From the First Selectman’s Desk
We got a $500,000 STEAP Grant to build the Strong Center Field Houses in late February, but if you go down to the Surf Club today, you’ll see that they’re not done yet. This is disappointing to me because my goal was to have them done in time for our first home game. I want to let you know just what is happening and why there are delays.
This is kind of technical, so try to stay awake. The grant is awarded by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), but is administered by the Department of Energy and Economic Development (DEEP). We necessarily have to wait for them to give us the go-ahead before we can start the project.
That being said, after getting the grant for Strong Center, we decided to make good use of our time and went out to bid for the construction of the two Field Houses. One of my stipulations was that we would not consider any bid that came in over $500,000 as that is all we had for the project. Unfortunately, we did not receive any bids on the first round, and we were forced to cancel that round and re-bid the project. In the meantime, we were still waiting for DEEP to process our paperwork.
The results of the second round of bidding got us a successful bidder who could do the project within our budget. I was anxious to get working, but there are other stipulations in the grant that have to be satisfied. The technical name for this in government as “Red Tape”. All the stipulations aside, we were looking at starting in September, with a probable finish in the spring. This was July and we still hadn’t heard from DEEP confirming that we could start.
Late last week, we found out what the holdup has been. The Attorney General had been rewriting the agreements that govern the grants and had only just given DEEP the approval to proceed. With that issue resolved, we can now finalize our agreements with the contractor and move the project forward.
In the meantime, the pillars are being built and the Plaza is coming together. There will be two 4’ x’8 renditions of the field houses that will be mounted at the site of each field house so you will be able to see that progress is being made. Even with the best intentions, you can’t always move things along at the pace you wish.