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City Meadow Moves Forward With Help From Private Foundations

By Wiley Wood

The City Meadow project is on track, according to Samuel “Pete” Anderson, a member of the town’s City Meadow Committee. Construction on the proposed park in the sunken wetlands below Station Place is now expected to start in mid-August.

The committee met on July 10 to iron out difficulties, cash flow among them. While the town has been awarded a $500,000 Main Street Grant from the state, that money will take the form of a reimbursement after the work has been completed.

“I was surprised to learn that we have to spend $500,000 in order to get $500,000,” said Michael Sconyers, chairman of the Board of Finance.

The committee had received initial indications that the town would pay construction costs from its excess fund balance and replenish the account when the state’s grant money came through, but Sconyers said the town could not afford the risk.

Citing inadequate cash reserves, Sconyers said First Selectman Sue Dyer would not sign an agreement with the contractor until all of the money needed to complete the project was in a bank account marked for City Meadow.

The low bid for the project came in at $700,000. An additional $100,000 is needed for contingencies and a clerk of the works. A total of $800,000 is therefore needed before the signing.

Two local foundations, Norfolk Foundation and Coalition for Sound Growth, have committed to making the money available. Any reimbursement from the state will go to them. Completing the project is expected to entail some fundraising in town.

Members of the committee met with Richard Sumner of SumCo Eco-Contracting, the low bidder, on July 17 to discuss whether cost savings could be introduced without modifying the scope of the project.

The contractor estimates that the earthmoving will take 45 days and the boardwalk and planting a further 20 days. A mid-August start would therefore allow completion of the project before the first hard frosts in late October.

Sconyers expressed approval for the plan: “I can’t see another thing that is going to be good for Norfolk like this thing is.”

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