The New Canaan Fire Department briefly sounded the horns on Wednesday night in celebration of the Town Council's approval of $610,000 for a new pumper truck — a long-standing capital item which was cut from last year's town budget.
Assistant Chief Jack Hennessey said the department will next send out a Request For Proposal (RFP) to firms which design and build custom fire trucks. The department needs to have the new pumper truck custom built due to the space constraints of the firehouse.
"We hope to send out an RFP in November," Hennessey said, adding that the department hopes to receive the new pumper truck by early 2014.
The Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance approved a "special appropriation" for the new pumper truck in September. It will replace Engine 1, one of two primary pumper trucks the department operates, which in turn will become a "backup" pumper.
The Town Council also approved $41,000 for a replacement sidewalk and additional on-the-street parking in front East School.
Director of Public Works Michael Pastore said the sidewalk project involves replacing the current crumbling sidewalk along Little Brook Road with about 250 feet of new concrete sidewalk and granite curbing.
Principal Bunny Potts told the council that the sidewalk in front of the school is a safety issue "because it is coming apart."
"We have a lot of foot traffic on that sidewalk on a daily basis — and we haven't even hit the Halloween Parade yet," she said.
The project also includes the construction of four to five additional parallel parking spaces along Little Brook Road, where there is a grass strip that separates the school's parking lot from the road.
Pastore said parents sometimes hop the curb at that location and park their cars on the grass, straddling the curb.
"People park up on that grass strip now," he said. "It's about a six foot wide strip, but the first three feet are mud."
There is already a small paved area where about four cars can parallel park on the side of the road.
Principal Potts told the council that the school is desperately in need of additional parking.
"I would advocate giving us as many parking spaces as you can," she said. "Our school is larger now and we also house the special education vans and driver's cars, so we really need the parking."
Potts said creating the parking spaces would improve the sight lines for drivers trying to turn out of the school's driveways onto Little Brook Road because when cars are parked on the grass they are partly in the road, obstructing views.
Pastore said the town got five bids for the sidewalk project, with the lowest coming in at about $31,000 and the highest coming in at about $42,000. He said the Board of Selectmen approved $41,000 for the project, including the standard 15% contingency.
Pastore said when the DPW put the sidewalk project out to bid it requested alternate bids for both asphalt and concrete sidewalks — however the low bidder offered to do concrete for the same price as asphalt, he said.
Town Council member Roger Williams told Pastore he would like to see the project cost reduced by eliminating the parking. He pointed out that building the small parking area would add about $9,000 to what was originally supposed to be only a sidewalk safety project.
"Let's fix what we started off doing, which is the sidewalk, and rather than add the parking, let's be careful of the dollars," he told Pastore, however there was no motion to remove $9,000 from the project budget.
There was also some debate as to whether the project should include granite or asphalt curbing.
Williams said he learned that "asphalt is about $4 per foot whereas granite is about $44 per foot, so it's a pretty significant difference."
Pastore said although granite curbing costs more, it's well worth it because of its durability. He said the granite curbing accounts for about $6,000 of the project cost.
Town Council member Tom O'Dea said after the winter he often sees asphalt curbs around town which have been damaged by the snow plows. He asked Pastore if granite was more economical to maintain due to this issue.
Pastore said asphalt curbing very often needs to be replaced in the spring — particularly in parking lots, side streets, driveways and other areas where plow operators cannot easily determine where curbing is under the snow. Granite curbing, however, is very seldom damaged by plows.
"The granite is expensive... but it's forever," he said.
The Town Council unanimously approved both appropriations in separate actions.