The Board of Education voted to increase the superintendent of schools’ contracted salary by three percent and to extend his contract by one year at its special meeting on Wednesday, June 24. The decision came among a series of votes on agenda items before the board heard from the public regarding the possibility of closing Hawley Elementary School due to declining enrollment for the 2016-17 year. The board later voted not to close a school for the 2016-17 school year and to continue its discussion about the best use of district facilities. This week Board of Education Chair Keith Alexander said he believes his board did the “right thing” when it decided to study the possibility of closing a school over the summer months, and it also did the right thing when it decided to not close a school for the 2016-17 school year.
The town will use its capital nonrecurring fund to purchase five heavy vehicles for the Parks and Recreation and Highway Departments, and will structure an internal leaseback arrangement that will save taxpayers in excess of $35,000 that would have gone to cover interest payments, according to Finance Director Robert Tait. On Wednesday, July 1, the Legislative Council approved the plan to replace the heavily used trucks, one of which has amassed 275,000 miles and another that was acquired in 1989 — the same year Public Works Director Fred Hurley arrived on the job. Since then, that near-antique dump truck has racked up 189,000 miles on its odometer.
In mid-April LRM Construction crews began digging out a ten-foot-wide path at Fairfield Hills where a new paved walkway would go. Today, the project is complete, with fresh pavement finished off the gravel-lined path, cutting through fields of wildflowers, groves of shrubs near single-family residences once used by state hospital workers, and through newer construction on the campus. More of the Fairfield Hills varied scenery — a community garden, meadows, playing fields, wooded areas, and large brick buildings both old and new — is now within arm’s reach where the trail meanders. It winds along Mile Hill South behind the white, single-family homes, past the Victory Garden, and toward Wasserman Way. From there a sweeping curve heads toward the new Newtown Volunteer Ambulance garage, passes in front of it, then cuts toward the campus center where it ends at the the intersection of Keating Farms Avenue and DG Beers Boulevard, a few yards away from the main entrance across from Reed Intermediate School.
Dozens of residents packed the Municipal Center council chambers July 6, roundly endorsing a proposal to bond $1 million to supplement already budgeted town road improvement and resurfacing projects.
The same group also enthusiastically approved $3.6 million for a major renovation of the Newtown High School auditorium that will create a fully code compliant, handicapped accessible, state of the art public gathering and performance space.
The public action approved $4.6 million in spending in just a few minutes, with only one resident speaking to each of the two motions. Ahead of the first vote on the auditorium project, Marjorie Cramer asked officials to clarify whether renovations would be ongoing while the summer musical was in rehearsal.
Board of Education Chairman Keith Alexander was on hand to respond that there would be no ongoing work during the summer musical session.
Sometime between the end of the 2015 legislative session and the special session that wrapped up earlier this week, Newtown’s freshman Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) decided to give the governor’s proposed “Second Chance Society” legislation a second look. As the official session wrapped up a few weeks ago, Sen Hwang stood firmly with opponents to Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed “Second Chance Society,” which aimed to reduce both the onus and penalties associated with certain drug offenses. But when the special session vote came down, Sen Hwang registered his vote and lent his voice in support of the progressive legislation.
First Selectman Pat Llodra is seeking residents to fill several opening on local appointed boards and commissions. In some cases the appointments are required to be affiliated with a specific political party, while in other cases unaffiliated voters are encouraged to consider serving. Inquiries should be made through the Office of the First Selectman, 3 Primrose Street, or call 203-270-4201.
About 150 well-wishers took part in a testimonial for Mae Schmidle and Julia Wasserman on Sunday, June 28, held to honor the two women for their decades of local public service. Due to health reasons, Mrs Wasserman was not able to attend the event held in the Great Room at the Newtown Congregational Church on West Street. First Selectman Pat Llodra served as mistress of ceremonies.
A local builder/developer’s proposal to construct 74 condominium apartments on Washington Avenue in Sandy Hook Center is scheduled for discussion at a Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) public hearing slated for 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 9, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street. Applicant Michael Burton of Sandy Hook, doing business as River Walk Properties, LLC, is seeking a special permit for the project under the terms of the Incentive Housing-10 (IH-10) zoning regulations, which the P&Z created in January. The project, known as The River Walk at Sandy Hook Village, represents the first application for an IH-10 multifamily housing complex that the P&Z has received for review.