Harwinton receives $325,000 STEAP grant for emergency operations center [Register Citizen]

May 27, 2014

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By Ryan Flynn, Register Citizen

HARWINTON >> A $325,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant has been awarded to the town of Harwinton to assist in the construction of a municipal emergency operations center, a $1.3 million project that has been in the works for over two decades.

“The award of the grant reflects a lot of hard work by not only myself but the governor’s office and state legislators who helped and assisted in the process,” First Selectman Michael Criss said Tuesday. “We all recognize the importance of emergency operations and safety in our community. These funds obviously will assist in offsetting the town’s cost of the project.”

The facility will be completed “hopefully” by early fall, Criss said. Criss, along with members of PAC Group, Thomaston Savings Bank, and the building committee broke ground on the new Emergency Services building in March. The Harwinton Board of Selectman approved the purchase of the property, formerly a CITGO gas station, in October 2010.

It will be located at 166 Burlington Road, next to the Harwinton firehouse. The planning and design work for the project has already been completed and approved.

“It’s very exciting,” Criss said. “I’m very happy for my administration and the hard work that we did on our end to try to secure this grant. These application processes take a lot of time and a lot of resources. We’re just very happy that the hard work paid off.”

Residents approved the $1.3 million cost of the facility during a public hearing in April, despite still being $325,000 short of the total. The town received a $970,000 building grant in 2010, but has failed to garner any funding since then. That money was made up of a public safety grant and two STEAP grants. The additional $325,000 in grant money received this week now, finally, makes up the difference.

The grant will help fund the purchase of some “much needed” equipment for the emergency operations center, Criss said. The facility will help the community by streamlining the town’s emergency processes, Criss said, allowing for more efficient and up-to-date communication with residents in the case of an emergency.

“This facility is critical to the future of emergency services in the town of Harwinton,” Criss said. “It was long overdue and needed for a very long time.”

Harwinton is one of 27 towns in Connecticut that received STEAP grant funding this week. These grants are earmarked for different economic development, community conservation and quality-of-life projects.

“This grant will provide much needed support to help Harwinton expand its emergency operations,” state Sen. Kevin Witkos said in a release. “The safety of residents is a top priority for all town officials and state legislators. With a new emergency operations center, the town can provide additional support during the most difficult and trying times. From dangerous weather events to hazmat situations, Harwinton’s emergency operations team is there to protect those in need, and this funding will further enhance our town’s ability to protect and support all residents.”

Criss thanked Gov. Dannel Malloy and his staff for “their assistance and guidance through the application process,” as well as state Rep. John Piscopo.
“This was a big win for Harwinton and its residents,” Criss said.