Darien First Selectman David Campbell: It's time to get moving on capital projects
First Selectman David Campbell said Monday night that he wants to begin moving ahead on two key capital projects in the upcoming months.
"The ones that are ready to go are the priorities," said the Republican. "They've been held off for a long time now. If we wait too long we're going to have to go back before the RTM to get re-approved for the bonds."
The two projects that were labeled "ready to go" at the meeting are the police department renovation and the Weed Beach Improvement Plan. According to the 2010-2016 Capital Expenditures Plan, the Town currently anticipates appropriating $15 million for the expansion and renovation of police headquarters in the 2011-2012 fiscal year; $2 million is also set to be appropriated that year for Weed Beach.
According to Campbell, the total cost of the Weed Beach project is around the $3.5 million mark, but $1.5 million will come from the Town's general fund, leaving $2 million to be funded through bonding.
"The police department has finished plans. They went out to bid, the bidding was completed and the bidding was set to be awarded when everything was stopped," Campbell said. "They have gone back ... to take a look at what the costs are today, and they're approximately 15 percent less than they were a year to 15 months ago."
As for the Weed Beach project, Campbell said the project was "not quite as far along."
"They had some basic plans done at the time when their project was stopped, and they're not nearly as ready as the police station to move forward, but they are not that far away either," Campbell said.
"We're really shovel ready," she said. "We're ready to go out to bid as soon as we get the go ahead."
"I think there's a point here in the next six months that we should be going ahead," Campbell said.
"With the building costs, you're never going to see them lower, unless we go into a total depression," he said.
It is possible to move ahead with the beach improvements and police renovation, while still moving forward on a new community-and-senior center without incurring too much long-term debt since the town is paying down about $6 million or $7 million in debt per year, Campbell said.
"The peak debt level that the town ever reached was $98 million. Our view is that we should not meet that level again. So whatever we do, we should be striving to keep it at no more than $98 million," BOF chairman Murry Stegelmann told the Board.
"The 2011 fiscal year is still stressful, and we don't want to start things up and add to the problem. Starting something during the year with bonding, which wouldn't have payments until the 2012 year, we could find acceptable," he said.