Report by Paula Antolini, July 25, 2022, 7:27PM EDT
Tomorrow in a referendum vote, Bethel residents will vote to approve, or not approve, “not more than $1.4 million” to complete the Bethel Police Department Firing Range, which includes purchasing the needed specialized equipment, and the installation, to finish the project.
“The Town of Bethel completed construction of the new Police Department Headquarters facility in 2018, postponing the procurement and installation of firing range equipment to a later date. The current Training Range Project continues and completes the new Police Department facility by providing firing range equipment, installing a dedicated HVAC system, and completing all ceiling, wall and flooring finishes, as well as mechanical, electrical, and sprinkler systems in the firing range shell building,” reads the “Bethel Police Department Training Range Project – Project Scope.” (View complete report below, near bottom of page.)
In December 2015, Bethel voters approved funding the new $13.5M Bethel Police Station, an amount that was reduced from $14.1M from a referendum vote that did not go through about a year earlier.
Now in 2022, Bethel voters are asked to approve another $1.4M.
The mailed notice, which most residents received this past weekend or today, read:
“There will be a machine vote a machine vote on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, between the hours of 6:00am – 8:00pm for the Police Department Firing Range. Bethel’s voting districts have been modified by the State Legislature based on the 2020 Census. Those registered voters who have been assigned to a different polling place have been mailed a letter notifying them of their new polling place. If you are unsure where you should report to vote, please contact the Registrar of Voters at 203-794-8516 or the Town Clerk’s Office at 203-794-8505 as soon as possible.
“Additional information can be found at https://bethel-ct.gov/departments/registrar-of-voters
“If you will be out of town on the day of the vote, you may obtain an absentee ballot from the Town Clerk’s Office located at the Hurgin Municipal Center.”
View copy of mailed notice here:
Note: There does not seem to be an official “public notice” online or in print, for the July 26th referendum notice, as is required. We contacted officials and are waiting for a response. In fact, we made many phone calls to just get a copy of the ballot.
View ballot here:
In 2015, Knickerbocker estimated the time frame to build the new facility at approximately 2 years, “Depending on whether the engineering drawings are ready,” he said, “Right now what they have are conceptual designs, it will take 6 to 8 months to actually do the blueprints. Then the construction firm, it will take several months to bid specs, for all different several sub categories, to get the bid out, I expect site prep late Spring and construction by late summer, so we’re on our way.”
When costs went over, Bethel First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker made quite a few comments in a local forum on social media on March 28th about the Bethel budget and process. The Bethel Advocate article dated March 30, 2018 entitled, “Bethel First Selectman Knickerbocker Blames New Bethel Police Station Cost Overage on Market Changes” reads, in part, “Knickerbocker labels residents as ‘finger pointers‘ and their comments as ‘political spin and opportunism.’ He said no one is in charge of a project and it is “human nature” to want to blame someone when things go wrong, and “want someone to hang from the nearest tree” he said, and called it a “nonsense blame-game.”
Knickerbocker asked, “Were the estimates provided to town voters inaccurate in the first place, or did market conditions change that much over the past two years?“
He blames the overage on “bad luck” and “market changes” and compares it to when the same thing happened during the Bethel library project.
Knickerbocker stated, “I extend the following invitations to all finger-pointers: please, if you think you can do better, by all means, send in your name and we’ll put you on the next vacant seat on the building committee.”
Read more here:
The issue seems to be about a leaking foundation in the area of the unfinished firing range, causing water to pour in and extreme delays in completion.
In November 2019, the News Times wrote, after speaking to Bethel town officials, “The town is threatening the performance bond money to the company that built the $14.4 million station over unresolved problems with the range and other items that need to be fixed at the new headquarters, which officers moved into last October.” … “The town attorney plans to send a letter to Downes Construction Company demanding a date for when the leaking will be fixed.” … “We paid for a building and that section of the building does not work properly,” First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said. “It needs to be corrected.”
“The time of studying and pointing fingers back and forth is over,” Knickerbocker said, according to the News Times.
Read more about the project below:
Bethel Police Department
Training Range Project
The Town of Bethel completed construction of the new Police Department Headquarters facility in 2018, postponing the procurement and installation of firing range equipment to a later date. The current Training Range Project continues and completes the new Police Department facility by providing firing range equipment, installing a dedicated HVAC system, and completing all ceiling, wall and flooring finishes, as well as mechanical, electrical, and sprinkler systems in the firing range shell building.
The original project architect, Jacunski Humes Architects, LLC has been retained to provide architectural and engineering services in support of the equipment installation project. The firing range equipment vendor was selected after a competitive bid process, and the most qualified bidder, after review of the proposals by the Public Site and Building Commission and the Police Department, was determined to be Action Target. The Town intends to eventually retain a construction manager to implement building modifications required to accommodate the firing range equipment.
The project scope has been thoroughly reviewed by Bethel Police Department personnel and includes all necessary components to serve the Police Department for many years to come.
Project Work To Date
The selected equipment vendor, Action Target has provided a comprehensive proposal for the
equipment package and has begun their internal design process in support of the fabrication of the custom equipment package. The architects have produced construction documents for the associated construction work and a comprehensive construction cost estimate has been produced, based on those drawings.
Firing Range Equipment Vendor
Action Target Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Safety Training Solutions headquartered in Provo, Utah. Founded in 1986, the company started by creating a pneumatic turning target system for the Provo Police Department training curriculum. From there, Action Target began working with armor steel and creating innovative designs resulting in unique, patented technology and today provides product and services to the law enforcement, commercial and military markets. Action Target has installations in over 2, 000 active ranges in all 50 states. Globally, Action Target has active ranges in over 50 countries. In Connecticut, Action Target recently completed a range equipment installation for the Greenwich Police Department.
Action Target is also able to offer the Town of Bethel a range of ongoing operations and maintenance services after the range is completed. Action Target can provide recycling and disposal programs, range and trap cleaning, 24/ 7 customer support, and an extensive inventory of consumable products Action Target has had no claims, disputes, or arbitration proceedings during the past five years and has not been debarred from entering into government contracts.
Preconstruction Project Budget
A pre-project budget has been developed that includes all costs associated with the completion of the Training Range Project. The attached budget considers professional fees, permitting and other project fees, the cost of the construction work, and all equipment specified for the range installation. The budget includes both contractor and owner’ s contingencies to cover unforeseen changes in the scope of the work. The budget also includes projected escalation costs to account for pricing increases that may occur prior to locking in contract or purchase order award. It is the Town’ s intent to execute contracts for the work at the earliest opportunity to mitigate potential cost increases. The Public Site and Building Commission will monitor the project closely and make decisions considering the most effective use of taxpayer funds with the goal of completing the project within the approved budget.
If the project is approved at referendum, the Town will issue a purchase order to Action Target which commences their 5-month fabrication process. During that fabrication period, the Town will select a contractor for the supplemental work, and subcontractors will be engaged thru a competitive bidding process. Installation of the firing range equipment and completion of the construction are projected for the first quarter of 2023.
In 2021, govtech.com wrote, “Bethel, Conn., Police Ask for $125K to Upgrade Software.” … “Bethel police are seeking $125,500 to upgrade the department’s current computer-aided dispatch and records management system software. The article, dated October 11, 2021, reads, “The proposed upgrades have been in the capital plan for ‘a long time,’ First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said Tuesday, when the Board of Selectmen voted to forward the request to the finance board for consideration.”