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East Lyme puts $2.55 million in bonding up for vote

East Lyme -- Residents will be asked at a special town meeting Wednesday if they wish to approve $2.55 million in bonding to fund capital projects in education, public works and the fire department.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The appropriation covers $1 million in projects at the high school and middle school, $680,000 for a new pumper truck at the Niantic Fire Department and $850,000 toward the town's effort to maintain its roads.

The expenses are part of an overall 10-year capital improvement plan approved this year as part of a months-long budget process involving department heads, the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance. Finance board Chairman Camille Alberti said the purpose of Wednesday's special town meeting is to approve the funding for specific capital items.

The $1 million request focuses largely on HVAC and roof needs at the high school and middle school. The plan includes $200,000 for some new HVAC air handlers at the middle school, which Superintendent of Schools Jeff Newton has said is part of a larger plan that will take eight to 10 years to complete. The district is also asking for $150,000 for air handlers at the high school.

The schools' capital plan also calls for $273,000 to extend the life of the high school roof in sections that are 22 and 23 years old. Budget documents show the 20-year roof extension coating is approximately one-third the cost of replacement.

Public Works Director Joe Bragaw said this year's request is part of a capital pavement management plan to allocate roughly $800,000 to $850,000 per year so the roads "don't keep deteriorating."

He said his request last year was reduced to $500,000 through the budget process, which left the department unable to work on Grassy Hill Road and Dean Road. Both will be fixed this summer if the funds are approved Wednesday. Dean Road from East Society Road to Lovers Lane and from Lovers Lane to Route 1 will be repaired as will Grassy Hill Road from Upper Walnut Hill Road to the Montville line.

Another appropriation up for approval is $680,000 for a new fire engine for Niantic Fire Department.

Niantic Fire Chief Jim Barone said the new truck will replace its 1991 Simon Duplex pumper. He told selectmen earlier this month that the department has been asking to replace the truck for five years.

He said the truck will be the same as what they have now, with updated technology and modifications. He told The Day he hopes a new truck could arrive within a year, but that it could take as long as two.

Voters will also be asked to approve a request to use $137,880 from the capital non-recurring fund on expenses related to roof repairs, HVAC replacement work, the East Lyme/Waterford boat motor, sidewalk repairs, computer servers, revaluation and CAD software and survey equipment.

The final question up for vote earmarks $170,000, which will be reimbursed through the state's Local Capital Improvement Program, for parking lot repairs, dam maintenance and bridge and culvert repairs. The state program provides financial assistance for capital projects such as road, bridge or public building construction activities.

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