Former Town Hall Committee Chair Reflects on Council Nomination
NEWINGTON - Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated that Miner was approached by members of both the Democrats and Republicans regarding a Council run. Miner said he was approached only by the Democrats for Council, and that he served on the Town Hall Building Committee and Town Planning and Zoning Commission as a Republican. We apologize for the error.

      

       Several months after stepping away from the Town Hall Project Building Committee he chaired, Chris Miner has reemerged as a Town Council nominee with the Democratic Town Committee slate.

       Miner, a business owner and Newington volunteer fireman, had resigned from the Committee while citing constraints on the amount of time he had to give to the body, which was meeting almost weekly at that point. He said that as the proposal came together and made its way out of the Committee stage, representatives from the DTC began approaching him regarding a potential November election run.

       “The more I heard it, the more I considered it,” Miner said over the phone, a few days after being nominated to the Terry Borjeson led DTC ticket.

       An unaffiliated voter, Miner was nominated to the Town Hall Committee by the Republican Town Committee. He says he has since changed his affiliation to Democrat, but only in name-his stated goal is to work across party lines in search of bipartisan consensus.

       “I like to consider myself a problem solver,” said Miner, who has continued to follow the Town Hall project-even offering his former Committee colleagues advice during public comment. “It’s not an R or a D thing, it’s what’s right for the town.”

       Miner said liked the idea of being “an underdog”-something he feels the current Town Hall Committee was while entering a process that proceeded two other renovation planning groups that saw their proposal either voted down at referendum or not make it that far.

       “Nobody thought we’d be able to get anything done beyond renovating it as it was,” Miner said.

       But it was Miner who first challenged the Committee to look beyond the $25 million renovate in place scheme laid out by consultants from DTC. The projected cost became the budget the Committee was bound to, but the process has yielded a tentative blueprint for reconstructing the Town Hall administrative building and Mortensen Community Center with a long sought double gymnasium and more “usable space”.

       The $28.8 million price tag-while over the desired budget-isn’t bad when factors like soft costs and construction inflation are considered, Miner has told his former Committee colleagues.

       As the project moves to public hearing, Miner is turning his attention to the town building infrastructure as a whole. To that end, he says he’d like to initiate a Town Buildings Committee to oversee all related needs.

       Next in line for renovation is the Blue Ribbon award-winning Anna Reynolds Elementary School, and the Library is laying the plans for its own expansion, Miner noted.

       And all of this has to happen in a statewide fiscal climate that threatens state aid and project reimbursement levels, he said.

       “Is it the worst time to get involved? Probably,” he said. “But it also gives me the opportunity to do some good in a time where we’re stressed out about a lot.”
STORY BY MARK DIPAOLA   |  Sep 01 2017  |  COMMENTS?