State bonds will benefit Norwich schools, other regional projects

Hartford - The State Bond Commission Friday approved a handful of allocations that will affect southeastern Connecticut's towns and cities. In total, the commission approved $725 million in general obligation, revenue bonds and other transactions. The majority of the loans, grants and funds were for housing and transportation projects.

Norwich's two Commissioner's Network elementary schools were approved for grants for capital improvements and security and technology upgrades. Commissioner's Network schools are low-performing schools that have additional supervision from the state. The Bond Commission approved $684,540 for the Uncas School at 280 Elizabeth St. and $245,157 for the John B. Stanton School at 386 New London Turnpike.

Norwich Superintendent Abby Dolliver said she is grateful for state support for the city's two Network schools. The funding will cover projects that otherwise couldn't get done with limited local funding, Dolliver said.

At Uncas, $191,997 will be used to install classroom wall partitions. Uncas was built in the "open classroom" style - with large open floor plans that make it difficult for classroom settings. The school now uses filing cabinets and storage cabinets as room dividers. Dolliver said the new dividers can be opened for combined classes or closed for individual classroom privacy.

The front entrance to Uncas will be upgraded for security and one storage room will be converted into a small community meeting room, Dolliver said.
Old, worn out carpeting will be replaced with floor tiles and cafeteria tables also will be replaced at Uncas.

Stanton, one of the state's first Network schools, received two state grants for capital improvements in 2013, including funding to build two portable classrooms now under construction. Included in Friday's grant is $82,985 to replace doors at the school.

Both schools will use a bulk of their state grants for technology upgrades, including purchasing dozens of iPad mini computers for students, installing smartboards for classrooms and for network computer switches.?

The New London courthouse was approved for $97,000 to replace an elevator cylinder,

The New London Homeless Hospitality Center was approved for a $53,000 grant to purchase a 15-passenger van in collaboration with the New London Community Meal Center.

The homeless center already has one van, but the additional van will allow the center to increase its ability to pick up people who are homeless and bring them to meals, medical appointments, the Department of Motor Vehicles to get identification cards, and fill out forms at the Department of Social Services for items such as food stamps, said Marilyn Glover, operations support staff member at the homeless center.

Glover said she also expects the new van to have the ability to lower down to the ground to accommodate people who can't step up into the van.

The commission approved a $2.7 million grant for the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority to give to the Eastern Shore Enterprise Limited Partnership or another eligible applicant to pay for the rehabilitation of the Faylor Apartments at 136 Boston Post Road in East Lyme.

Threadmill Partners LLC located in Stonington was approved to receive a $5 million loan with a 1 percent interest rate over 42 years to help with the redevelopment of a former mill building at 12 River Road. The project is expected to result in 40 market-rate housing units and 18 affordable housing units. The entire project is anticipated to cost $25 million.

The bond commission also approved $1 million to dredge the Mystic River Auxiliary Channel, which adds to $6.5 million that has been spent to dredge the Mystic River Federal Navigation Channel and the Mystic River Auxiliary Channel.


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