Orange residents to vote on $14.9M upgrades
ORANGE >> A referendum will be held April 18 on securing bonding for $14.9 million for 14 capital improvements to schools, the police station, roads and town buildings.
Of that amount, about $5.3 million would be paid by the state, provided the state stays “solid,” said First Selectman James Zeoli, referring to the state’s budget crisis.
The issue was aired during a recent special meeting of the Board of Selectmen.
Referendum voting will be noon-8 p.m. Absentee ballots must be picked up at the town clerk’s office, rather than mailed.
The town’s bond expert said the cost of borrowing money for 25 years is low because Orange has a AAA rating, the highest possible. Zeoli said the improvements have a life of at least 30-50 years.
The bonded improvements would include:
• Buildings: renovation of the south wing of High Plains Community Center; update of the Capecelatro Pool locker rooms, which haven’t been significantly renovated in 41 years; exterior renovations to the library; and upgrade of Turkey Hill School to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
• Roads, lots: rehabilitation of the Derby Milford Road bridge; widening of part of Derby Milford Road; repaving of the 50-year-old Turkey Hill School parking lot; paving of the Police, Fire and Highway department lots; rehabilitation of the driveway and parking lot at Race Brook School; and driveway work at Fred Wolfe Park.
• Also, a new Police Department generator, a new police communication console; and a dehumidifier for the town pool.
Selectmen took comments from residents during the meeting, and while there was no controversy or opposition to the projects, resident Jody Dietch suggested a dog park be built at Fred Wolfe Park. She suggested naming the park after the late Bridget Albert, a former Register reporter and dog lover.
Dietch said the money for the dog park, with fencing, could be generated by increasing the longtime dog licensing fee from $7 to $15 and putting the difference, $8, aside.
Dietch estimates, based on other communities, that a dog park would cost $10,000. Under the fee-increase plan, with about 800 licensed dogs in town, the money would be there in two years. Zeoli didn’t dismiss the concept, but said when he spoke with the town’s insurance carrier, issues about liability were raised. Dietch suggested covering any increased insurance costs through the higher license fee once the dog park is created.