$800,000 sought for projects in New London

New London - As the city grapples with where to find millions of dollars to fix up municipal buildings in need of roofs, gutters, heating systems and structural repairs, the City Council will consider Monday new requests for another $800,000 to update computers, install surveillance cameras downtown and make improvements to City Pier to allow tall ships to tie up there safely.

City Council President Wade Hyslop, who also is chairman of the Finance Committee, said Friday the council needs to determine how it can fund the much-needed infrastructure repairs and what should be done first.

"We're going to have put together a capital improvement plan and figure out what to prioritize," he said.

The city is under orders from the local health department to repair a broken steam pipe and clean up a room filled with mold in City Hall, a project that could cost more than $50,000. It is looking at a decaying recreation center that needs a new roof, a fire headquarters that doesn't meet building codes and a high school that is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Monday, the Finance Committee will look at other projects that the mayor's administration wants to move forward. The Finance Committee meets at 5 p.m. in City Hall, followed by the City Council at 7 p.m.

Tammy Daugherty, director of the Office of Development and Planning, is seeking about $300,000 to install a fendering system, bollards and mooring hardware at City Pier to accommodate large ships. Daugherty said the work needs to be done by spring, when both the Coast Guard barque Eagle and Mystic Seaport's Charles W. Morgan are expected to spend several days at the city's waterfront.

In 2012, the city re-opened the 350-foot pier behind Union Station following a $5 million reconstruction project. Timbers that support original pilings, which were installed in 1939, were replaced. The new design was supposed to allow 100-foot boats to dock at the outer ends of the pier.

Hyslop said it is not clear if the requested improvements were part of the original reconstruction project and weren't completed, or if they are new proposals. The money would be bonded, which is a long-term loan.

Another $300,000 bond request would cover the costs of designing and installing a video surveillance camera system throughout the downtown area, a program that Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio first proposed when he was elected in 2011.

Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard, who has been actively working on the mayor's Public Safety Camera Initiative for several months, and Finance Director Jeff Smith, are asking the council to sign a contract with Omni Data Solutions of Woodbridge to design and install a "turnkey system." Omni already has contracts with Manchester, Bridgeport and Madison.

"Because of the complexity of designing and installing a modern ... video surveillance system we feel it would be in the City of New London's best interest to piggy-back off contracts entered into by similar Connecticut municipalities," the pair wrote in a Jan. 29 memo.

The proposed system for New London could include up to 40 cameras placed throughout the downtown area.

The city's Information Technology Department also is seeking about $200,000 for five separate proposals to replace old and nearly outdated computers and software systems, and to purchase 10 new in-car video cameras for police cars. The IT department also wants to update the city's computer servers and replace outdated 6-year-old firewalls that are in place to prevent hackers and other Internet threats.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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