What survived the Greenwich BET budget committee? Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, yes. Streetscape OG, no.

GREENWICH — Funding to begin work on improvements to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park is one of several capital projects set to gain approval for inclusion in the 2022-23 municipal budget.

The Estimates and Taxation Council’s budget committee, after a month of meetings with city departments, began voting on its recommended budget on Monday. Park improvements, a priority of first coach Fred Camillo, got an affirmative vote despite the committee cutting its allocation in half.

Camillo had requested $100,000 to pay for design work and options to relocate a Parks and Recreation building blocking waterfront views. The committee instead voted to recommend full BET support of $50,000 for the project.

The post had been eliminated entirely from last year’s budget.

“I think (we should support) cleaning up the area and the waterfront view, no matter what happens next,” Budget Committee Chair Leslie Tarkington said. “This is now a $1.3 million study. … It’s a very precious waterfront. We have to start. We’ve been postponing this for a few years now. »

The $50,000 would be the first step in a multi-year process currently expected to cost more than $11 million in fiscal year 2024-25.

Park money was the subject of a long debate on Monday, with several members of the four-person budget committee offering their own proposals.

Nisha Arora, a member of the budget committee, voted for the allocation, but said she preferred the project to be privately funded.

“I really support the first selectman in redeveloping this area, but I don’t think we should have to spend our taxpayers’ money redeveloping it,” Arora said. “It really is a very attractive region for private capital. It will come.”

Arora suggested the area could be opened up to waterfront retail businesses and restaurants on city land. Tarkington noted that commercial development is not part of the plan currently proposed for the area.

Budget committee member Leslie Moriarty abstained in the vote for the park money, which passed by a 3-0 vote, saying, “There are other significant competing demands in the city. We’re not in a position where we can support that now.

The budget committee will resume on Tuesday with a look at the Board of Education’s capital requests.

On several occasions during Monday’s meeting, the committee found itself in a 2-2 deadlock over proposed cuts or changes to the budget. While these changes won’t receive a recommendation, they could be reintroduced when the full BET meets later this month on the budget.

Deadlocks occurred in voting over $300,000 for traffic and pedestrian safety improvements in Byram, $500,000 for downtown neighborhood improvements in Glenville and $2.8 million for improvements at the Greenwich Avenue intersection similar to the Elm Street emergency exits that were installed last year.

A public hearing to give the floor to the inhabitants is scheduled for March 28.

BET will hold a workshop on March 29 to discuss the budget and propose changes. This workshop will be open to members of the public, but they will not be able to ask questions or make comments.

The full BET will vote on the budget on March 31.

The committee voted unanimously to cut $500,000 from the proposed budget that had been allocated for sidewalk work along Sound Beach Avenue in Old Greenwich at Station Drive South, at the intersection with Arcadia Road and West End Avenue and half a block between West End Avenue and Old Greenwich The School.

The committee also voted to cut $500,000 allocated to the ‘Reimagine Greenwich’ project to purchase new exterior barriers to allow for the expansion of outdoor dining along Greenwich Avenue. The project was also cut last year.

The budget committee reviewed the operating budget for the Greenwich Fire Department. A motion by committee member Laura Erickson to add $388,196 to pay for projected future overtime costs was blocked, but the committee added additional funds for volunteer departments.

“I think we have an underutilized volunteer force and that’s what we hear from them,” Arora said. “On the other hand, firefighters ask us for extra overtime for their careers. I think there is a bit of a lag. »

The committee approved adding $165 to the allocation to the Round Hill Volunteer Fire Company and $377 to the Banksville Volunteer Fire Company. In both cases, it was a 0.25% increase in their budgets.

“It’s not a lot of money but that’s the principle,” Tarkington said, noting that she wants to see more use of the city’s volunteer firefighters.

Arora praised Fire Chief Joseph McHugh for committing to using volunteers, but Erickson and Moriarty argued that overtime money would be needed.

“The fire department has (already) followed up with a spreadsheet and analysis of their overtime needs,” Erickson said. “Given their current vacancies and accumulated vacation time and the need to cover those vacation days as well as training, I think they are asking for what they need.”

Another addition to the budget was $75,000 for the Planning and Zoning Department to do a “comprehensive” study involving all necessary municipal departments on downtown traffic and parking.

The motion was put forward by Moriarty, who said the previous planning and zoning study had not been updated for some time and was needed with all the proposed town center improvements, for potential works at the Horseneck and Island Beach parking lots and for the Greenwich Avenue intersection. improvements.

“There is also a lot of potential development in the area that is planned,” Moriarty said. “I think we’ve heard from department heads that they would welcome a much more comprehensive study than has been done in the past.”

Originally the motion was for $100,000 for a study to be carried out in the coach’s first office, but Tarkington said she felt the appropriate department was planning and zoning. She also said she believed a study should cost no more than $50,000.

“Sometimes we spend money to save money, so I will support that,” Tarkington said.

Moriarty agreed to have more information for the full BET when he holds his vote later in the month. Arora abstained in the vote, which passed 3-0, but left the door open for her support ahead of the full BET when she heard more about the scope of the study, she said. declared.

“We need to have a good idea of ​​exactly what we’re asking for and where it fits.” Arora said. “For the questions of how much and where, we need to do some extra homework on this.”

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