$35.3M targets infrastructure; Manager asserts upgrades, rehab, repairs are in line with city's Five Point Financial Plan.


Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER - City Manager Michael V. O'Brien has recommended $35.3 million worth of capital improvements, with significant investments planned for street and sidewalk repairs, the rehabilitation of public school buildings and upgrades to parks.

Mr. O'Brien said his capital improvement plan calls for a tax-levy-supported borrowing cap of $18.8 million for fiscal 2012, which begins July 1. He said the program is consistent with the city's Five Point Financial Plan and meets critical infrastructure needs, including additional investments in public school buildings. The manager added that the capital improvement program also reflects necessary reinvestments to address the city's aging vehicle fleet, equipment and tools - ranging from police cruisers and fire apparatus, to snow blowers and lawn movers.

Highlights of the capital program include:

$5.2 million for improvements to public school buildings and facilities. Of that, $3.5 million will go toward energy efficiency upgrades, particularly to heating and cooling systems. That is part of an agreement the city has with Honeywell International Inc. that will eventually provide $26.6 million in energy efficiency improvements to 92 municipal and public school facilities.

"Implementation of these upgrades will begin this summer," Mr. O'Brien said. "These are critical investments to improve heating and cooling systems, lighting fixtures, insulation, air-sealing and water conservation, gas heat conversions, and energy management control."

$13 million for the repair and resurfacing of streets and sidewalks. This will supplement the $30.7 million street and sidewalk program that was initiated this fiscal year. Mr. O'Brien said the fiscal 2012 appropriation will address some major areas of concern, including slope deterioration along parts of North Lake Avenue and the significant backlog of city-owned bridge rehabilitation work that needs to be done. Also, some of the money will be used for streetscape enhancements in the Canal Business District, Shrewsbury Street and Grafton Street areas.

$7.85 million for upgrades to parks and open space. That amount includes $4 million the city will receive from CSX Transportation Inc. for...

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