’It’s Really Not OK’: Finance Board Chair Comes Down on Spending ‘Contingency’ on Police Station Renovation

The chair of the Board of Finance this week called for the team overseeing the extensive renovation of the New Canaan Police Department to tighten its belt with respect to spending a total of $2.6 million budgeted for contingencies on the project. 

That figure—$700,000 in contingency for Shelton-based Turner Construction, which is providing construction services, plus $1.9 million for the town—only applies to the recently set $20 million guaranteed maximum price for the South Avenue project, not for the full $29 million price tag that also includes soft costs such as insurance and creating a temporary police headquarters, according to finance board Chair Todd Lavieri. “I really can’t impress upon you enough how important that is not to be spent,” Lavieri told members of the Police Department Building Committee during the Board’s special meeting, held Tuesday night at Town Hall and via videoconference

“We have to be careful that that’s not really kind of code for ‘it’s budgeted for’ ” he continued. “It’s not budgeted for .. and we can have this meeting again in October, and I can bring you the deck that we went through, and it was a $17 million renovation, and it’s now $29 million. I’ve just got to send the message: It’s not there to be spent.

Police Station Renovation: GMP for Construction Set at $20 Million

The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday approved an amendment to the town’s contract with the construction manager of the New Canaan Police Department renovation that sets the guaranteed maximum price or “GMP” of the project at $20,235,000. 

Another $5 million has been budgeted for soft costs, with about $2 million each for a temporary police headquarters downtown during the renovation and contingencies, bringing the overall cost of the project to about $29 million, according to Joe Zagarenski, senior engineer in the Department of Public Works. The total represents the same figure that members of the Police Department Building Committee presented to town funding bodies in July, Zagarenski told the selectmen during their regular meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. 

“It’s the same project, it’s just further developed and competitively bid now,” Zagarenski said. The appointed Committee has put forth a project to retain the historic architecture of the 1927-built red brick building at 174 South Ave.—originally built as the first New Canaan High School—while fully renovating it. The project also will see the addition on the rear of the structure replaced with a new one for parking and with a sallyport and jail cells. Officials have referred to the project as the renovate-as-new or “Town Hall option,” as a similar project had been done about eight years ago with the expansion and renovation there. 

Officials have said the project could start around Thanksgiving of this year and finish in the fall of 2025.

Committee: Renovation of Police Station Could Start Around Thanksgiving, Wrap Up in Fall of ‘25

Work for the widely anticipated, estimated $27.5 million renovation of the New Canaan Police Department should get underway around Thanksgiving and wrap up in the fall of 2025, so long as other moving parts fall into place, officials said last week. The key to the project’s timing is preparing the longtime home of the Board of Education downtown as a temporary police headquarters, members of the Police Department Building Committee told the Town Council during its regular meeting Wednesday. For that to happen, the school board must move out its Locust Avenue offices and into a newly town-owned Elm Street building, Committee members said. “It really does matter,” Committee Chair Bill Walbert told the Town Council at its regular meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “If we don’t get the Board of Ed out, into their new space, and they sign off on their new space, then we can’t fit out that Locust Avenue space for the police.