The fate of dozens of long-range projects in Cheshire will be decided tonight at a Special Town Council meeting at 7:30 p.m.
The capital budget-spending request of about $39 million includes projects, which if approved by the council, must then be approved by voters at a referendum in November. They are:
- Technology reserve fund - $750,000
- Road repavement program - $1.5 million
- Waste water treatment plant upgrade - $32.1 million
- Linear trail expansion - $2.3 million
Superintendent of Schools Greg Florio spoke to the council at last week’s public hearing to encourage the council to support Town Manager Michael Milone’s proposed budget. “There is an 800 pound gorilla in this room. It’s a very, very old, tired and aging infrastructure,” he said.
Cheshire High School Girls Track Coach Barbara Hedden told the council she supports the proposed Cheshire High School athletic complex. After the hearing she said there are just as many female as male athletes at the school and their locker room is even smaller. “With a new facility, we would then have the same space,” Hedden said. She noted the girls teams use the old football locker room built in the 1960s and it’s just too small. “A lot (of female athletes) change in the classroom and keep stuff in the classroom. It needs repairs. Coaches have come in and painted it themselves,” Hedden said.
Cheshire School Board President Gerald Brittingham said a bandaid approach is just not enough for the boys locker room. "We should do exactly what the taxpayers expect of us. To spend tax dollars wisely. Allow the voters to address the issue at referendum," he said.
Ed Hill, who is a member of the Public Building Commission, but spoke as a private citizen, also urged the council to support the athletic complex proposal. “I’m appalled at the conditions our kids have had to endure. In the concession stand building, “the toilet explodes, the restrooms are inadequate.” Hill said Cheshire should be embarrassed at how awful the facilities are particularly when compared to area schools.
“The elephant in the room,” is the treatment plant, said Town Manager Michael Milone. He explained the town would receive a $7 million grant and a two percent loan from the state to pay the $24.3 million cost to the town.
Milone also said the town is pursuing legal options to force the state Department of Corrections to pay a portion of the upgrade cost. “Twenty-five percent of the effluent that goes to the plant comes from (the prison). The (state) should pay that portion of the cost,” he said.
Editor's note: Some of the amounts listed in an earlier version of this article were updated based on budget committee decisions. The full council will vote on the capital budget tonight.