Greenwich RTM approves funding for Central repairs, civic center increases with ‘new normal in costs’

GREENWICH — Money for emergency repairs at Central Middle School and more funding for a new Eastern Greenwich Civic Center easily passed the Representative Town Meeting on Monday night.

The RTM approved $1.611 million for Central’s repairs and an additional $4.04 million for the new civic center construction, which is expected to begin later this year. The RTM also approved bonding the additional civic center money.

There was no debate or strong opposition, but some members expressed concerns about the need for more money for the new civic center.

“Most of the increase, we were told, was due to the cost of steel, which has been problematic for a number of months, even years, due to supply chain issues,” said RTM member Katherine LoBalbo, chair of its Parks and Recreation Committee. “There were also higher costs for exterior stone, soil and landscaping. Generally, there has been an increase since the time the project was funded through the time the project was bid.”

The new 35,418-square-foot civic center will be built on the site of the current building. Construction was originally budgeted at $21.5 million, but proposals came in higher than expected when the project went out to bid.

Lucia Jansen, chair of the RTM’s Budget Overview Committee, said she expects other capital projects will also come in with higher bids. She cited inflation and the cost of labor as well as supply chain issues. It already occurred with construction of a new Greenwich Emergency Medical Service station on King Street, she said.

“This could be a sign of a new normal in all project costs, particularly with the Russian/Ukrainian war crisis,” Jansen said. “It is concerning that virtually all of the fiscal year 23 capital projects are valued with pre-COVID prices and does not reflect current economic conditions.”

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