Ledyard to discuss police station, middle school projects

Ledyard - The town council will hear presentations Wednesday on a proposed new police station and the renovation of the middle school, two projects slated to be voted on at the May budget referendum.

The Municipal Building Committee, which has been discussing plans for a new police station since last fall, is considering two spots - the former site of the Ledyard Fire Department between Town Hall and the Starwood Village Market, and a site near the transfer station on J. Alfred Clark Way.

The committee is also looking at getting a cost estimate for renovating the former Gales Ferry School, but Mayor John Rodolico said this spot is an unlikely choice.

The police station on Lorenz Industrial Parkway has components that date back to 1894. The aging building is too small, Rodolico said, with no real lobby for public access, and failing heating and air conditioning systems that are costly to maintain.

Both plans, prepared by Jacunski Humes, LLC of Berlin, call for a 12,000-square-foot building with about 35 parking spaces.

Municipal Building Committee Chairman Pete McIntyre said while the former fire department site is ideal because of its central location, it would be complex and costly to work around the existing infrastructure and deal with installing a septic system and adequate drainage. McIntyre said a cost estimate for the site plans should be available in two weeks.

The second presentation will be on the proposed Ledyard Middle School renovation, which Superintendent Mike Graner said has been in the works for about two years. The middle school building dates back to the 1970s.

The renovation plan would add a wing to the building for the school district's sixth-graders, who are a part of the three elementary schools now. It would also build traditional walled classrooms in place of the open cluster design, add an outdoor courtyard, upgrade the school's security system, update plumbing and electrical systems, install an emergency generator and construct a food-service kitchen. The latter two items would allow the school to be designated as an emergency shelter.

Graner said a cost estimate from the plan's architect, C.J. Lawler Associates in West Hartford, should be available in the next couple of weeks. The Board of Education will review this at its March 6 meeting and Graner will make his presentation to the town council on March 13.

If the renovation proposal passes at referendum in May, the sixth-graders would be moved to the Juliet W. Long School adjacent to the middle school in the fall of 2014 to begin the consolidation of the class with the middle school, and the renovation should be completed no later than 2017.

McIntyre said he thinks the middle school project is a "shoo-in," particularly in terms of the promised security upgrades that parents have voiced as a priority since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December.

"I can't see anybody turning that project down, whatever the cost," he said.

a.isaacs@theday.com

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