Thanks to $200,000 in grant funds, hazardous materials abatement in the single-family houses at Fairfield Hills has begun, with abatement and demolition of Danbury Hall to follow. An additional $200,000 in Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funds through the town will cover any additional costs incurred when Danbury is demolished. According to Economic and Community Development Director Elizabeth Stocker, hazardous materials abatement is under way on the single-family houses “to be paid in full” with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleanup grant of $200,000. Next will be the cleanup and demolition of Danbury Hall, she confirmed. Any remaining grant funds from the houses remediation will be used for the cleanup on Danbury. If the grant cannot pay for the full cost, then the $200,000 of CIP will cover costs, plus pay for demolition. No EPA funds will be used for the demolition, Ms Stocker said; the EPA funds are to be used for the cleanup only.
The town will be reviewing a proposal from the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, LLC, to allow the firm to position several storage lockers outdoors near the front entrance to its Botsford store as part of the Peapod grocery-pickup service. On April 17, Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members discussed the proposed changes for the supermarket at Sand Hill Plaza at 228 South Main Street (Route 25). P&Z members decided that the firm would not need to obtain a formal revision to the special permit, which the P&Z had granted for the shopping center in the past.
Legislative Council Ordinance Committee Chair Ryan Knapp has released a draft of the revised senior tax relief proposals going to a planned public hearing May 7 before the regularly scheduled council meeting. Officials could deliberate and act on those changes and endorse the revised ordinance following the hearing. According to the draft provided to The Bee, one significant change is the proposed addition of a fourth tier of benefit, which is already being funded at $150,000 as a result of the 2014-15 budget passage earlier this week. If approved by the council, that new tier would apply a maximum credit of $800 to otherwise qualifying applicants whose household income falls between $65,001 and $70,000.
As with the spring flowers that emerge in April, construction projects often also start this time of year. Four notable examples of commercial construction projects that are starting, or are about to begin, can be found on Mt Pleasant Road, South Main Street, and Church Hill Road. George Benson, town director of planning and land use, notes that the coming construction season promises to be a busy one with those projects commencing.
Firefighters from three of Newtown’s volunteer companies provided mutual aid to Southbury Volunteer Fireman’s Association early Friday morning. A team made up of officers and firefighters from Botsford, Hook & Ladder, and Sandy Hook responded with two pieces of apparatus to the neighboring town, where other firefighters were already on the scene of a factory fire at 1200 Main Street South. Newtown Fire Marshal Bill Halstead believes 15 firefighters from town responded this morning. Newtown’s firefighters were dispatched around 5:20 am for what was described as a fully involved structure fire. Those responding from Newtown formed a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT), to serve as a firefighter search and rescue team if needed. Some of the Newtown firefighters relieved the first round of firefighters in the building, but none had to act as RIT. The fire was knocked down shortly after 8 am, and the local firefighters returned to town by 8:30.
Even on the occasion of her final report to the Board of Selectmen ahead of her departure as Newtown’s Recovery Program leader, General Electric’s Anne Alzapiedi chose to promote her work and her colleagues along with many other officials, town staffers, and residents who inspired her to return to the community day after day. But it was those colleagues, officials, and staffers who refused to let Ms Alzapiedi go without paying tribute to her expertise, organizational skills, and diplomatic demeanor prior to the April 21 Board of Selectmen’s meeting. Her GE colleague Elizabeth Rallo summed it up this way: “Anne brought not only the best that GE had to offer, but she brought her heart.” Her comments were echoed by Police Chief Michael Kehoe, Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold, Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein, volunteer Bob Geckle, and via a letter submitted by Permanent Memorial Commission Chairman Kyle Lyddy.
For the second consecutive summer, Ben’s Lighthouse will bring about 20 Newtown high schoolers across the country to assist the victims of a massive natural disaster. From July 27 to August 2, this volunteer group of teens and chaperones will participate in projects to clean up and rebuild from the unprecedented flooding that took at least eight lives and destroyed 2,000 homes last September. The trip is open to Newtown youth who are completing grade 8 through grade 12 this spring. Anyone interested in participating on this trip is invited to attend an information session on Sunday, May 18, at Trinity Episcopal Church. An equal number of male and female participants will be chosen by lottery from among those who decide to sign up for the trip.
The Board of Selectmen on April 21 received several updates. Newtown Hook & Ladder representative Rick Camejo reported to the selectmen that he believed the signing of a contract to purchase property from Trinity Church to site the company's new headquarters was imminent. After a wait of several months, a lease was finalized permitting Newtown Parent Connection to begin renovations and to eventually occupy one of several duplexes on the former state hospital campus. The selectmen also briefly discussed a new planned facilities study.
Anna Wiedemann has been selected by the Democratic Town Committee as the honoree for their 2014 Jefferson-Jackson-Bailey Dinner. Ms Wiedemann was chosen because of her extensive contributions to Newtown. A resident of Sandy Hook, Ms Wiedemann has contributed her time and talents to numerous groups in Newtown for more than a quarter century. The 2014 JJB Dinner is planned for Thursday, May 15, in The Alexandria Room at Edmond Town Hall. This is a bipartisan event; all are welcome.
The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) has put the Forest Fire Danger Level for Thursday, April 24, at Very High. Forest fire danger levels are classified as Low, Moderate, High, Very High or Extreme. In addition, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for all of Connecticut, which remains in effect until 8 pm. All open burn permits have been suspended. Newtown’s fire companies have responded to at least eight brush fires since March 26, including one that kept Botsford Fire Rescue and Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue in the area of Great Ring and High Rock roads for a few hours last month.