Riiska Checks Off Refinance, Maple Avenue Work

First Selectman Matt Riiska was dotting I’s and crossing T’s this week as he put the finishing touches on some major projects.

He reported that the final paperwork has been completed on refinancing a $4 million loan taken out last year to pay for Maple Avenue’s reconstruction and replacement of Botelle School’s roof. The original loan was taken out at 5.87 percent interest and the refinance is costing only 3.46 percent. Riiska estimates the lower rate will save the town more than $1 million over the course of the 24-year loan.  

He said the reconstruction of Maple Avenue is moving rapidly to its conclusion after being delayed all last summer by cleanup efforts following the massive gas spill in November 2022. He anticipates final paving of the road will happen during the first week of June.

“There are a few things to touch up,” he said, “and the paperwork will go on for a while documenting which part of the work is connected to the gas spill.”

Testing and monitoring for any residual gas from the spill continues but last winter the Torrington Area Health District cleared the seven houses effected by the spill for occupancy. Most of those families have now returned to their homes, although one building remains unrented, and one is in foreclosure. 

Ironically, East River Energy, the firm whose truck overturned, spewing 8,200 gallons of gas over the landscape, was the successful low bidder this year for the consortium through which Norfolk receives its heating oil. “They’re still in business,” Riiska said. “Their driver screwed up and that’s why they pay high insurance premiums. But they treat us right and we’re getting an excellent price of $2.95 a gallon for our oil.”

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