FAIRFIELD, Conn. – More than $5 million worth of repairs to town property along Fairfield’s shoreline damaged by Hurricane Sandy got their final approval Monday night.
The $5.2 million package covers 24 projects recommended by the Department of Public Works after the storm hit last year. The work will cover repairs to town-owned buildings on Long Island Sound, restoration at beaches at marinas and repaving along Fairfield Beach Road.
Finance Director Robert Mayer expects the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover 75 percent of the repair costs, bringing Fairfield’s share down to about $1.3 million. The federal government’s aid works on a reimbursement basis, so the town will have to spend the full $5.2 million first.
But the town should be wary of taking federal money for some of the projects, Representative Town Meeting member Edward Bateson. The government could force the town to open beaches to more people. Currently out-of-town visitors can only park at Jennings and Penfield beaches, with higher fees. The town’s other three coastal beaches require a sticker for all cars.
“If it’s going to change that, I would not support accepting that federal money,” Bateson said. “I would like to make sure we know the strings attached to that federal money before we accept it.”
Fairfield’s government has already spent $3.6 million in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in overtime for town employees and equipment costs. FEMA is expected to repay 75 percent of those costs as well.
The largest portion of the work will be done at Penfield Pavilion, which saw damage to its footings and decks from flooding. The 2-year-old pavilion will be raised to meet FEMA's new flood standards, which go into effect this May, Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo said Monday night.
The projects approved Monday night also include repairs to concession stands and Sasco and Southport Beaches and the South Benson Fishing Pier. The town will dredge extra sediment that Sandy washed into South Benson Marina, Southport Harbor and the Pine Creek inlet. The rest of the money will go toward repaving Fairfield Beach Road and shoring up Fairfield’s flood control measures on the coast.
The Representative Town Meeting approved the plans Monday night. Work is expected to start this spring.