will need a generator or a fuel cell independent of the electric grid to continue to serve as a shelter.
That is one item the Town Council will ponder tonight in .
The high school has served has been considered an emergency shelter in the past but standards have changed, requiring updated equipment. In the worst-case scenario, the school must be able to house 3,600 people for 90 days at most, said Owners Representative Al Barbarotta, who also works with the THS Building Committee.
The Superdome in New Orleans did not house that many during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it was noted.
The question at hand is not whether to make the changes, but to assemble a committee to explore how to make the school meet emergency shelter code.
"Emergency management has changed drastically in the last few years," Barbarotta told the Council's Legislation and Administration Committee.
The new committee will explore options including a diesel-powered generator or an underground natural gas fuel cell, Barbarotta said. Some options could costs as much as $500,000.
All state buildings and colleges use fuel cells for emergency power, Barbarotta noted. The federal government is also encouraging the use of fuel cells for the off-the-grid power, he added.
The question of cost also arose in the council committee, not regarding price but the source of the money.
Barbarotta said the new committee, on which he volunteered to serve, would also explore third-party funding.
Councilman James Meisner called for separating the shelter project budget from the high school renovation budget.
"[Merging them] doesn't seem practical to me," Meisner said.
The committee endorsed the measure. The council must give a majority approval for it to pass.
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Other Agenda Items
The town will explore using 579 Church Hill Road, next to the former Town Hall (now the ).
The home was built in 1916 and is owned by Church Tait LLC, according to Visionappraisal.com.
The town would lease it for 49 years at $1 a year and convert it into a tourist and visitor center, including bathrooms for Pequonnock Trail users.
Meanwhile, the town's anti-blight ordinance is under review to give disabled or elderly homeowners more time to clean up their blighted properties.
Finally, the council is expected to establish a "sense of council" regarding state Department of Transportation work to widen White Plains Road near Reservoir Avenue.
In July, a DOT engineer told a meeting of town residents that it cannot cancel the project because of safety concerns at the intersection. But he said it will work with town leaders to keep the impact as positive as possible.