SOUTHINGTON - The Town Council voted Tuesday to appropriate $2 million for open space land acquisition and $2.6 million to repair an aging roof at Southington High School.
Peter Romano, director of operations at Southington Public Schools, noted that 71,000 square feet of roof would be replaced.
“It was installed in the high school in 1998 and is pushing the limits of its useful life as you can imagine,” said Romano.
The roof replacement will go before voters in a fall referendum. If approved, the town will put together a bid package during the winter and work is expected to begin next summer.
The open space appropriation will also go before voters this fall.
Councilor Dawn Miceli, who has served on the Open Space and Land Acquisition Committee for more than a decade, said the town has preserved 540 acres of open space since 1999. Three referendums have been held for open space appropriation previously and all have passed.
“Having open space is good for a community’s health, stability, beauty and overall quality of life,” said Miceli. “For many years we have heard that overdevelopment is a concern. It can be difficult when you pass by a formerly wooded land that has been clear cut for new homes.”
During a presentation, Miceli added that open space conserves natural resources and creates an overall town aesthetic. She also said studies have shown that having open space can have a long-term positive impact on the town’s tax structure and increases property values of nearby homes.
During a public hearing, resident Phil Pomposi argued that the council should prioritize library renovations and expansions over open space acquisition. He said the library and its meeting rooms are too small for a community of Southington’s size.
“I cannot support this ahead of a referendum for the library,” he said. “If you put out a referendum for $10 million to renovate the library I’d be shocked if it didn’t get 90 percent approval. This should be on the back burner. This is not a priority. Two million won’t buy you anything; development will continue in this town like it has the past 60 years.”
Pomposi said he would do everything he can to see the open space referendum defeated if a library renovation referendum is not also set for this fall.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org