WALLINGFORD — The Town Council agreed to move forward with a plan to demolish three dilapidated town-owned buildings and renovate part of the Spanish Community of Wallingford facility.
Slated to come down are the Civil Defense building and former Choate Rosemary Hall boathouse, both on Washington Street, and the old Wooding Construction Co. building behind the police station on North Main Street.
“The more of these satellite buildings we have, the more expensive they are to maintain,” Public Works Director Henry McCully said during Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.
The total cost estimate is $556,167 — a combined $180,470 for the demolition of all three buildings and $375,697 for renovations to SCOW.
The total amount appropriated was $528,217. The public works budget has $27,950 — marked for architecture, environmental studies and remediation work — that can also be used.
About half of the funds, $253,791, came from insurance collected for storm damage to the Civil Defense building, which is on the same parcel as SCOW.
McCully said the department will oversee the contractors completing the projects.
The Civil Defense building’s roof was compromised, and came off in some places, during a snowstorm with high winds last winter.
“It’s in dreadful shape,” McCully said, adding that it’s “full of asbestos.”
Some members of the council said the boathouse could have been restored and perhaps used as a nature center, but Mayor William W. Dickinson said there’s only space for about three vehicles to park on the property.
“Any use of that property for general governmental purpose would be severely constrained with the lack of parking,” Dickinson said.
McCully added that vandals stole the copper pipes out of the building.
The Wooding building demolition would create about 12 additional parking spaces for the police department.
Construction of a new, 3,600-square-foot storage building was completed a last week. It will allow for consolidation of police equipment, Police Chief William Wright said.
The police department is in the process of moving traffic control signs and equipment out of the rear portion of SCOW.
SCOW plans to create a multi-purpose space in the area vacated by the police to expand the STEM Academy, sponsored by the Youth and Social Services department, and host SCOW programs when space is needed, said Adriana Rodriguez, SCOW interim director.
Craig Turner, Youth and Social Services director, said the STEM Academy originally met in the Civil Defense building. The academy focuses on programs involving science, technology, engineering and math.
“Programming has grown in size and scope,” Turner said, “which really pushed the need to have a permanent, or defined, space” for a meetings and storage.
Several council members addressed the lost opportunity to restore and use the properties.
John Walworth, a retired professional engineer, said that there should be a report created for council review on all town-owned buildings and their intended uses.
“We need to be better stewards of our buildings and grounds,” he said.
McCully said he plans to begin “immediately” on the projects.