Council selects design firm for historic train station, rejects Democratic ZBA nominee



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WALLINGFORD — The Town Council has selected a design firm to create plans to potentially renovate the historic train station.

“The whole concept is to take the historic railroad station and evaluate the building envelope. This project does include the green, the sidewalks that go alongside the green, all the way out to the gazebo,” said Economic Development Specialist Tim Ryan.

Hamden-based Silver Petrucelli and Associates has been selected to evaluate the more than 150-year-old building and how it could be re-utilized for different uses.Coming in at just over half of the next lowest bid, S/P+A submitted a bid to complete the first two phases of the project for $61,800.

The project would evaluate what possible uses there could be for the 13,480-square-foot building and what work would be needed to get it there. It is currently home to Wallingford Adult Education and New Haven Society of Model Engineers, which occupies the basement. Ryan said the town has been in regular communication with School Superintendent Danielle Bellizzi and the director of the adult education program.

“Part of what the responsibility of Silver Petrucelli will be is to make sure that they educate us as to what market opportunities there are for the building once they’re extremely familiar with every nook and cranny of that building,” Ryan said. “ … What we want to be able to bring back to the council is here are the possibilities for the train station and then you will collectively decide.”

The bids were scored by both their cost and technical score, with S/P+A scoring an 87.7 out of 100 on the composite score. The next lowest firm, Maier Design Group LLC, submitted a bid with a cost of  $147,300 and had a composite score of 85.9. A total of six bids were received by the town, three of which were rejected for not having the expertise with historical buildings, Public Works Director Robert Baltramaitis said.

The train station, built in 1871, is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the state Register of Historic Places, which limits what changes could be made to the building and could impact bringing the station up to modern fire, safety and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance codes.

Council rejects Democratic nominee

The Town Council voted against the appointment of Ed Storck as an alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals in a 6-3 vote, marking the second time this year that the council has voted not to seat a nominee chosen by the Democratic Town Committee for an appointed position. On Jan. 18, the council voted against the appointment of Alexa Tomassi to the Town Council to fill a vacancy left by resigning councilor Gina Morgenstein. The six Republican councilors voted for Jason Zandri to take the position.

Zandri said he was opposed to Storck’s appointment based on what he characterized as harassment he faced from Storck as an administrator of social media groups. Zandri joined five Republicans in voting against the appointment, with the two other Democrats and Republican Joseph Marrone III voting in Storck’s favor.

“I don't want anybody having to go to ZBA and have to deal with someone that I believe can't be objective and can't make an unbiased decision. That's why I'm going to vote no,” Zandri said.

Storck told the council that while he had disagreements with social media group administrators, he strives to keep his online behavior appropriate. He noted that in many cases, ZBA and other representatives of the town government made inflammatory comments online and were not punished.

“I've never in any group I've been in been hurtful, inappropriate, in many ways even keeled,” he said.

Councilor Vincent Testa said the council has a tradition of appointing the candidates selected by the relevant party committee for such vacancies.

“To not respect or honor or agree with or approve those recommendations or requests from ourselves to one another, to not honor those requests, I think one needs to have a really strong, legitimate reason,” he said.  “ … We should not be basing decisions on how people express themselves, the words they chose to express themselves with, unless they rise to the level of threat and danger.”

Reporter Devin Leith-Yessian can be reached at dleithyessian@record-journal.com.



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