Barkhamsted Elementary plans new playscape
By JULIE WEISBERG – Staff Reporter
BARKHAMSTED — Town officials hope to secure funding through the state’s Small Town Economic Assistance (STEAP) grant program to move forward with the construction of a new playscape at Barkhamsted Elementary School.
In addition to the playscape, which would be handicapped accessible, the town also hopes to fund drainage improvements on the elementary school’s grounds.
“The school has been trying to figure out how to do these things for a number of years,” said Barkhamsted First Selectman Don Stein during the selectmen’s meeting July 12.
According to Stein, water runoff from the building’s roof often leads to a large pooling of water near the soccer field on the school’s grounds, which can at times reach up to 2 feet deep.
“This presents a safety concern,” he said.
The town is hoping to build a drainage pond at the site where the roof runoff gathers on the ground during heavy rains.
“It would be the equivalent of an underground lake,” Stein said of the drain.
The STEAP grant program, administered through the Office of Policy and Management, provides financial assistance for economic development, community conservation and quality-of-life projects to Connecticut’s smaller towns.
To be eligible for a grant, a town must have a population of fewer than 30,000 residents, not be designated as a distressed municipality or a public investment community and not have an urban center.
Stein said the application proposing the school improvement projects was already completed and would be passed along to the state in time to meet the July 20 deadline.
He added, however, that with the state’s ongoing fiscal problems, there is some uncertainty as to the overall level of funding that will be available for the grants, since the program is financially supported exclusively through bonding.
Last year, Barkhamsted was awarded a $100,000 STEAP grant for improvements to Riverton Park, including the installation of new public restrooms.
The State Bond Commission approved a total of $20 million in 2009 STEAP grants for 100 Connecticut towns, including Winchester, Colebrook, Hartland, New Hartford and Norfolk.
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