CHESHIRE – Town Councilors held a public hearing last month on a proposal to reallocate $142,000 for bathroom upgrades at various municipal parks.
The public hearing was held prior to the council’s Aug. 13 meeting. Following the hearing, Councilors voted in favor to reappropriate the funds to a pre-existing account dedicated toward the bathroom upgrades.
Finance Director Jim Jaskot said the hearing was required per the Town Charter because the funding amount for the projects exceeds $250,000. The total funding allocated toward the upgrades is $462,000.
Jaskot said that an account with $180,000 was originally created for bathroom work at Quinnipiac and Lock 12 Historical parks. The Public Building Commission later pulled Quinnipiac from the list of parks after receiving bids from various contractors, but the original account was never closed out, according to Jaskot.
Pelletier Construction Management was ultimately hired for $395,000 to complete bathroom renovations at Lock 12, and Cheshire and Mixville Parks, as well as McNamara Legion Field.
Because Quinnipiac was originally listed in the scope of work, the dollars need to be reappropriated into another account in order to be used for work done at McNamara and Cheshire Park, according to Jaskot.
“It takes Quinnipiac out of the picture because they’re going to be doing Quinnipiac separately going forward,” Jaskot explained.
Funding for the Quinnipiac bathrooms is being requested as part of Town Manager Sean Kimball’s five-year capital budget.
Jaskot commented that he believes the Public Building Commission was originally unsure of how extensive the work required for the upgrades would be.
“When the first resolution was approved, maybe they weren’t really sure of the scope back then, that they were going to be doing a lot more than just Quinnipiac and Lock 12,” he said.
Public Works Director George Noewatne said that the Parks and Recreation Department had requested $120,000 and $180,000 for park bathroom upgrades “years ago.”
“Parks and Rec’s priorities may have changed over time with different leadership,” Noewatne said.
Work at the parks is currently underway. The Mixville bathroom site, for example, is under construction in preparation for a new septic system that is slated to be installed. As proposed, the bathrooms will double in size, according to Noewatne.
“They’re expecting to finish all of these by the end of October,” stated Noewatne.