GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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January 10, 2013

Rockport weighs capital priorities

ROCKPORT — From an estimated $13 million seawall in front of Long Beach to new carpeting in Rockport schools, the Board of Selectmen and other town officials are sifting through a bundle of capital improvement requests as they prepare a budget for the coming 2014 fiscal year.

Wally Hess, chairman of the Capital Improvement Planning Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, presented the requests to the Selectmen during their Tuesday night meeting.

Due to the scope, cost and uncertainty of the project, the CIPC and Finance Committee recommended not to fund a seawall along Long Beach for the next fiscal year, although Hess said it remains a priority.

Even if the project was funded over 10 years, it would still cost the town more than $1 million annually, he said. The total amount was allocated to fiscal year 2015 as a placeholder. However, 59 of the 97 requests were recommended for inclusion over the next fiscal year, with a majority of the remaining requests pegged for a five-year plan.

About $3.8 million in requests were allocated in the draft improvement presentation, cutting back from a total of $31 million in overall requests from various town departments, officials said.

With $300,000 projected in free cash carrying to fiscal 2014, which begins July 1, Hess acknowledged the shortfalls and growing needs throughout the town.

”Clearly, a larger stream of revenue is needed to accomplish the five-year plan,” he said.

Hess said the remainder of the $3.8 million in requests would be funded through loans and borrowed money.

Because he said it was a safety hazard, Hess and the committees recommended a $100,000 project to redo ground work on the Rockport Elementary School playground. He said that, when on a site visit, there were large rubber chunks sticking out from the playground, posing a safety hazard for students.

Hess said the rubber molding was not properly installed in 2009. Selectwoman Frances Fleming raised the question of holding the initial company responsible, but Hess said the ground work had a one-year warranty.

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