stephanie Levin said that there are funds available and that the school would work to get as much cost offset with state funds as possible.
  1. Sarah Bollinger at 13 Robert Street
    Having been on the BOE over the past 12 years and knowing that the HVAC has been on the 5-year plan, for all of the 12 years.  She is 1000% for the improvements.  Questioning the cost based on past studies.  Stephanie Levin explained everything that is being covered by the study.  Total district project could come in at 8 million, but can be implemented in stages based on priorities.  CFO Marinacio spoke up to clarify that both studies need to take place first before we can move forward.  First selectmen Keeney suggested that discussion needed to wrap up, so we could vote on the motion.  Sarah closed with stating that time lags on procurement being 6 to 9 months out.  The decision need to be made soon to start next summer.
  1. Steve Krasinski at 55 Wells Road
    Questioned why Covid funds, not appropriated for the HVAC at the School. CFO Marinacio responded that we started out looking at Covid funds, but based on the scope of this project we did not want to use all the Covid funds on one project.  This was determined by BOS, Finance Board, Board of Ed and CIP.

31 Yeah with 38 eligible voters. Motion passed unanimously.

First Selectmen Keeney asked for a motion to accept the appropriation to fund the Architect and Engineering Study for the town Community/Senior Center totaling $138,235

Dave Pinney made the motion and seconded by Lisa Horn

  1. James Radziewicz at 237 Gulf Road
    Objected to the proposed site behind town hall. Director of Public Works Todd Roland explained that the site behind town hall at been ruled out and would not be considered.  He then explained the logic, included cost of relocating ball fields, and the fact that portions of the site are in a flood zone.  Todd Roland also elaborated on the need, because of the many deficiencies with our current senior center.  Many options will be looked at.  First Selectmen then reviewed everything included in the study.  The consultant has built 29, like kind, facilities in the state of Connecticut.  Selectmen Meier questioned when was the site behind town hall removed as an option?  Selectmen Meier stated that the site behind town hall was the favorite site.  Feels the whole project has been rushed, came out of nowhere, but does agree there is a need.  First Selectmen Keeney stated that there was no favorite site. First Selectmen Keeney explained that Selectmen Meier had the same concerns at the BOS meeting but the decision was made to move forward with a 2 to 1 vote (Meier voted against) and approved unanimously by the Board of Finance.
  2. Dorothy Ruggiero at 29 Concord Terrace
    With all of this information how can we vote on this tonight? Wanted assurances that the site behind Town Hall will not be reconsidered.  Assurances given by Todd Roland and CFO Marinacio.
  3. Kelly Garrison at 33 Brae Burn Drive
    I agree with Mr. Meier that there is miscommunication. Is there an interest for a community center in town?  Todd Roland responded that we will never know if we do not have something to present to the public.  If not built, the study has value, and will still be available to move on in the future.    Selectmen Keeney added that many towns have built or are building Community Centers and that this is not a new concept.
  4. Sarah Bollinger at 13 Robert Street
    She was on a committee many years ago looking at a community center, so this is not something that was rushed. Questioned if there was information on the website that outlines the project.  Todd Roland stated that the RFP was posted on the towns website.  When the project is presented to the public the location will be specific.
  5. Steve Krasinski at 55 Wells Road
    Questioned if the Kibbe Fuller school had been looked at? Todd Roland said that it has been looked at but would require too many modifications and that building is now being fully utilized. Selectmen Meier again spoke out questioning the expense and suggesting moving forward with a light version that would include a rendering for the citizens to review.  Todd Roland said we would not have cost information, and that the proposed process included input from public.  First Selectmen Keeney and CFO Marinacio both elaborated the study was important so there would be something definitive to present to the public and being done by professional that are experienced.  Selectmen Schmidt spoke up that he spoke with Todd Roland early in the spring about the project, the long history, and that it is not something that was rushed.  He did not feel there was anything secret about the process; some people knew about it and others did not.
  1. Lisa Horan at 43 Shady Dell Lane
    Appreciates Selectman Meire’s concern to save taxpayer dollars, but does not want a rendering to vote on. Wants to have a fully developed project with cost to make a decision. Discussion in background with Todd Roland on the amount of space available behind the current Senior Center.

Selectmen Tim Keeney asked to move on the motion.  All those in favor on the motion on the table to fund the Architect and Engineering Study for the town Community/Senior Center totaling $138,235.

26 Yeahs, and 8 No, the Ayes have it and motion passes.

First Selectmen Keeney thanks the audience for their participation, and valuable discussion.
Meeting adjourned at 8 pm.

Minutes compiled and submitted by David Marti, Town Clerk