Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) members unanimously approved a wetlands/watercourses protection permit for the proposed new Sandy Hook Elementary School at 12 Dickinson Drive during a special meeting on Monday, July 28. The new school would replace the former Sandy Hook School, which the town demolished last year following 12/14. Before the IWC’s approval, IWC member Anne Peters said, “a huge amount of energy and effort has gone into this application.” The applicant of record for the project is the town’s Public Building and Site Commission. In approving the application, IWC members placed nine sets of conditions on their endorsement, which the applicant will need to meet. Among those conditions: erosion and sedimentation controls must be installed before construction starts; any changes to development plans must be approved by the town before such changes occur; and the applicant must hire an environmental management consultant to implement the plans.
Newtown Middle School technology education teacher Don Ramsey caught a photo of a rainbow in Newtown on Monday, July 28. Following an overcast day punctuated with a few showers and a brief downpour, the rainbow came out around 7 pm. This was the view looking east-southeast from 160 South Main Street. Today's weather should be, according to the National Weather Service, more stable, with sun all day and temperatures near 80 degrees. The humidity at 9 am is at 73 percent.
While the formal dedication of FunSpace II, the new playground at Dickinson Park, was held over the weekend, Newtown Parks & Recreation is reminding residents that the playground is still closed. “We need this week to finish the safety surfacing and borders,” the department announced via email Tuesday morning. The chance that the playground would be dedicated, but remain closed, on Saturday was a caveat the department had issued when it announced the date of its dedication earlier this month.
While the Board of Education held off making a decision on whether to implement a school-based health clinic at Newtown Middle School during its meeting on Tuesday, July 15, it also promised to take the topic up again at a future date. A number of people who worked on a committee to research the school-based health clinic were present to discuss the option with the school board, including nursing supervisor Anne Dalton, School Based Health Centers of Danbury coordinator Melanie Bonjour, NMS Principal Thomas Einhorn, school district medical advisor Ana Paula Machado, Thomas Draper representing the Newtown Health District in place of Donna Culbert, and school district health coordinator Judy Blanchard. “I think the exciting news in regard to this issue is that there is a funding stream in place for this to take place,” said Superintendant of Schools Dr Joseph Erardi said. “If the board supports this initiative they can move from paper to practice somewhere in the area of December 2014 or January 2015.”
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has published a document in the form of questions and answers (Q&A) at the town website as an effort to guide people through the process, said commission chairman Kyle Lyddy. “It is a format that the town has used previously and we thought it was a digestible way for people to get accurate information. We want this to be a collaborative effort and know there will be many groups involved in the process; therefore it will be important to be transparent as we progress. We are doing this as a proactive effort to keep the community in tune,” Mr Lyddy said.
Newtown is among a growing number of towns in recent years infested with the emerald ash borer, “a destructive insect responsible for the death and decline” of ash trees throughout the country, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Untreated ash trees will be lost and can die within two to three years. Monitoring the ground-nesting, native wasp (Cerceris fumipennis) that hunts many wood-boring beetles, including the emerald ash borer, can help detect the insect’s presence. The wasp is an effective “biological surveillance” survey tool and does not sting people or pets, according to Dr Claire E. Rutledge, who runs the extension station survey program. Newtown Land Use Director George Benson is aware of the pest, and recommends that residents with concerns contact the experiment station.
Police report that during a sobriety checkpoint that they held on the evening of Saturday, July 19, and early morning hours of Sunday, July 20, at the intersection of Wasserman Way and Trades Lane at Fairfield Hills, they charged a Southbury man with driving under the influence.
Launched in January 2013 by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission (NCAC), with the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut and the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the HealingNewtown project has offered dozens of programs, exhibitions, and workshops since its debut. The project’s first headquarters, in a then-vacant storefront at 5 Queen Street, was also host to numerous pieces of art, some created by local residents but the majority of which were sent to Newtown in response to 12/14. By June, the project had relocated to the lower level of Newtown Congregational Church. Valerie Culbertson has been serving as the project’s director since November 2013. With funds running out from an NEA grant that has been used to pay for Ms Culbertson's services, and the lease for the current space set to expire in a few months -- as well as encouragement from the first selectman that it is time for the commission to refocus its efforts -- NCAC voted this week to allow the longterm project to conclude. NCAC has every intention of continuing to offer, host, and/or sponsor programs covering numerous artistic interests, however.
Following a July 17 public hearing, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) approved the construction of an 18,750-square-foot mixed-use two-story building at a 2.35-acre site at 146 South Main Street, in which the lower level would be commercial space and the upper level would hold up to ten rental apartments. P&Z members unanimously approved the project known as The Summit at Newtown submitted by Summit Properties Group LLC of Norwalk. The site is on the west side of South Main Street, across that street from Newtown Self-Storage.
Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members are scheduled to conduct a public hearing on the zoning aspects of the proposed new Sandy Hook Elementary School at 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 31, at Newtown Municipal Center. The Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) had been poised to review and possibly act on the wetlands protection aspects of the school project at a July 23 session, following a public hearing the commission held two weeks earlier. IWC did not reach a quorum on July 23, however, so it has scheduled a special meeting on the application for review and possible action for 7:30 pm on Monday, July 28, also at Newtown Municipal Center.