From Sustainable CT to COVID, Gister Updates Chester Town Officials
At Chester’s July 22 Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting, First Selectman Lauren Gister updated selectmen, attendees, and members of the town’s Board of Finance on several issues affecting the town.
Main Street Project
Working off a document titled Main Street Project III Progress Report, which is available with the July 22 BOS agenda on the town’s website chesterct.org, Gister reported on the progress and financials of the Main Street Project.
She focused her comments on the project’s timeline, status of funding, and unexpected issues as of July 21.
For project costs, Gister reported that the town has spent $295,257 in taxpayer money on the project over the four-year period from June 2016 to July 1, 2020.
These funds, from the town’s Main Street III capital account, went toward preparation of the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program (LOTCIP) application, which is the state entity providing grant money for the project. Other uses included legal fees, surveying, exploratory test pits, and on-site mark-outs for parking design, and more.
Gister indicated that $179,089 is remaining in authorized funds from the Main Street III capital account for construction administration, municipal administration, and additional paving. These funds will also cover direct support for the downtown merchants and any unexpected or unforeseen items not covered under the LOTCIP grant funding.
As of July 22, the town had paid $249,979 to the construction company, Colonna Concrete & Asphalt Paving, LLC, with LOTCIP grant funds.
Gister indicated that a second payment installation to Colonna was expected later in the week and that the project was at 75 percent completion with $1,300,000 of the contract in place.
“At this point, we are in very good shape downtown, as messy and noisy as it is; we are well within our budget,” said Gister.
After a presentation from two interns from the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, related to Chester’s involvement with Sustainable CT, Gister expanded on the town’s status with the organization.
While Chester registered with Sustainable CT in 2018, the town has not made progress in submitting information on action items in the program’s nine categories, which is required to achieve different levels of sustainable certification.
The co-chairs of Chester’s Sustainable CT committee “are going to be reaching out to the people who attended [the committee meetings] last year and see if they can get that group to be active again, in addition to the fact that they are going through and taking an inventory of what we have already accomplished and how we register that in our system,” said Gister.
The small beach at Cedar Lake “has been closed for four days in the last two weeks because of high levels of bacteria,” said Gister. “The guess is that it’s either storm run-off or birds, or something else.”
The Connecticut River Area Health District (CRAHD) is responsible for daily water quality testing at the site. For updates on the beach status, follow the town on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/chesterct.
“At this point, you know, we’re doing okay” regarding tax revenue, Gister said. “Honestly, we talked at the Board of Finance meeting about how we weren’t as worried about now as we might be for January, but we’ll take that when we get there.
“So, a lot of that is going to depend on what happens with the economy and COVID, so I just wanted to say that we are a little bit behind where we were last year, but we are still in the ball park,” she added.
Cherry Hill Apartments
In 2019, the town was awarded $800,000 in funding through the state Department of Housing Community Development Block Grant Small Cities program for the Cherry Hill Apartment complex.
Construction is imminent to improve “siding, air conditioning, windows, parking lot, sidewalks, for the Cherry Hill Apartments, the 23 apartments….in four or five buildings, so that is happening,” said Gister.
Briefing on COVID
“At our biweekly COVID briefing from the health district this morning…we have not had a positive case in Chester for over six weeks, not at a nursing home and not in community spread,” said Gister. “We’ve had a couple of scares of people who have been contact traced to have been in contact with someone who tested positive, but then they did not end up having a positive test themselves.”
Gister indicated that leaders of the town’s long-term recovery committee, Emergency Management Director Ray Guasp and Fire Chief James Grzybowski, would provide an update to the BOS at its Wednesday, Aug. 12 meeting.
Gister also informed attendees at the July 22 BOS meeting that the Region 4 School District will hold meetings on Saturday and Friday, Aug. 4 and 10, to discuss, among other potential items, the mascot and use of Native American imagery at Valley Regional High School.
Visit the Board of Education tab on the R4 website reg4.k12.ct.us for more information