NEWINGTON - Two weeks before voters are expected to weigh in on a $28.8 million renovation to Town Hall, the building cast its own ballot.
Staff in the Office of the Registrar of Voters arrived last Monday morning to find crucial paperwork and equipment drenched after a radiator in a back room split. It was as inopportune a time as any, since the testing of voting machines was supposed to take place that very morning.
“Every single machine we have to try out with a test ballot,” Democratic Registrar Marie Fox explained. “Now all the paperwork and notebooks for the polling stations have to be replaced. Thank God the polling machines weren’t wet.”
It wasn’t the first time the office dealt with a system failure. Fox said she fell ill last year because the heater malfunctioned, making the office air difficult to breathe. This time she and Republican Registrar Linda Cultrera handled the problem and quickly moved on, contacting the facilities department and cleaning up the water. The paperwork will take some time to replace.
On Election Day, Nov. 7, registered voters will have an opportunity to elect a new council and school board, but also to answer the $28 million question.
“If the referendum doesn’t pass they’re going to have to do something about the building and I hope this would be a priority,” Cultrera said.
Newington Facilities Director David Langdon has become an emergency responder when these disasters occur.
“It’s been happening more often because of the building’s age,” he said of the HVAC systems slipping. “Even if the project passes I still have to maintain the building for another two years, before we get a new one,” Langdon pointed out. “I fix things as they break and keep the building as comfortable as I can for the occupants. I hope it passes but I’ll keep doing my job even if it doesn’t.”
The Town Hall renovation project has spent nearly a decade on the drafting board and has failed at the polls once before. Elected officials and town employees hope voters give them the green light for the carefully crafted plan of late.
Drafted by the town’s project building committee along with Quisenberry-Arcari Architects and Downes Construction, the plan calls for a 72,960-square-foot structure containing town offices and a community center. The footprint is 30 percent smaller than the current building, which is in need of new plumbing, heating and cooling systems, as well as handicapped accessibility.
Town Manager Tanya Lane is expected to give a presentation on the project at the Newington Kiwanis Club’s monthly speaker meeting today at 7 p.m. at Paradise Pizza, 10 East St., New Britain.
Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend. Those who wish to dine should arrive earlier, as the restaurant’s regular menu will be available.
Design plans are also available at Town Hall and online at newingtonct.gov.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.