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CT Construction Digest Wednesday January 15, 2020

New Canaan Library unveils plans for $30 million new facility
Plans for a new New Canaan Library were unveiled Tuesday night during a meeting of the Board of Finance, attended by members of the Board of Selectmen and Town Council.
The new building, approximately 48,000 square-foot, will sit at the corner of Maple Street and South Avenue, location of the current library.
The Library has been quietly working on a Capital Campaign to raise money for the new facility and to date has garnered over $15 million in private donations. The expectation is that the Town of New Canaan will also contribute to this important civic asset, according to library leadership.
Officials said the design “will reflect New Canaan’s unique mid-century modern architectural heritage. Designed to be a true cultural campus, it will replace the current outdated and failing structure with a large, airy, 21st century library incorporating the newest technology and sustainable design.”
The library has dealt with flooding that has damaged walls on its lower level, needs a roof and is an amalgamation of several designs, according to those raising money for the new building. The proposal follows “more than eight years of careful research and community feedback.”Plans for the new facility, described as a “state-of-the-art building designed to be the center of community learning,” include repurposing the land on which the library currently sits into a new town green, a one-acre public outdoor space ideal for hosting concerts, theater, book groups and other cultural events, providing a new public gathering park right in the heart of downtown.
“The excitement over a new library building has been growing for some time, and we’re delighted to now be able to share our plans with the public,” New Canaan Library Director Lisa Oldham said in a press release. “Our new building design will not only be environmentally-friendly, it will have flexible, light-filled spaces and innovative services that will promote lifelong learning and enhance community life.”“This new building will mark the beginning of a dynamic new chapter in New Canaan Library’s long history,” said Alicia Wyckoff, chairman of the Capital Campaign Committee. “We are thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response we have received so far and appreciate the generosity of so many of our town residents.”
Current plans are for the Library to break ground in spring 2021. The construction schedule, which is expected to last 18 to 24 months, calls for the new structure to be built prior to the demolition of the current building so that the library will operate continuously.Libraries in the nearby towns of Darien, Greenwich and, most recently, Westport have undergone renovation.
“In fact almost every town in Connecticut has invested in its library in the past 40 years,” according to a press release from the New Canaan Library. “This is the first time since 1979 that New Canaan Library has undergone any significant improvement.”
“The limitations of the old library building have been holding us back from delivering the level of service our community expects,” Oldham pointed out. “Our brand new, LEED certified, leading-edge library will meet the needs of our town for generations to come.”Highlights of the new building design include a welcoming public concourse that will include a cafĂ© and an art gallery. Plans also call for a greatly expanded children’s room that will be three times the current size. A large entertainment wing will include a contemporary auditorium space with flexible seating for 300, while a Maker Lab and STEAM learning center will be equipped with the latest cutting-edge components. There will be a new business center and Teen Library created to draw young people with vibrant spaces for both collaborative and independent work and study. The new building will also have many quiet work spaces and enclosed meeting rooms for public use and two large conference rooms will help meet increasingly growing demand. Additionally, a new outdoor terrace will be available every day for public and private use.
“We believe that the new New Canaan Library will be a vibrant landmark that will enhance the community culturally, economically and socially,” said Bob Butman, President of the New Canaan Library Board of Trustees. “Our town deserves a state-of-the-art library and we can’t wait for it to take shape.”

New Killingly power plant faces local opposition ahead of appeal
Stephen Beale
KILLINGLY - The proposed Killing Energy Center is still running into local opposition ahead of a Feb. 18 hearing on an appeal of its approval by the state Siting Council.
Tim Eves, a managing partner of NTE Energy, the company behind the plant, provided a detailed presentation to the Killingly Town Council on Tuesday night in an effort to brief the five newly-elected town council members. But the meeting also gave residents an opportunity to voice their ongoing concerns over the project’s environmental impact.
About 20 residents, including some from other towns like Mystic and Ashford, spoke out against the project, said Jason Anderson, the town council president.
The Killingly Energy Center has already received the approvals it needs from the town’s planning, zoning, and inland wetland commissions. The state Siting Council denied the project once but last June it finally gave the nod to a revised version of the project. Now that decision has been appealed to the Connecticut Superior Court by a local citizens opposition group, Not Another Power Plant.
“Currently the parties are preparing briefs for filing with the court. The court has scheduled a hearing on the appeal for Feb. 18. We would expect a decision in the second quarter of this year,” said Eves, who is the managing partner overseeing the development of the Killingly Energy Center (KEC).
In advance of the appeal hearing, the town council heard a presentation on the project.
The plant, which would be at 180 and 189 Lake Road, would be a 632-megawatt facility fueled by natural gas, with diesel as a backup—enough to power half a million homes. The facility would be supplying energy to Eversource.
Most local concerns are about the environmental impact, Anderson said. A major concern is the pollution from the power plant’s smokestack and how that could be affected by its height. The higher the stack, the less of a local impact. But the flipside is that the smoke is dispersed, Anderson said.
In his presentation, Eves said the 150-foot height of the stack was in keeping with the regulations in the Clean Air Act and “is the height necessary to insure that emissions from the stack do not result in excessive concentrations of any air pollutant in the immediate vicinity of the source as a result of atmospheric downwash, eddies, or wakes.”
Eves said the company would be in compliance with EPA air quality standards. “In order to receive its air permit, KEC must demonstrate to DEEP and EPA that—even with its impacts added to the impacts from other existing sources in the area plus state-monitored background levels—those stringent EPA standards will not be exceeded nor will existing air quality levels that are currently better than the standards be degraded,” Eves said in the presentation.
Another concern is the impact to the local water supply if the plant has to use diesel fuel. Anderson said it could draw as much as half a million gallons of water a day, which could impact the aquifer, causing local wells dry. He said he is considering a plan to put some of the company’s tax payments in a fund in case those residents end up needing to drill new wells.
Anderson, who lives 600 feet from the facility location, is a former member of Not Another Power Plant. But, as a councilor at large, he said he now has to look at the bigger picture. “I definitely understand the environmental concern,” Anderson told the Bulletin on Wednesday. “I have to consider the advantages for the town and not just what is best for the people living adjacent to the facility,” he said.
“I am declining to take a position one way or another,” he added.
According to a tax stabilization agreement with the town, NTE Energy would pay $1 million in three installments over three years of construction. Then, over 20 years of operation, it would pay an average of $5 million a year, according to Anderson. Overall, that amounts to $107 million in tax payments to the town, according to Eves’ presentation. The Williamsville Fire Engine District will also get $8 million.
Eves’ noted that the project will benefit the local economy as well. In its construction phase it will support about 450 union construction jobs. When it’s operational, it will add 20 to 25 long-term six-figure operations jobs. The whole project is backed by a $700 million capital investment from private sources outside of the state.

Tuesday’s special election results don’t tip the balance of power in the Connecticut House

Tuesday’s special legislative elections maintained the partisan status quo in the Connecticut House of Representatives, with each party holding on to seats they currently fill.Republicans kept control of district in Fairfield County while Democrats held a seat in eastern Connecticut that the party has occupied for more than two decades.The balance of power remains the same in the House, with Democrats occupying 91 seats and Republicans filling 59.In the 132nd District, Republican Brian Farnen defeated Democrat Jennifer Leeper. The district is made up of most of the town of Fairfield, including the downtown area and the affluent borough of Southport. It became an open seat when its former occupant, Republican Brenda Kupchick, was elected first selectman.The blue wave of Democratic victories that rolled through some parts of Fairfield County during the 2018 legislative election cycle was not evident in Fairfield on Tuesday.  "Democrats really wanted this Fairfield seat,'' said J.R. Romano, who noted that several top Democrats, including Sen. Chris Murphy and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, came to Fairfield to campaign for Leeper. “We had a great candidate in Brian, who really put the focus on Fairfield and Fairfield issues.”But in the 48th District, Democrat Brian Smith turned back his Republican opponent, Mark DeCaprio. The district, which includes large parts of Colchester and Lebanon as well as smaller slices of Mansfield and Windham, was represented by Democrat Linda Orange for 23 years before her death from pancreatic cancer in late November. “Brian will be a strong voice for the 48th District and carry on the legacy and dedication of Linda Orange,” Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont tweeted shortly after the results were tallied. “Through hard work, his message of advocating on behalf of families and small business won.”Smith pledged to carry on Orange’s legacy. “Linda Orange was one of the most respected, passionate, and effective leaders in the General Assembly,” he said. "I will strive to honor her values to live up to the challenge of filling her seat and be the independent voice that the 48th district needs in Hartford.” The 48th, like much of eastern Connecticut, is more conservative than other parts of Connecticut: Donald Trump won there in 2016, capturing 52% of the vote. (In 2018, Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski beat Lamont with 56% of the vote, even as Orange coasted to victory over DeCaprio.) Special elections can be notoriously unpredictable — and that’s especially true when the truncated campaign season overlaps with the holidays. But some Republicans portrayed the off-cycle contest in eastern Connecticut as a referendum on tolls. Over the weekend, several prominent anti-toll activists came to the district to campaign for DeCaprio. House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said the toll debate will continue to dominate state politics, regardless of Tuesday’s results. “Look, these special elections don’t turn on single issues, but I’ve never seen an issue like tolls,” Klarides said. “The tolls issue is not going away any time soon,” she added. “I’ve never seen an issue that’s so affected people from the ground up. ... If [Democrats] continue to push this, it’s going to have a big [impact] in November.” Next week, voters in Greenwich will also go to the polls in a special election to fill a vacancy created when state Rep. Fred Camillo resigned to become the town’s first selectman.

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