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First Selectman Messages

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3/21/2016 - 03/21/2016

The First Selectman’s Corner


Dear Canton Residents,

               I want to update you on the discussions and outcome of the last Board of Selectmen meeting, with regard to the town highway garage.  As we all know, the garage has been a controversial, challenging topic for this community over the last decade.  After a defeated referendum to purchase land at 5 Cherry Brook Road, and two defeated referendums to build on Commerce Drive, the former Board of Selectmen needed to reevaluate what, if any, improvements could be made at the current garage site at 50 Old River Road.  They retained the engineering firm Fuss and O’Neil, who determined that, due to changes in the interpretation of flood plain regulations, a 15,000 square foot facility could be constructed there, with on-site remediation within the flood plain.  Our Department of Public Works is confident that this size facility would provide appropriate indoor storage for all vehicles, and reasonable work and rest space for employees.  In addition, the facility could be sited closer to River Road, freeing up land for river access, a launch for non-motorized boats, public restrooms, and recreation area.  The property would be accessed directly from River Road, thus eliminating the passage of highway trucks along the bike path.  The cost of this project, as estimated by our Town Project Administrator, is $3.8 million, which includes both the garage and recreation improvements to the riverfront. 

               The current Board of Selectmen heard a presentation on this proposal earlier in the year (see presentation here), and responded positively to the concept.  The BOS asked Bob Martin, Director of Public Works, and George Wallace, Town Project Administrator, to informally present the plan to the Inland Wetlands Agency and the Planning and Zoning Commission.  In addition, they also presented to the Conservation Commission and the Permanent Municipal Building Committee.  The initial responses from Inland Wetlands and Planning and Zoning were generally positive, particularly to the idea of a mixed use facility.  PMBC and Conservation expressed reservations about the project’s proximity to the river, and whether building on the current site is contrary to the Plan of Conservation and Development.  PMBC also questioned the smaller size of the facility.  This week, the project will be presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission, to seek their input on the highest and best uses of the property for recreation.  At their last meeting, the BOS sent the project to PMBC for comments, and possible recommendation of any other sites to be considered.  The BOS also approved the expenditure of up to $4700 from available grant funds to obtain a formal cost estimate for the project. 

               At the Board’s May 11th meeting PMBC’s comments and the formal cost estimate will be reviewed. The Board will also discuss the best approach for obtaining public input.  The BOS is considering bringing proposal to referendum at the November election, which would require Board of Finance approval.  The proposal would consist of a proposed location, “not to exceed” price, and authorization to bond.  One positive aspect of a November referendum is the expected large voter turnout for the Presidential election, which would give a clearer picture of public opinion.  The Town could then take the time in 2017 to retain an architect, prepare final design and bid documents, obtain the necessary land use permits, and proceed with bonding when the project was ready to go forward.  Under this process, the Town would avoid expending large sums of money and taking many months to plan out all the project details, not knowing if the voters were in favor of the location and price tag.   

 The BOS will be providing opportunities for you to learn more about the project, and to give your thoughtful feedback.  Current information will be available on the town website, and I encourage you to check back frequently for updates.

Best Regards,
Leslee B. Hill 




Kevin Witkos
First Selectman
Phone: (860) 693-7847

Office Hours:
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Canton Town Hall
P.O. Box 168
4 Market Street
Collinsville, CT 06022