Stonington sees savings in building its own school bus depot

Stonington - The building on Extrusion Drive that the school system leases for $50,000 a year for its school bus depot is condemned by the town.

So the school board is asking for $120,000 in the proposed 2013-14 budget to construct its own depot on a 2.6-acre piece of town-owned land off Jerry Browne Road. The land is used by the Valenti Auto Mall for additional employee parking. It is located between the dealership and Interstate 95.

Last week, the school system's Director of Operations, Bill King, pointed out to the Board of Finance that the project will pay for itself in less than three years based on the current lease. The finance board responded favorably to the plan, which then survived the initial round of capital improvement cuts.

The finance board meets again at 7 tonight at the police station to continue cutting and possibly finalizing a budget it can send to voters.

King said that if the $120,000 is approved, he hopes to be able to bring in a prefabricated building and install an above-ground oil tank on the site so the new depot can be in operation around the start of school in August.

King said the town has notified Valenti's of its plan as well as the owner of the depot who leases it to the town on a monthly basis.

Once the work is completed, the company that provides the bus service, First Student Inc., would move its fleet to the new depot. The state originally gave the land to the town, which then discussed developing a transportation depot there to alleviate traffic congestion in Mystic. That project never went forward. Valenti's has been using it since.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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