Since Scott Giegerich, Steve Gernhardt, and I were elected to the Board of Selectmen in November 2011, we have tackled capital projects that have been on the table and discussed for years. These projects, for the most part, had been put off to the point where, in some cases, it was costing our community more money to not take action.
First and foremost on our list was the Department of Police Services project. After the floods of March 2010, the town rented space on Custom Drive for its Police Department. The town entered into a three-year lease, which expired on June 30, 2013. The rent for those three years was $36,000, $36,000, and $48,000. Each additional year's rent after the three-year term would be at $166,000, which is what we currently pay. That is why, with some urgency, we purchased the former SNET building.
Applying $166,000 toward our new building makes a lot more sense. A new police station had been discussed for many years, but continually stalled for a variety of reasons. In April 2015, we will open a building that will serve this community for several generations.
When we decided to go to the capital markets for funds, the decision was made, with interest rates at historical lows, to resolve other infrastructure issues that had lingered for nearly a decade. The Goodwin School currently has windows that are circa mid-1960s. The Board of Education has requested funding for this project for at least 10 years. This project will be completed in summer 2015. The Old Saybrook Middle School roof has outlived its useful life and has been leaking water all over the building for at least the last seven years. The roof replacement will be completed, also in summer 2015. Both of these upgrades will significantly improve our school environments for students in pre-k through 8th grade. (The Old Saybrook High School previously had a major renovation several years ago.)
In addition to these improvements, we upgraded the high school track, tennis courts, and football field. These are not only improvements that our students will enjoy, but upgrades that many adult members of our community will enjoy as they hit the tennis ball or walk and run. These facilities were old and needed investment.
On a separate track, but nonetheless percolating the entire time, was the long-awaited purchase of The Preserve. Sometimes the timing of certain events is not within one's control and The Preserve is a good example. For 15 years the town has attempted to acquire this piece of property, yet timing and purchase price, along with appropriate funding partners, did not line up. However, one big financial crisis in 2007 followed by a Lehman Brothers bankruptcy led us to a referendum on July 8, whereby the town enthusiastically supported the purchase of this property. We will likely acquire the title in December.
From a needs perspective, Old Saybrook is in excellent shape for the next 10 to 20 years. In addition, we are building a healthy capital fund that, with good planning, should take care of any unexpected or necessary major capital needs with available budget funds. Sound infrastructure supports our residents and helps us grow our local economy. Now that's a capital idea.