Price of Trumbull veterans center jumps by at least $1 million

Artist renderings of the new home of the Trumbull VFW/American Legion planned for construction at 1 Veterans Circle in Trumbull, Conn. on Thursday, January 09, 2020.

Artist renderings of the new home of the Trumbull VFW/American Legion planned for construction at 1 Veterans Circle in Trumbull, Conn. on Thursday, January 09, 2020.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

TRUMBULL — The construction of a new Trumbull Veterans and First Responders Center could be as much as $1.5 million more than originally expected, according to Ray Baldwin, the chair of the project’s building committee.

Baldwin, also a former Trumbull first selectman, told the town council at its meeting Monday that design work for the 5,500-square feet facility, to be built at 1 Veterans Circle at Kaatz Pond, is complete.

A little more than a month ago, the state Bond Commission approved $1.5 million in funding for the project. At that time, the project was estimated to cost a total of $3 million. But that’s changed, Baldwin said.

“The bad news is, because of the supply chain issues and construction costs escalating throughout the nation, we were advised by our architect to go out and do a revised estimate on the cost of the project, which is now estimated to be somewhere in the area of $4 to $4.5 million,” Baldwin said.

He said that the plan was for none of that cost to come from the town.

“I’m not here tonight to ask for any money,” Baldwin said. “I said from the beginning that the charge of this committee would be to go out and raise the money for this project and until every avenue has been exhausted both for the private sector federal and state funding, we will not be back before this council for any more money.”

In addition to hearing Baldwin’s presentation, the council also voted to authorize First Selectman Vicki Tesoro to accept the $1.5 million in state bond funds and to apply for $3 million in federal funding for the center. Both of those measures were passed by unanimous consent.

Trumbull Economic and Community Development Director Rina Bakalar spoke at Monday’s meeting about both the state and federal funding.

She said she was applying for the federal funding through the 2023 Member Directed Community Project Program/Congressionally Directed Spending Program. If the town receives the $3 million in federal funding, that, combined with the state money that has already been approved, should cover the cost of the veterans project, even at the higher price tag Baldwin cited.

Bakalar said she applied for federal funding for the center last year, but it wasn’t one of the projects selected. She said last year, only 10 projects were selected for funding, but this year 15 projects will be selected, so the odds are better.

In addition to authorizing the town’s efforts to move ahead with getting state and federal funding for the Veterans and First Responders Center, Town Council Chair Ashley Gaudiano stated that “it might be worth us as a council submitting a letter in support of this funding.”

The new facility would be at the site of the town’s former veterans facility. In 2017, the building was condemned due to a failed foundation.

In February 2019, Tesoro and the Trumbull Town Council appointed a community building committee to guide the vision, design and funding plan.

The center will not only be a meeting place for veterans, but also provide access to a variety of services and resources — including healthcare and workforce training — for the region’s 30,000 veterans.