Council discusses fire trucks, phosphorous project

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The town council met on Monday, June 4, and the councilors set a date for a referendum regarding the replacement of two fire trucks.

The referendum, regarding a $2.1 million appropriation through bonds and notes, will take place on Tuesday, June 19th from 6am to 8pm, at the firehouse, 77 W. Main Street.

“The normal useful life of a fire truck is 20 to 25 years. These two trucks are the oldest in the fleet, with Engine 1 approaching 30 years of age and the aerial ladder truck approaching 25 years. Additionally, the manufacturer of Engine 1 has gone out of business and, as a result, replacement parts are nearly impossible to obtain. Although all the equipment goes through an annual certification process, meeting the criteria for this truck is becoming increasingly difficult,” read a letter to the editor to the Observer that was submitted by the council. “The Town Council has unanimously determined that bonding is the most appropriate method of financing the replacement of this equipment… The bonding of these two vehicles will have minimal impact to the Town’s long term debt schedule.”

During the report of the Town Manager, Robert Lee discussed the water pollution control phosphorus removal project, the high school parking lot project, and a discussion regarding insurance.

“On May 17, bids were received for the water pollution control phosphorus removal upgrade project,” said Lee. “The low bid was submitted by Daniel O’Connell’s Sons of Holyoke, Massachusetts, in the amount of $11,164,000. This is approximately $330,000 less than the engineers estimate for the project.”

Lee said consultants had reviewed the bids and met with the capital projects building committee, and they recommended taking the O’Connell’s Sons bid. The council approved this bid unanimously.

“The Town Council conducted a work session on May 7 to discuss potential options for liability, auto and property insurances for the town,” said Lee. “Town staff were directed to gather some additional information to be brought back to the Town Council.”

Finance director, Rob Buden, revealed that a possible combined savings of $200,000 could be achieved if LAP insurance and workers compensation insurance were bundled through Trident Insurance Agency. The council approved this unanimously.

The high school parking lot project also went out to bid, and two bids were received. But, those bids and the cost of the project do not align.

“Two bids were received and the low bid was submitted by B&W Paving pavement and landscaping in Waterford, Connecticut, in the amount of $1,625,000,” said Lee. “There were also eight alternates which totaled $345,500. The low bid currently exceeds the amount allocated for the project. O&G, the construction manager for the project, has met with the two bidders to determine what changes can be made to bring the cost of the project inline with the current budget. As a result of these discussions, O&G is recommending some changes be made to the specifications and then to rebid the project.”

Lee said they “hope to have the bids back by the end of the month” because “this is a project that needs to be done during the summer.”

“Due to the amount of the bids and the amount budgeted, and talking to the contractors, they felt there were some changes that could be made that could bring the bid down to where we needed to be,” said Lee. “The plan now is to make the changes after those discussions… so those changes are going to be made and hopefully there will be more competition, and we’ll be able to bring the price down.”

There may be a special meeting of the Town Council to approve a new bid, but as of this meeting that had yet to be decided.