Fairfield's 10-year capital plan predicts costs of $141 million

FAIRFIELD — The town predicts it’ll spend $141 million over the next 10 years on building and renovation projects.

At its annual capital planning workshop Tuesday, the Board of Finance examined building cost projections through 2029 for the Board of Education, Department of Public Works, Parks and Recreation and the police and fire departments.

These numbers, emphasized Chief Fiscal Officer Bob Mayer, are provisional and subject to change. They do, however, ask departments to be as inclusive as possible in their projections and, when in doubt, provide estimates on the higher side.

The town’s projections totaled $84 million. The Department of Public Works was a major area of interest, given the recent arrests of the department’s director and superintendent.

Approaching the DPW with fresh eyes, Interim Director Bryan Carey aimed to include expenses in the capital plan that are usually left to the operating budget. Carey strove, he said, “to capture everything that we can and put it on this list”

Flooding was a theme of DPW expenses, including plans for flood prevention at Rooster River and the installation of a South Benson storm water pump station to adapt to rising sea levels.

On the Parks and Recreation side, fields were a main concern as Director Anthony Calabrese laid out a plan for adding turf to Roger Ludlowe Middle School, South Pine Creek Soccer Field and Sullivan Football Field.

“We are lacking field space,” Calabrese said, noting that teams are often left with nowhere to practice when poorly drained grass fields are wet.

He also pointed to upcoming playground replacement projects at Pine Creek Park and Tunxis Hill Park, as well as the potential $8 million marina renovation, if the current plan gets approved.

The fire department projected necessary expenditures for new trucks, as well as updates to the town’s five firehouses. Many of the well-worn buildings are becoming untenable, and they expressed the need for a long-term renovation plan.

“We can deal with old, but we can’t deal with broken and unreliable,” said Fire Chief Denis McCarthy.

They discussed the potential of working with Westport to create a joint Green Farms and Southport station, since the nearby firehouses are both in need of replacement.

The police and fire departments also laid out $5.9 million expense for a new joint radio system, which would be more reliable and allow them to improve communication both with each other and between towns.

The Board of Education’s projection came out to $57 million, lower than the Board of Finance expected.

The actual 10-year numbers, however, will likely be significantly higher. Estimates don’t include many costs more than five years out, including the potentially expensive, all-district air conditioning project the Board of Education is currently considering.

New items in the Board of Education’s current projection include an HVAC project for Warde’s cafeteria and the purchase and renovation of a new space for Walter Fitzgerald.