Selectmen give go ahead for new Grass Island restrooms

Restroom facilities at Grass Island are getting a much-needed facelift after the Board of Selectmen unanimously granted municipal improvement (MI) status on the project.

This allows for the project to head to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission and is a key step forward toward rebuilding the locker building at Grass Island. The building is not only a public restroom but also stores the electrical equipment for the marina and has a covered picnic porch overlooking Greenwich Harbor. It is also believed to be more than 75 years old, and the 2,700-square-foot single-story structure has been slated for renovation or replacement for years.

“This has been targeted as part of the townwide restroom improvement program,” Alan Monelli, the town’s superintendent of building construction and maintenance, told the board. “The existing restrooms are not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible and because of the building’s size these restrooms cannot be modified to comply with the ADA regulations. It has to be completely replaced.”

Mr. Monelli said the construction would also have to comply with new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations about flooding in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The building will now have to be built at a higher elevation off the ground than it had been before. Mr. Monelli said that after Sandy he estimated there was two feet of water surrounding the building, which also led to a concern about the electrical power going into it.

Under questioning from First Selectman Peter Tesei, Mr. Monelli said that these new requirements for elevation will raise the cost for the project, which is already included in the current town budget, from $500,000 to $650,000.

The new structure will be elevated and will have both men’s and women’s rooms as well as an electrical room, a janitor’s closet and a storage room. Mr. Monelli said at 2,400 square feet it will end up being smaller than the current structure. Ramping will be installed to make it fully ADA-compliant.

Mr. Monelli estimated that it would take between five and six months before all the approvals from town land use agencies were in place for the project. He said he would go before the Planning and Zoning Commission with a preliminary site plan, and once the plan was approved, he would go to the Architectural Review Committee and then go back to Planning and Zoning for the final approval.


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