Milford aldermen approve bonds for playgrounds, sewer upgrades, and new firetruck

Milford City Hall, Spring 2021.

Milford City Hall, Spring 2021.

Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — School projects, sewers, road work and the purchase of a new fire truck are on the bond money to-do list, according to city officials.

The Board of Aldermen, at its meeting Monday, approved issuing $19.3 million worth of bonds, with school projects accounting for about $8.8 million of that total.

One of the bonds is $1.87 million for the Housatonic Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade for Athletic Brewing. 

"The Athletic Brewing proposal is unique," said Milford Mayor Ben Blake. "We authorize bonding approximately $20 million to $30 million, and part of that is reimbursable by either grants or reimbursement programs through the state or federal government. This is a reimbursement or funding of our debt service by a private organization, almost a public-private partnership."

The Housatonic plant needs some updates, but Blake said they don't need to be made this year, but would likely be required within the next five years.

"Athletic Brewing is a huge non-alcoholic brewery, and the sewer commission has approved them for 20,000 gallons a day of flow into our wastewater treatment system," Blake said. "They want to increase capacity to 80,000 gallons per day of flow. In order to do that, our consultants and engineers are requiring we make improvements or enhancements to our wastewater facility we have to accommodate the additional flow."

The agreement the city has with Athletic Brewing is the company will fund the debt service over the 10-year bond until the entire note is paid off, Blake said.

"Is there some risk? Yes, because if Athletic Brewing (fails), there is that risk," Blake said. "What's different, however, we still get those upgrades and even in the short amount of time they've been in Milford, Athletic Brewing has demonstrated they are well-backed, well-financed and moving forward at a quick clip."

For sewer projects, Blake said the Sewer Commission works with wastewater treatment plant and sewer consultants to help with prioritization of projects and then the commission makes recommendations to the mayor's office and the Board of Aldermen.

"On other projects, we look at the five-year capital improvement plan, and ... other projects, some of the needs of the community," he said. "Sometimes it's school needs. If we know schools are putting in a new playground we may not make enhancements to a pocket park nearby, we may delay that because there's something in the area. There's a whole host of different factors."

The bond package includes $2.8 million for upgrades to the New Haven Avenue Pump Station, Live Oaks Pump station, Old Gate Lane Pump Station Building, among others. That work, along with plans associated with Athletic Brewing, bring the sewer work to a combined total of $4.675 million.

City maintenance, public works projects and more account for $5.8 million in bonding, highlighted by a new firetruck to replace an 11-year old model in front-line service.

Milford Public Schools accounts for $8.8 million of the bonds, with $1.1 million earmarked for improving playgrounds and exterior play areas at Matthewson and Meadowside elementary schools.

"When I told my son where I was going tonight and told him it was a for a new playground, he just jumped up and down," said resident Diana Beilin. "Playgrounds are so important for little kids, they get to exert their energy, play with friends and be creative."

"I am a student at Meadowside school, and I feel that we should have a new playground because it is a little bit older and dirtier," Liliana Magazine, a fifth grader at Meadowside, told the Board of Aldermen. "Some kids in our building can't physically climb or run, and that's all we can really do at our playground. I'd like to see the kids with special needs be able to play on the playground."

Jim Richetelli, Milford Public Schools chief operations officer, said all of the designs for playgrounds include accessible components.

"Life expectancy for these playgrounds is about 20 years," he said.

Other projects under the Milford Public Schools bond include HVAC, boilers and masonry improvements and $5.5 million for middle and high school technical education facilities and equipment.