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Killingworth Town Hall Addition Sparks Debate (Video)

A special town meeting held in Killingworth Tuesday night brought to light residents' concerns regarding the proposed addition to the town hall, while a handful of other residents touted the benefits of the current proposal.

 

A special town meeting was held at the Killingworth Fire Department with the Town Office Building Committee to answer questions regarding the proposed addition to the Killingworth Town Hall. The meeting openened with members of the committee providing an .

The proposed addition to the existing town hall would be an energy-efficient post-and-beam constructed building heated by geothermal energy and solar panels. It would nearly double the total square footage of the town hall, bringing it up to 14,441 square feet.

In terms of design, it dates back to the New England tradition of plots that included a big house, a little house, a back house and a barn. In this case, the existing Town Hall would be the big house. The addition would be a barn-like structure with vaulted ceilings and additional space.

After the quick overview, the floor was then turned over to the residents who raised their concerns on the project. Issues discussed included:

  • the concern of residents being able to
  • the cost of the proposed geo-thermal heating system 
  • trying to centralize local government in one location versus utilizing other vacant buldings in town
  • the various costs involved in converting vacant buildings to town office space
  • a request for the Town Office Building Committee to be more transparent and make public the line item project costs
  • the true cost of the project
  • a need for other plans besides just the one presented
  • an explanation of the need for adequate space in case of natural disasters or emergencies
  • why a lower cost option might end up costing more in the long run
  • how the town is not fully compliant with state polling laws and how the new addition would help the town become compliant

Committee member Jim Lally was "disappointed in the hostility" and "had hoped for more constructive criticism instead." Lally said the committee was "working for the good of the town" and he encouraged people to "be part of the solution."

Donald McDougal, Director of Emergency Management, said "we need to do something now or in the future...what we don't vote for today, down the road will cost more."

First Selectwoman, Cathy Iino, feels that the Emergency Operations Center space at the town hall is "crucial" for residents and "we need to think about the inadequate space we have" if there is a major emergency.

Resident Peggie Bushey feels that the bottom line is that "the town can't afford it" and she is "pleading to keep taxes down."

Committee member George Keithan said the committee is working hard and "wants this town to have the right solution."

(See videos for additional quotes from the meeting.)

Regardless of whether residents were for or against the proposed addition to the Killingworth Town Hall, most commended the volunteer Town Office Building Committee for their hard work and dedication over the last several years.

Four of the current five-member volunteer committee were on hand to answer questions at the meeting: Lou Anino Sr., Jim Lally, David Gross and George Keithan. The committe has changed over the last several years and is currently looking for any additional volunteers who may want to participate.

Two additional public meetings are scheduled in advance of the July 24 public referendum vote on the addition. This Thursday, and next Tuesday the 17, a meeting will be held at the elementary school at 7 p.m.

Read related stories on the Killingworth Town Hall proposed addition here.

Scott Perry July 17, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Per the handout in supoprt of the doubling the usable square footage of the Town Hall it states "[o]ver the life of a building, construction accounts for less than 20 percent of the total cost; in the long term, operating expenses dwarf building costs." Why drastically increase operating expenses with 4,000 square feet we do not need?
Dave Adametz July 17, 2012 at 07:09 PM
It is vague statements like the one you're pointing out that concerns me, Scott. Just in case others are unaware of how it works, the proposed geothermal system works by taking advantage of the constant temperature of the Earth at a certain distance below the ground. By cycling fluid from the building to below ground it can be used to dissipate excess heat out of the building during the summer, or by the same process, to warm the fluid and circulate it throughout the buidling to heat it during the winter. This all sounds well and good, but it still requires electricity to keep the pumps running. All this really means is that although the operating costs for heating oil will go down, the operating costs for electricity will go up because the geothermal system needs to remain in continuous operation because it's doing double duty in both heating and cooling. Does this therefore mean the building costs will dwindle over time making operating costs look large in comparison, or is it just an artful way of admitting operating costs will rise over time and make building costs look small in comparison? Did anyone ever actually consider this or are the promoters simply pushing the geothermal system entirely because of how sexy it sounds on paper?
Ray July 17, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Mr. Coletti, please explain what benefit my children will get from this grandiose town hall? They only go there when I have to pay a tax bill or buy a dog license. I DO know they will have an increased tax burden should they stay in Killingworth. As for a place to go in times of crisis is it really your first inclination to look to town hall to solve your problem when it's taken them almost ten years to come up with a proposal to solve one as dire as they claim this one is? I guess that Yankee know how and spirit has succumbed to government dependence for some.
Matthew Young July 20, 2012 at 01:19 PM
This town hall proposal has the potential of being the most corrupt, irresponsible spending I have seen at the town level. At the meeting the other night, it was made clear to all of us that the rendering of the new town hall building is just conceptual. The 3.5 + million was going to be spent the way the building committee and Board Of Selectman see fit. That’s right, they will change the building details to what ever they want to. Once they get our money, they can spend it on whatever amenities they want. This is true. I have a problem with this for many reasons but the reason that sticks out for me is why didn’t they propose the building they want in the first place? I was told that they might come in cheaper than the estimates but does this happen with government? I was told that they would take the discussions we had at the meeting into consideration as they finalize the building plans, all well and good but what does this really mean? It stinks like a bait and switch routine. I am not accusing anyone of corruption or breaking the law but why do we have a “fake” building design that we are voting on?
Matthew Young July 20, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Members of the building committee have done what they were asked to do and added some extremely extravagant amenities to this building proposal. Many of the expensive amenities are not needed for town government. Why spend the extra money now or ever? Our roads need work, our ball fields and parks need lots of work, our fire department building needs work, on and on and on. Apparently the Board Of Selectman would like to start with the town hall and put all of these other needs on the back burner. With the economy the way it is you have to ask the question: Will any of the building committee members have the opportunity to bid on the work for this new building? I was told that they are professionals in the construction industry. Why the expense and why right now?

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