SOUTHBURY — The Board of Selectmen, meeting Thursday, July 15, discussed the costs associated with potentially improving the existing Ballantine Park Pool.
Finance Director Dan Colton reported on his meeting with SLR, formerly Milone & MacBroom, which is working on the Middletown pool project.
There, a new pool will cost $1.5 million and renovations to the bathhouse will bring the project total to approximately $2 million.
According to First Selectman Jeff Manville, the rebuild of the bathhouse at Ballantine Park would be the primary driver behind the high cost of such a project in Southbury, as that building is not ADA-compliant and would need to be torn down.
“The estimates we received were around $2.6 million for a total rebuild of the bathhouse,” he said
Selectman Emily Harrison referred to previous estimates of $2.3 million for Southbury’s project, pointing to $850,000 as the estimate for the bathhouse.
She expressed curiosity in the details, asking how much work would be done in-house in Middletown, wondering where soft costs would come in.
Mr. Colton agreed with the first selectman and said the bathhouse alone would cost $2.6 million, adding that number would include site work such as parking lot work.
Selectman Mike Rosen claimed that information had not been shared with the public and argued, “It does seem like a really big number to build a 3,000-square-foot building.”
Selectman George Bertram said he would be willing to review numbers, but was unprepared to do so during the meeting.
“I have a lot of questions,” Selectman Justin Bette said, describing $2.6 million for a bathhouse as insane.
Mr. Manville encouraged selectmen to contact Mr. Colton to review the numbers. “You need to be informed.”
In other business, Mr. Manville referred to a legal opinion regarding the flying of flags in Southbury.
As he said various municipalities are flying flags from various organizations, he noted that part of his job is to protect the town from possible litigation as the town decides what to hang and possibly refuse to fly some flags.
“We came up with pretty restrictive criteria,” he said.
He noted that only the Turkey Trot and the Southbury Public Library have met that criteria to date. “I’m of the cautious type. I prefer not to expose the town, even if you win, to expensive litigation.”
The first selectman predicted that the town would eventually be asked to display something that might be considered offensive and the town would run into issues if it refused.
“There’s no clarity,” Mr. Rosen said of the opinion, and agreed with Mr. Manville’s litigation concerns before he quoted Martin Luther King, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
He referred to his request to demonstrate the town’s inclusiveness by flying a Pride flag, pointing out that the Pride flag was flown at the White House.
He explained that he had mentioned the Pride flag specifically after several residents brought the matter to his attention.
Mr. Rosen suggested that the board address the matter on a case-by-case basis. “This to me is far more of a moral issue than a legal issue. The moral thing to do… is to say to our neighbors, you are all welcome here.”
He would like to hear from residents on the matter. Mr. Manville agreed, inviting residents to email all selectmen rather than his office alone.
Before adjourning, Mr. Manville said the town just received guidance on how to use funds from the American Rescue Plan before he said discussions would need to take place in order to determine where Southbury would like to focus spending.
“Interestingly, it doesn’t read very easily or with clarity,” he said.
He added that a purchase order had been issued to upgrade technology with which the town can live-stream meetings. The equipment is back-ordered.
The Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, September 15, to gather feedback on the suggestion for a nine-month moratorium on marijuana establishments in town. That timeframe would give the commissioners time to write a comprehensive marijuana regulation.
Mr. Manville congratulated Southbury Ambulance Association, which is now providing paramedic-level service to Southbury; he commended the volunteers for their hard work in making this happen.
A paramedic will respond to calls with the local ambulance, providing quicker response; previously, a paramedic would respond from Waterbury.
Southbury began paramedic level service in November 2019 to its primary service area; this recent designation expands that coverage to the whole town.
Southbury Ambulance will continue to work with the Heritage Village Ambulance Association and neighboring towns to ensure the health and safety of residents and visitors, SAA members said.