Bonds of about $8 million were approved Wednesday night by the Common Council that calls for a new pool facility in a different area of A.W. Stanley Park, a new bath house, additional playing fields and improvements to both Veteran’s and New Britain Stadiums.
“Each year we get a capitol improvement list. It can be a five year plan,” said Mayor Erin Stewart. “I received over $123 million worth of projects and whittled it down to what I think to be a necessity.”
There has been no new debt in the past two years. Most years between $15-$20 million in debts are approved.
The bond for A.W. Stanley went up from $648,000 to $5.3 million. It will be used for planning, designing, architectural and engineering services, construction, re-construction, site work, materials, equipment, fixtures and more.
“While the pool is the biggest piece, this is for the entire park as a whole. The pool has taken quite a beating because of the use it gets. It is one of two pools in the City. Children have cement stuck in their feet. Their feet are bleeding. Many of the walls and floors have become hollow,” said Stewart. “It was built in the 1960’s. We can only continue to patch it for another year. In two years we will not have one. The pool at Willow Brook is not big enough for our events. We get 30,000 visits a year at A.W. Stanley.”
A master plan is to be conducted for the entire park. It includes the nature trail, parking lot, picnic area, the basketball courts and the baseball field. It will configure such things as how to get to “Go Ape” and what is the best way to access the ball park.
“We’ve put in a significant amount of money in the past few years to patch and repair the pool. To get it to open each year has been a battle,” said Erik Barbieri, parks and recreation director. “When we looked at the park in its entirety we saw other issues that need to be addressed.”
Where the pool is located now will become a ball field. The new pool will be located in the Northern end of the park. The pool will not close and the new construction is hoped to begin in September.
“The park master plan will address a lot of issues,” said Stewart.
About $875,000 of funds will go to making American Disability Act improvements at Hungerford, Chesley, NBHS tennis courts, Willow Brook Park Soccer Fields, and Veteran’s Stadium.
“Ware making all our ball fields and parks more accessible for people with disabilities,” said Stewart. “There is no funding so it is very costly.”
There will be many improvements to ramps at Veteran’s Stadium.
At the public works yard, it is raining inside of the building. Money will be used for a new roof.
Another project involves the Blogoslawki Parking Garage. There are cracks that need to be addressed or they will just expand. Also, the elevators at all the parking garages will be repaired as many do not work.
There is also money being bonded to upgrade New Britain Stadium as the New Britain Rock Cats vandalized the park when they left. There is more than $30,000 worth of damage. Already the stadium has been painted, the field has been fixed and chairs have been repaired, but now light fixtures etc. have to be repaired as well.
“They need this to be done before opening day,” said Mayor Stewart. “We will also keep some funds aside for routine maintenance throughout the season.”
About $1 million will be used for the installation of audio/visual system in council chambers, public wifi, fixed surveillance cameras downtown and Walnut Hill Park, and upgrades to employee time clocks.
“The cameras around city and downtown are for our own safety,” Stewart added.
“I’m excited about those improvements especially the cameras. Anyone who thinks it’s okay to come to downtown and commit crimes, think again. It is not going to happen in New Britain. We will find you,” said Ald. Carlo Carlozzi. “I think it is very important for those who want to go downtown. They will have a better sense of security.”
About $400,000 will be used for refurbishing of two ambulances and improvements to EMS facility at 225 Arch St.
$1.283 million was approved for improvements to the city water treatment facility including improvements to the White Bridge raw water supply pond station, the electrical and mechanical and SCADA systems, redevelopment of the Lower White Bridge Field Well and water improvement on Batterson Park Road.
“This is all routine stuff. It is all engineering related. No big structural changes are happening here,” said Stewart. “Although we have not issued new bonds in the past two years and were focused on reallocating money, it is our responsibility to upkeep these things so they do not cost us three and four times more in the future. These are projects that we absolutely need.”
“These things have to be done. They are not a wish list,” said Carlozzi. “I don’t like saying ‘yes’ to bonding but these are all things we really need.”