There is enough compelling evidence that public safety could be improved and cost savings realized for a two-person advisory team to advise the Board of Selectmen to consider a formal study on turning local emergency communications over to a specialized regional dispatch organization. Jeff Capeci and Neil Chaudhary have been researching that idea for several months, gathering data as well as hearing from local police, volunteer fire, and ambulance representatives. Mr Capeci is a former Legislative Council chairman, and Mr Chaudhary is a current councilman, although their participation in this project has nothing to do with their council service. Their recommendations come despite opposition from the local Police and Fire Commissions, and concerns voiced by Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps leadership.
As local officials and volunteers are about to begin a “memorial sidewalk” project that will eventually link Sandy Hook School to Main Street at the flagpole, Newtown’s planning agency announced it will be receiving an unanticipated grant that will underwrite additional sidewalks between Glover Avenue and Mile Hill South. Director of Planning George Benson told the Board of Selectmen August 18 that a $380,000 grant slated to go to Bridgewater through the regional council of governments has been declined, so it will now go to Newtown, the second ranked community on a priority list for a Connecticut State Transportation Enhancement allocation. Mr Benson said Newtown could possibly qualify for up to $500,000 under the program — and if that increase comes to fruition, it could help extend sidewalks even further, from the corner of Mile Hill South to Trades Lane near the entrance to Reed Intermediate School.
The Water & Sewer Authority (WSA) has approved a rate increase for users of the two municipal sewer systems, hiking by 7 percent both the quarterly gallonage rate and also the general administrative fee.
The WSA held a two-minute public hearing on the rate increases before its regular August 14 meeting. There was no public comment. At their regular meeting, WSA members approved the increases. The increases affect both the central sewer system, which serves the borough and adjacent areas, and the Hawleyville sewer system located along Mt Pleasant Road, near the Bethel town line.
Following Board of Selectmen action August 18 to send the town’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to the Board of Finance, Chairman John Kortze has asked First Selectman Pat Llodra, School Superintendent Dr Joseph Erardi, as well as members of the Legislative Council and Board of Education to attend the August 28 finance board meeting. Mr Kortze said he has asked Mrs Llodra and Dr Erardi to present their capital plans to the group. The finance chairman is anticipating some discussion among all involved about how the facilities analysis, future anticipated student enrollment and space needs will affect the CIP along with any future bonding or spending to cover project costs.
The Inland Wetlands Commission has scheduled a public hearing for next week on a proposed 23-lot cluster-style residential subdivision in Dodgingtown. The hearing on The Preserve at Newtown is slated for 7:30 pm on Wednesday, August 27, at Newtown Municipal Center. Two development firms are proposing the construction of the subdivision at a 167-acre tract. The project is proposed by developers KASL, LLC, and IBF, LLC. The cluster-style development is designed to cluster its houses in two separate areas on the sprawling site in seeking to preserve a large amount of undeveloped open space land. About nine house lots would be created along Robin Hill Road #2, which extends northeastward from Rock Ridge Road near Rock Ridge Country Club in Dodgingtown.
The Board of Selectmen moved quickly to reorganize Newtown’s Land Use, Planning, and Economic Development functions following the recent departure of Director of Economic and Community Development Director Elizabeth Stocker, who has taken a new job with similar responsibilities in Norwalk. On August 18, selectmen endorsed eliminating the economic and community development director position and promoting Land Use Director George Benson to Director of Planning; increasing the responsibilities of Deputy Land Use Director Rob Sibley; and converting the economic development coordinator from a contract to a staff position, with added responsibilities for Betsy Paynter. Also, Christal Preszler, who handled some economic development support as well as duties for the Fairfield Hills Authority as a contract hourly worker, will become a town staffer with added responsibilities as Newtown’s new grant coordinator.
Town police have received approval for an almost $17,000 grant, and plan to use the money for traffic speed enforcement now through the end of September, and also to acquire some new radar-based speed detection equipment. The department plans to spend $3,495 to buy some new radar speed detection equipment to replace older equipment, and also spend $13,400 to cover police overtime costs for specialized speed enforcement work shifts running from August 18 through September 30.
Volunteers are encouraged to attend tonight's Newtown Forest Association (NFA) 90th anniversary celebration planning meeting at 7 pm at the Holcombe Hill Wildlife Preserve at 55/65 Great Hill Road.
Just 18 days remain until the NFA Sunset Wine Tasting Event on September 6, 2014 as the NFA Celebrates 90 years of privately preserving open space and Newtown's rural character.