Groton town manager proposes $3.9 million capital spending plan

Groton — Town Manager John Burt has proposed a nearly $3.9 million capital improvement program for the coming fiscal year, including $1 million to replace the police department’s aging radio system.

Of the $3.9 million in spending, about $900,000 would be covered by user fees or grants.

Many of the police department's mobile and portable radios are 15 to 20 years old, and officers have limited communication or hit “dead spots” in Mystic and other sections of town, according to the project summary.

The upgrade would replace the radios and tie in to the state radio system, allowing officers to speak directly to state police as well as other agencies.

"There is a significant concern for officer and public safety, particularly since we have experienced failures of the system during critical events, including a recent presidential visit," police Chief L.J. Fusaro wrote to Burt in an email. Many parts of the department's radio system hardware, including receivers, mobile radios and portable radios are past their expected life span to the point that replacement parts are unavailable, he said.

With the new radio system, Groton Town police potentially could expand to cover Groton City and Groton Long Point, the project summary said. Town leaders have long debated whether Groton should have three police departments, one each for Groton Town, Groton City and Groton Long Point.

Burt also recommended spending $320,000 to integrate the town's computer-aided dispatch and police records systems.

Under the current setup, officers manually enter information about what happens during their calls, increasing time spent on data entry, Fusaro wrote in his email to Burt. Data also has been lost between the two systems, resulting in reporting errors to state and federal agencies, Fusaro wrote.

In addition to projects focused on public safety and technology, Burt proposed spending $300,000 for engineering work to rebuild Groton Long Point Bridge in the future. The project would cost $3.5 million to $4.5 million, with an anticipated bond referendum in November 2020, according to the project summary. Groton is eligible for Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program funding for the project.

Tropical Storm Irene damaged the bridge in 2011, and Superstorm Sandy then pounded the causeway, or road leading to the bridge, in 2012. The bridge, over Palmer's Cove, provides access for walkers and cyclists to reach Esker Point Beach from Groton Long Point and for cars and other vehicles to cross into Groton Long Point and Mumford Cove.

Other capital projects include $400,000 to replace town fuel tanks, $400,000 to convert the highway garage from fuel oil to gas, $190,000 to complete upgrades to the police department firing range, $97,000 to improve public safety information technology and $92,000 to improve security in the town's information technology systems.

d.straszheim@theday.com 

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