By EKATERINE TCHELIDZE
Chronicle Staff Writer
WILLIMANTIC â€” A town council subcommittee was given three options to build a band shell at Jillson Square after bids for construction came in higher than anticipated.
Windham Town Manager Jim Rivers presented those options last week to the town councilâ€™s public safety, public works, environment, culture and recreation committee.
After discussion, the subcommittee voted unanimously last Wednesday to send the matter to the full town council later this month.
Originally, band shell bids were expected to be anywhere between $400,000 and $500,000, but they turned out to be twice as much.
Now, the total cost of the entire project is $820,000, which includes $760,000 for construction and $60,000 for testing, electrical service and contingencies.
The town already has $400,000 budgeted for the band shell, with a state Department of Economic and Community Development grant adding $165,000 along with a $100,000 promise from the Lester E. and Phyllis M. Foster Foundation.
The Foster Foundation pledged to donate $100,000 in installments of $10,000 over the course of 10 years.
Because the bids were too high, it leaves the town $155,000 short in funding.
Both Rivers and the committee were in favor of an option that sought to appropriate $100,000 from the general fund â€” equal to the foundationâ€™s contribution.
Then, the town would repay the general fund over 10 years at $10,000 per year.
To make up for the difference in costs, Windham would also appropriate $155,000 from the general fund and reimburse that fund through leftover Local Capital Improvement Program (LoCIP) funds from the state.
The other two options discussed involved bonding funds instead of tapping into the general fund. Those would require interest payments and higher long-term costs.
â€śOption one is our recommended method,â€ť Rivers said.
Windham Town Engineer Joe Gardner also expressed support for the first option.
â€śIt wonâ€™t have any impact on taxpayers, whereas bonding would cost taxpayers money,â€ť Gardner said.
As part of its vote, the subcommittee recommended the first option, though a final say will be rendered by the town council and, ultimately, the voters.
The band shell would be a place for local events and concerts to take place at Jillson and is seen as a key component to revitalizing downtown and enhancing entertainment options.
While band shell construction costs have gone up, other capital improvement project costs, like the repair of sidewalks and paving on Main Street and others, went down, saving the town money and allowing for the use of LoCIP funds, Rivers said.
The goal is to start the project by April 1.
To do so, the council will meet Tuesday, Feb. 20, to revise the capital improvement plan and schedule a town meeting for Tuesday, March 6, to fund the project in accordance with the board of financeâ€™s approval.
Then, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, the board of finance will have to revise the capital improvement plan and approve the funding as well.
On March 6, the town meeting will decide if the project is approved. Rivers will have to submit an application the day after to the state Office of Policy Management to utilize the LoCIP funds.
Gardner said the state gives out the LoCIP funds annually and, this year, Windham will receive $500,000.
He said, if construction begins in April, it should be done by the end of July.