Money for New Milford library, Ridgefield, Danbury wastewater plants, Newtown police station
Voters across the Danbury area supported Tuesday spending millions to renovate their library, build a new police station and upgrade wastewater treatment plants in their towns.
In New Milford, residents approved a $6.5 million renovation to its library. The project had failed twice before, but passed 7,780 to 3,290 this time.
“We are so grateful to the town coming through for us,” Library Director Sally Tornow said. “It really shows we’re needed.”
The library will expand from 15,000 to 22,000 square feet, adding meeting space as well as expanding and relocating the children and young adult sections. The plan will also make the library compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The library will hear at the end of the month whether it will receive a $1 million state grant to help with the overall $8.5 million construction.
Both Danbury and Ridgefield supported projects for their wastewater treatment plants.
Danbury residents voted 15,207 to 3,222 in favor of the $102.6 million upgrades to the plant, which has not undergone major improvements in 25 years. New state environmental discharge regulations require a massive rebuild of the existing systems.
City officials unsuccessfully battled those regulations in court for years and now must complete the upgrades by 2022, including having a complete design by July 1 to receive 10s of millions in state funding.
“I’m glad the voters agreed with us that we have to move forward with this,” Mayor Mark Boughton said. “We’re already into it in terms of design and to meet our goal of getting it into the state to meet its deadline and receive our state funding.”
Ridgefield’s $48 million project for the town’s sewer system passed by a vote of 7,067 to 4,687. These upgrades will also make the system complaint with new state and federal guidelines.
Under the plan, the Route 7 facility will be closed and the 120,000 gallons it treats per day will be pumped to the South Street facility, which will be upgraded.
“Wastewater infrastructure is often out of sight and out of mind, so we are grateful that people recognized its value as they came out to vote (Tuesday),” Amy Siebert, chair of the Water Pollution Control Authority, said.
The town is seeking $11.5 million in grants for the work, but the rest of the project will be covered by increased sewer rates and $8 million from the general taxpayers.
In Newtown, voters approved $14.8 million for a new police station, and to buy land on South Main Street and Peck’s Lane for the new headquarters. The referendum passed with about 62 percent of the vote, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said.
“It’s a nice message to send to the men and woman of the police department that voters backed the plan,” Rosenthal said.
The existing building on South Main Street is in disrepair and too small for the department, which has more than doubled its officers since the old station was built in the early 1980s.
In Ridgefield, voters resoundingly passed a controversial plan to separate the Inland Wetlands Board from the Planning and Zoning Commission. The current system has the same nine members acting as both the board and the commission.
But three of the nine charter questions failed - including proposals to make the town treasurer and tax collector positions appointed instead of elected and a requirement to have 2 percent of the voter population present at the annual budget meeting to make a change to the town or school budget. Among other questions that passed was a rule prohibiting candidates from running for more than one elected office with overlapping terms at once, which had caused confusion after the 2017 elections.
In New Milford, residents approved charter revisions that dealt with town finances and the finance board, with other changes cleaning up the language.
Under one change, a failed budget will go back to the finance board and only the rejected budget would be changed. Previously, the Town Council could revise both the schools and town budgets if one of them failed.