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CT Construction Digest Wednesday December 11, 2019

Site plans chosen for Wilton police station
Jeannette Ross
WILTON — Two site plans have been selected for an upgraded headquarters for the Wilton Police Department. At its meeting on Dec. 5, the building committee in charge of the project selected a plan for a newly constructed building as well as a plan for a renovated building with an addition.
Four possible site plans were presented by Tecton Architects, the firm selected by the committee to guide the project through the design phase. The firm will now refine those plans along with providing cost estimates by Jan. 8, which the committee will then take to the Board of Selectmen.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, who attended the meeting, asked if information could be presented at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Dec. 16 to familiarize the selectmen with the project and discuss costs in general terms.
Committee members had been planning to meet with the board in January, but moved up their next meeting to Dec. 12 in order to visit with the board next week. However, Rebecca Hopkins from Tecton said concrete numbers will not be available until a cost estimator reviews the project and that won’t occur before Dec. 16.
“The earlier you can get to the Board of Selectmen, the earlier they can react,” Vanderslice said, adding the board has a sense of what the community will support in terms of cost.
In addition to the police station, the building committee is also exploring: Making repairs to town hall.Fitting out unfinished areas in the Comstock Community Center to accommodate offices that could be moved out of town hall.
Demolishing the town hall annex and relocating the kennels for animal control.
Preliminary numbers handed out at the meeting indicated a range of $17 million to $18 million to accomplish all the tasks.
Four plans
Tecton came up with its four plans after meeting with a working group of the committee, which included representatives from the police department.
Committee member Kathy Poirier asked Tecton representatives if any of the plans were more expensive and she was told the costs for site work were comparable.
After lengthy discussion at the Dec. 5 meeting, the committee voted to approve the two plans favored by police.
The first option, which is for new construction, would place a two-story building to the north of where it is now, aligning it with the entrance drive and making it visible from Route 7. The preliminary design is about 20,000 square feet, but that could be reduced by 10 percent, according to Hopkins.
The second option would add a second story to the present police station, expanding it to about 22,000 square feet. Critical operations, such as dispatch, could remain in place while construction takes place.
The materials handed out to the committee included early floor plans and both options included dispatch, four cells, records room, evidence room, booking area, computer forensics, interview rooms, a lab, male and female locker rooms, a fitness area, multiple offices, a conference room, briefing room, training area, and numerous offices. Both would be ADA accessible.
Both also include a multi-purpose room that can be used by police for training and for public meetings of town commissions such as Planning and Zoning, which now meets in Room A in the annex. This room came under some discussion at the meeting. As designed, it could accommodate 40 people classroom-style and 80 to 100 otherwise. There was some concern this would not be large enough for Planning and Zoning public hearings, particularly if an application with great public interest was scheduled.
The room could be accessed from within as well as from outside the police station, with ample parking.
Owner’s rep
Facilities director Chris Burney told the committee it had reached the $40,000 limit of its contract with Colliers. Colliers signed the $40,000 contract with the town to provide owner’s project manager services. The number of the firm’s billable hours of work recently exceeded $40,000; however, Colliers is not going to charge the town for anything above the contracted amount.
Colliers was hired to provide consulting services for the police station only, but at the meeting Vanderslice gave the go-ahead for the company to be hired to consult on all pieces of the project.
The Police-Town Hall Building Committee also voted on its meetings in 2020, agreeing to meet the second Wednesday of each month and schedule special meetings as needed.
Information on the project is available at wpdtownhallproject

Lamont: Tolls will have to wait until new year
Christine Stuart
HARTFORD — It’s taken some time, but Gov. Ned Lamont admitted Tuesday that he may have to wait on his truck-only transportation plan until January.
Following a meeting with legislative leaders, Lamont told reporters that voting on a transportation plan and a bond package in December might not give lawmakers enough time.
“There’s enough votes, but there might not be enough time,” Lamont told reporters Tuesday.
Lamont met with Democratic legislative leaders on Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday following an unrelated event at the state Capitol, Lamont said there will be a public hearing on the truck-only toll proposal “whether it’s now or in January, ask the leadership.”Lamont said legislative leaders told him Monday that “from a process point of view it might be easier if we put this off until first thing next year.”
Lamont said Democratic legislative leaders support the truck-only toll proposal but doing that the week of Dec. 16 “may be a rush.”
Lamont said there have been hearings on transportation going back a decade and he’s anxious to get it done “six months ago.”

Longshoremen to be laid off ahead of State Pier project in New London
Julia Bergman           
New London — The longshoremen who handle cargo at State Pier will be laid off at the end of March right before the reconstruction of the pier is expected to start, Jim Dillman, the president of Gateway, which manages pier operations, confirmed this week.
No ships will be coming in to New London’s deepwater port during the $93 million redevelopment project to ready the pier for use by the offshore wind industry. Some of the details of the project were unveiled at a public hearing in September but it is still being negotiated by Gateway, the Connecticut Port Authority and ├śrsted-Eversource, which will supply 300 megawatts of offshore wind power to Connecticut from their Revolution Wind Farm in federal waters south of Martha’s Vineyard.
That means no work for the 45 longshoremen, the majority of them part-time employees, at State Pier.
Dillman said Gateway is in discussions with the local carpenters union to provide employment to the longshoremen during the two years the pier is expected to be under construction, “so there is no interruption of income during that period of time.”
Asked whether the longshoremen in New London could work out of New Haven’s port, which Gateway also manages, Dillman said there’s already “a full complement” of workers there.
Peter Olsen, the longtime president of the International Longshoremen’s Association 1411, said he’s also talked with the carpenter’s union about using longshoremen during construction. He said he worked with ILA at the national level to get an agreement in place to allow the New London labor force to work in Bridgeport, where a redevelopment to support offshore wind industry also is being proposed.
The status of the longshoremen in New London came up during a wide ranging, seven-plus hour hearing on the port authority held last week by the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee with both State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and State Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton, expressing concern over reports that the pier workers will be laid off.
Olsen said the longshoremen have taken “a financial hit” since the beginning of the year as Logistec, which operated at State Pier for about two decades, began winding down its operations and Gateway took over. The longshoremen are paid hourly. They get $25.75 per hour for unloading cargo when a ship is in port and $23 for day-to-day work such as loading cargo onto trucks, Olsen said.
Since Gateway took over May 1, six vessels have come into New London’s port. Two vessels, one carrying salt, the other carrying copper, are scheduled to come into the port next week. Gateway has said with the pending construction project, it has not aggressively marketed the port, given the expectation that it will be closed to ship traffic for two years.
Gateway and the longshoremen have a temporary labor agreement in place that lasts until the end of the year, and there are discussions about keeping that in place until the end of March, Olsen said.
“We’re working under the premise that construction will start April 1,” Dillman said.
Once construction is complete, and the port is “reactivated,” Gateway has “committed to utilize union labor at New London waterfront,” he said.
With Connecticut, like other states up and down the Eastern Seaboard, committing to buy more offshore wind power, both New London and Bridgeport have been envisioned as hubs for the burgeoning industry. Last week, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced that it selected New Bedford, Mass.-based Vineyard Wind to supply 804 megawatts of offshore wind power to Connecticut.
Vineyard Wind’s proposal to the state focused on redeveloping Bridgeport Harbor. ├śrsted-Eversource also submitted a proposal to the state, which was seeking up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power, but it was not chosen.

Vote on trucks-only tolls pushed to January; special session on other issues Dec. 18

A vote on trucks-only highway tolls has been pushed off until January as legislators and lawyers craft the final details of the bill and plan for a public hearing.Gov. Ned Lamont and the top four Democratic leaders at the state Capitol pledged Tuesday to pass a comprehensive transportation plan and the annual bond package of construction projects early next month. That includes rejecting a Republican plan to use $1.5 billion of the state’s $2.5 billion rainy day fund in order to help pay for the improvements in roads, bridges, railroads and airports."We are committed to investing in transportation without recklessly raiding the rainy day fund, which will only lead to increased taxes and drastic cuts to education, municipal aid, and other vital state programs and services in the future,'' the leaders said. "Through the Democratic transportation plan, we will not only strengthen our economy but shorten daily commutes and protect the financial future of the state. We also want to provide clarity to Connecticut’s cities and towns that rely on municipal aid and funds contained within the bonding bill. Once the bill is passed, we are committed to scheduling an immediate meeting of the Bond Commission to allocate bonding to cities and towns.”Some legislators and opponents have blasted Lamont for his plans, which have included both cars and trucks and now includes only trucks. The opponents say the legislature should not vote until there is a public hearing on the latest proposal, which would charge tolls on trucks only at 12 spots on six different highways around the state.Lawmakers have been debating tolls for the entire year without reaching agreement. A previous plan called for tolls on the Merritt Parkway in Norwalk and on Route 9 in Middletown, but those locations have since been dropped. Lamont’s transportation plan, known as CT2030, calls for spending $19.4 billion over 10 years to improve the state’s aging infrastructure."Haven’t there been hearings on transportation going back a decade?'' Lamont asked reporters. “We’ve had hearings, certainly, on our last plan. We’ve had discussions on 2030. Now, we’ll have a hearing as regards our new plan — trucks only — and how we get this state moving again.”House Majority Leader Matt Ritter of Hartford said January is a better time for the tolls debate because lawmakers will be able to have a public hearing and attendance for legislators will be higher than during the week before Christmas when some lawmakers are out of town.“I would love to wrap it up before we go into the regular session” in early February, Ritter said of tolls. “That’s the speaker’s goal. That’s my goal.”Separately, lawmakers announced Tuesday they will be meeting in special session on Dec. 18 to resolve disputes regarding restaurants and hospitals.A yearslong clash between the hospitals and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy spilled over into the Lamont era, where officials said they wanted to lower the temperature and start a new day of cooperation between the state and the hospitals that employ thousands of workers. Lawmakers have already agreed to set aside more than $160 million from the last fiscal year’s operating surplus in order to settle a civil lawsuit, and the final agreement now calls for an additional $20 million.The seven-year deal runs from the current fiscal year through the 2026 fiscal year — providing Medicaid rate increases of 2% for inpatient services in hospitals and 2.2% for outpatient services. The total cost to the state over the seven years is estimated at $872 million.The tangled battle involves hundreds of administrative legal claims by more than 25 hospitals regarding Medicaid rates that were filed on a quarterly basis with the state Department of Social Services, as well as tax appeals that were filed with the state Department of Revenue Services to preserve their legal rights, officials said.In a highly complicated arrangement, the state receives federal reimbursements based on the hospital tax, and the hospitals later receive some of that money back from the state. The tax was implemented in 2011 and in its early years proved to be a financial benefit to the hospitals. But as Connecticut struggled with persistent budget deficits in the following years, the tax increased, and the payments back to the industry decreased even as federal reimbursement rates rose.Ritter said that settling the hospital lawsuit is important because the outcome would be unknown at a trial. The state’s liability has been estimated as high as $4 billion.“The problem is the exposure on the back end if you lose the lawsuit,” he said Tuesday. “It’s risky for the state of Connecticut. ... It’s hard to predict what a judge may say. If we ever lost it, the exposure would be billions of dollars.”The restaurant issue pits servers against restaurant owners in an ongoing battle over wagesThe complicated measure deals with the amount of money that should be paid to restaurant workers who have multiple job responsibilities and say they should be paid a higher hourly rate for work where they don’t receive tips. Some of those workers claim they have been underpaid for years and have filed lawsuits against their employers. For example, waiters work part of their shifts serving customers and generating tips. But those same workers also spend part of their shifts filling ketchup bottles and salt shakers in work that does not generate tips.Lamont vetoed a bill that was designed to resolve the issue, but lawmakers backed off in mid-July after pledging to override the veto. Instead, they agreed to negotiate a resolution on the contentious bill, and that process has continued for months.

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