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Council to Survey Residents on Big-Ticket Items

Town Council is mulling a November referendum concerning a number of big-ticket capital improvements projects.

The South Windsor Town Council on Monday continued its discussion of a possible November capital improvements projects referendum by forming a bipartisan subcommittee that will prepare questions to survey residents as to what projects they deem most necessary.

The survey, proposed by Councilor Cary Prague, essentially will take the temperature of 1,500 residents concerning the approximately $12 million capital improvements projects that were brought before the council earlier this month.

Those projects include, among other things, the following:

  • $2 million for IT upgrades for the town;
  • $1.7 million in town buildings upgrades;
  • $3.3 million in school buildings upgrades, including roof replacements at the high school and Pleasant Valley School;
  • $3 million in road re-paving and repairs;
  • $650,000 to re-pave the high school parking lot; and
  • $1.35 million for IT upgrades in the schools.

Prague said that the survey would give the council a better idea of what projects the public would support when it comes time to vote in November.

“A survey should be conducted in order to give the Town Council some insight as to the feeling today of the voters as to various proposed referendum items,” Prague said. “The survey will provide valuable feedback without having to waste resources in preparing a referendum and increase the likelihood of passage through awareness not allowed through marketing of a referendum and the spending of public funds after the passage of a resolution authorizing the referendum.”

Most of the councilors supported the survey, though some were more enthusiastic about it than others.

Councilor Keith Yagaloff said that he supported a scaled-back survey that asks voters how they prioritize perhaps four or five projects, not a slew of them, in hopes of communicating to the public that the Town Council was not going on “a spending spree.”

At one point, the conversation turned to the proposed $3 million athletics fields improvement project, which Councilor Saud Anwar said should be broken out and put to voters separately and not “piggybacked” on a referendum question that includes something “critical” like road repairs.

“If the fields are critical, let them stand on their own,” he said.

Others said that, while they were not prepared to discuss specific projects at that time and also questioned the value of a survey, they would still back one going to voters.

“If we want to send a survey out, I’ll support it, but I don’t know what it will accomplish,” Councilor Edward Havens said.

Councilor Cindy Beaulieu said that she thought the survey was fine, provided that it was completed in a timely manner.

“I like the idea of a survey; it makes sense,” she said, provided that the council moves “quickly” and she learns more of the scope.”

Beaulieu also said that, while it wasn’t time to discuss specific projects, the athletics fields situation still needed to be addressed.

In the end, Mayor Tom Delnicki, Deputy Mayor Gary Bazzano, Anwar and Havens were all appointed to the subcommittee, which will report back to the Town Council with its questions for the survey at the next regular meeting on July 30.

In other business, the Town Council unanimously approved sending an amended demolition delay ordinance to a public hearing scheduled for Sept. 4.

During public comment, six residents all spoke in favor of the athletics fields capital improvements, which include installation of synthetic turf at the South Windsor High School stadium; construction of one new synthetic field, two new natural-turf fields and a 188-space parking lot on 11 acres of land at Nevers Park; the 90 degree realignment of the Ayers Road softball field; and the installation of lights at a baseball field at Nevers Park.

Dana Weber of the town’s girls lacrosse association and Bob Goldman of the South Windsor Soccer League spoke of how their respective sports compete with one another for fields.

The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for July 30.

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