Ridgefield selectmen seek ARPA monies for school HVAC project, vehicles and more

RIDGEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted this past week to request monies from the town’s American Rescue Plan fund to fulfill a handful of capital projects on the books.

The request totals roughly $1.7 million, which would be used to bring improvements to the Venus Building, replace a HVAC system at Barlow Mountain Elementary School and purchase vehicles for the highway and fire departments.

The items were taken out of the town’s capital budget to be considered separately of the annual budget, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. The request has been sent to the Board of Finance for consideration, which, if approved, would then merit a town meeting to get the final OK from voters.

“These are things that we really need to get passed,” Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Coming in at just under $300,000 is the purchase of a quick-attack truck for the Ridgefield Fire Department. It differs from other roving apparatus since it’s smaller in size, which would improve RFD’s ability to respond to calls, according to Fire Chief Jerry Myers.

“We can handle any emergency that gets thrown at us provided we can get to it,” he said. “Ridgefield is a series of very small roads. With trees and wires coming down (in) inclement weather, it is exponentially harder to move our larger vehicles … around these obstacles.”

The truck is equipped with pumping capabilities, rescue tools, a full complement of paramedic gear, generator electrical lighting and four-wheel drive, Myers said.

There were times during “fast-moving” winter storms where the department’s larger vehicles would get stuck in the snow, he added. But with the quick-attack truck, members can more easily drive over snow and ice-covered roads, under downed wires and trees and through flooded areas.

This is especially helpful when attempting to reach residential homes with steep driveways or long, narrow access-ways, Myers said.

“(Being) able to get up in there is a lifesaver,” he added. “The truck brings a lot of very necessary capabilities to the department … (and) tremendous value for the town.”

Another vehicle on the selectmen’s wish list is a more than $234,000 Mack dump truck for the Highway Department.

Some of the town’s ARPA monies could also be allocated toward enhancing the Venus Building. The selectmen have requested $90,000 to install an ADA-compliant LULA elevator there and more than $500,000 to replace its HVAC system.

The last item on the list would also replace the HVAC system for the pool at Barlow Mountain Elementary School.

Back in the late ’70s, the town experienced a decrease in enrollment and sold the building to the YMCA, Marconi said. When the Y went out of business in the ’90s, the organization sold the building back to the town, which included a pool they had added.

“It turned out to be a great deal (since we) bought it back for less than what we sold it for, but it needs heating, ventilation and air conditioning replacement,” Marconi said.

The Board of Finance’s next meeting is Tuesday, March. 15, at 7 p.m.