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Town moves forward in reaching goals

On January 31, 2011, Garry Brumback was hired by the Town of Southington as just its second town manager since 1966 when the town adopted the council-manager form of government; with a full-time town manager reporting to an elected town council.

A recent conversation with Brumback highlighted the town’s accomplishments of the past two and a half years, particularly in areas designated as priority objectives after an initial evaluation of the town’s operations, infrastructure, communications, technology, customer service, and financial planning and management.

Brumback was well-versed in depth of detail in areas discussed. Commenting on the town’s most positive achievements, and disappointments, he said, “Far and away I believe the positives have exceeded the negatives. Among the positives I have to rank as No. 1, the technology upgrades and resident outreach, and No. 2, the road improvement referendum and projects. The only real negative has been the challenges with the waste water treatment plant with the breakdown of the digesters and the slow progress on the facilities plan. They are moving forward but have taken much longer than anyone had hoped.”

Regarding infrastructure work since the approval of last year’s $11 million capital improvements referendum, Brumback said, “Progress has been adequate, though not as great as had been hoped for because sub-surface and infrastructure obstacles had been underestimated. But, the goal is to approach road rebuilding and maintenance correctly, not just fast. We did not ignore the subsurface issues, but attended to them properly so as to provide 20 years plus utilization. It’s important to note that nothing in past memory approaches the comprehensive scope of this project. This winter, when we’re not in a physical construction mode, we’ll be using video and similar sub-structural equipment for optimum readiness for work in the spring.”

As to other projects, Brumback indicated that all of the cracked sealing on roads has been completed on 36 different streets and that the work is three-quarters finished in milling and overlaying of significant road projects for this year.

By the end of 2013, he said, finish layers and striping will all be done on these roads. Belleview Avenue progress is near completion and Marion Avenue will be next.

A data tracking system of ongoing road construction, from start to completion and inspection, is a great compass for managing progress. Highway operations have continued on schedule through construction, essentially unhampered by road renewal, Brumback said.

“We did mobilize some sub-contractors to minimize disruptions,” he added.

By the end of 2014, roads identified this winter will be completed.

“The completed project will be a good start towards our continued capital improvement goals as we’ll be ready to show the investment was wisely- and well-used. We’ll then present to the town council and, with their approval, a referendum to the voters for the second construction iteration of the plan,” Brumback said. The target date for the referendum is November 2015.

The new municipal center, completed a year ago, is functioning efficiently. Located on the lower level are the town’s planning & zoning, economic development, engineering and building departments as well as a spacious new meeting chamber off the entry foyer.

The upper level houses the board of education and school superintendent’s administrative offices, plus the town’s health and youth services departments.

At town hall, remaining departments have been situated to effect more efficient operations. Refitting needs are almost finished with the exception of some window, air-conditioning and painting work, awaiting a grant.

In summary, the conversion of the old North Center School to a brand new facility has enhanced efficiency and relieved congestion at town hall, while providing needed space for the BOE and superintendent’s administrative offices.

Stay tuned for part two of this report in an upcoming edition of The Citizen.

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