$200 million in bonding, $100,000 bid on agenda Monday for New London committees

New London - The City Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall will be a busy venue Monday night.

Though the full council will not meet, some of its committees will convene to tackle weighty issues facing the city: a proposal to bond more than $200 million to fund a school construction project, a resolution to designate almost $1 million for Riverside Park improvements, and what to do about the $100,000 bid for the Lighthouse Inn.

First, at 5:30 p.m., the council's Finance Committee and Education, Parks and Recreation committees will hold a joint meeting to discuss the bonding ordinance.

"My committee will be dealing with the financial bonding package, to take a look at the bonding and be able to hopefully pass it on to the full council," Wade A. Hyslop, the council's president and chairman of the Finance Committee, said earlier this week. "Hopefully all of it will be vetted and then any questions that come up can be answered."

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio announced the project and its associated costs June 13 and said the council will have to approve it by June 30 in order to "lock in" funding commitments from the state.

The project, which would complete the facilities portion of the city's transition to an all-magnet school district, would involve renovating as new Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and New London High School, and constructing a building to house a science, technology, engineering and math middle school at the high school campus.

Some facilities of the Garde Arts Center, as part of its own capital improvement plan, would also be expanded and renovated to accommodate an arts magnet high school in downtown New London.

In total, the project is expected to cost roughly $216 million - all of which the city would have to bond - though the state legislature has approved reimbursement rates of 95 percent for the Garde project and 80 percent for each of the other two buildings, leaving the city to pay the balance of roughly $34 million.

The committees will also take up the issue of Riverside Park and the nearly $1 million in improvements proposed there.

The plan to improve the park is based largely on a proposal developed in 2011 by the Community Research and Design Collaborative at the University of Connecticut, and aims to better link Winthrop Elementary Magnet School, the park and the Thames River.

The proposal calls for a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks near the water's edge, a pier extending out into the river, and additional picnic and activity spaces within the park.

The committees will consider spending $925,000 from a bond ordinance the council approved in 2011 to fund the improvements.

At 6:30 p.m., the Economic Development Committee will meet to hear a presentation from Anthony D. Acri III regarding his bid for the historic Lighthouse Inn and his plans to rehabilitate the property.

Acri's $100,000 offer was the only one the city received. It is far short of the $500,000 minimum bid the city had set for the Guthrie Place property and didn't come close to its assessed value of more than $3 million.

Ultimately, the City Council will have to vote to either accept or reject Acri's bid.

c.young@theday.com

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