By: Maria Moore
Both the Seniors and New Hartford Schools made requests of the town’s selectmen this past Monday, but they each Â met with a different response. Â The selectmen were holding their second regularly-scheduled meeting of the month on Monday, January 26, and their agenda included item #Â 4 Board of Education~ request for Building Committee and item #Â 5 Â Seniors ~ presentation re. Senior Center, as well as the Conservation Commission, item # 3 with their recommendation for a Clean Energy Supplier. Â Following is a report on these items as well as other items of interest to our readers; please see the end of this article for the full agenda for this meeting.
Item # 4: New Hartford Schools Board of Ed ~ Request for Building Committee
The New Hartford Schools Board of Ed submitted a request in writing to the selectmen Â for a Building Committee to oversee the work needed at Antolini School outlined in The Lawrence Associates engineering report in our September 30 article New Roof, Windows, Boiler, for Antolini…
First Selectman Dan Jerram read the written request for a Building Committee and gave his opinion: “In this current time, I don’t think we can go forward on it. Â It could jeapordize the project.” Â Dan wanted to deny the request, saying that projects which presented safety issues could be addressed under the budget. Â Bruce Gresczyk asked when the current debt on Bakerville ends and he was told in 2014. Â Bruce was referring to the bond which the town is still paying for the Bakerville school renovations in the 1990s. Â He was of the same opinion as Dan, to deny the request at this time. Â Tom Klebart asked: “Why not get started now with a Building Committee?” Â Dan again said he didn’t want to jeopardize the project, that he didn’t know if they had fully researched it. Â Tom inquired how long a Building Committee would take to get established. Â He then followed the timeline given for a Building Committee to get up and running and said they’d probably be out into 2012 before the Building Committee would start to do anything with the project. Â Bruce said he concurred with the First Selectman. Â Tom, however, said: “I’m not saying we don’t put it off. Â I just want to get more information.” Â Part of the information he wanted to know is whether the town would save money by doing all the work as a bundle. Â Dan agreed there were questions “Dr. Phil” (Dr. Philip O’Reilly, Superintendent of Schools) could answer and he agreed to table the item and invite Philip to come in and speak with the board members.
Item # 5: Seniors ~ Presentation Re. Senior Center
Andy Riess, who is a past selectman in New Hartford, made a presentation to the board on behalf of the seniorsâ€™ Building Committe. â€We want a new Senior Center.â€ Andy informed the selectmen. Problems with the current Senior Center inlclude that itâ€™s up on the third floor, thereâ€™s a lack of parking when Town Hall offices are open, and the center wonâ€™t be adequate 10 years from now. He said the seniors had looked at town-owned property that could be a possible site for the center and had decided on a location at Brodie Park South on West Hill. He said theyâ€™d picked out a spot that will meet the seniorsâ€™ needs and wonâ€™t impact Rec. Dan Jerram asked if itâ€™s where the kids practice now and Andy responded that itâ€™s on the other side of the pines from the area the kids use now. Andy said that originally they had wanted to put the new center across the river (where the Highway Department is presently located) but he said that the Economic Development Commission had other plans for that area.
â€œTo build a building we have to have town land.â€ Andy said and there was no other town property downtown, where they had originally wanted to be. He said they would need $2.5 million to start with and he asked the selectmen to get a grant for them: â€œWe have to start with you; you own the land and youâ€™ll own the building.â€ He said.
Dan Jerram said that to gather the funds will take time and that the selectmen can’t speak for Rec and the seniors should involve them. Bruce agreed with Dan, saying: “The seniors did give up their money ~ $180,000 ~ but they need to take the correct steps.” We’ll go to them (to Rec) when we get the money.” Andy responded. Paul Mahoney of the Conservation Committee, whose committee also has a say on the town-owned Brodie property, said Conservation has wanted to a sub-committee to be formed. “It’s a good, long-term plan to get everybody together.” Paul said.
The three selectmen agreed that they would go ahead and look for grant money and Andy agreed that the seniors’ Building Committee would go to Rec with their plan. Andy asked if there was anyone else besides Rec and Conservation that they should go to, and Dan said: “Get as many on board as possible!” Dan added: “If you came to get us to help get grant funding , you’ve heard a positive outcome.” And with that Andy left the meeting, as did a number of supporters, including Dianne Litchfield, Mary Kent (Commission on Aging Chairwoman) and Jean Barnicoat (Senior Center Director).
Item # 3: Alison Murdock/Conservation Commission ~ Recommendation for Clean Energy Supplier
Alison Murdock and Paul Mahoney were back before the board to make a specific recommendation for a Clean Energy Supplier as they had been asked to do at the January 12 board meeting; see our January 13 report Bruce Gresczyk Appointed… Since that meeting the Conservation Commission members had also carried out an energy survey of Town Hall on January 20; see photos accompanying this report.
The Conservation Commission recommended signing up with Dominion, LEVCO in Connecticut, which offers a fixed rate and is involved in the community with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Dan agreed to sign up on a trial basis a part of the 12 separate accounts that the town has, and if it works, he said, then to sign up the rest. “The fixed rate guarantees a lower cost.” Alison responded, but Dan asked them to stop by and do the sign-up and then they would revisit it in 3 months.
Item # 6: Operations Updates
Probate Consolidation: Dan reported that after meeting with Ryan Bingham (the Torrington Mayor) and others in the new probate district ~ 8 towns in total ~ the towns’ representatives had unanimously voted to locate the probate office in Torrington, in their newly-renovated Town Hall. Torrington will not charge any rent, and will pro-rate the electricity for the office. Member towns will also be able to vote on the staffing of that office and on the budget. The name for the new probate office will be ‘Torrington Area Probate District’.
Daily Operations ~ Bruce Gresczyk on Highway Department: Bruce said that it was a unique opportunity for him to survey the town roads and the equipment. Â He reported that the trucks were in reasonably good shape but that the equipment was not. Â He said the air compressor, the grader, the roadside mower, and the payloaders all have issues which he’s dealing with. Â So far, he said, he’s surveyed 80% of the town’s roads and he’ll report back on them, on the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Â He said the town has 80 miles of roads and that nothing has been done to seal them. Â He said that if you take the labor costs out, there’s less money in the highway department budget than in 1998 (when he was last in office) but that the price of asphalt has almost doubled. Â He will have recommendations on the roads in two weeks, he told the selectmen.
Bruce also reported back on the trees that need to be cut. Â ”It’s astounding how many hazardous trees there are!” He said, pointing out that for the last few years the town has called in private companies to cut the trees, when the crews could do the work, other than the tree limbs that are near power lines. Â He said the town crews have been busy cutting down the dead trees. Â Bruce went on to talk about the catch basins, some of which are “deplorable.” Â He mentioned in particular the ones on Highland Avenue where the water drains across the road.
Dan said he’d heard comments like: “Gee, I haven’t seen guys out cutting trees in winter for a long time.” And Christine Hayward, Administrative Assistant to the First Selectman, added: “It’s refreshing to see the forms coming back with issues taken care of.”
Dan proposed extending Bruce’s appointment as interim Highway Department Superintendent. Â Tom asked about the timing of the investigation, and when Dan said he didn’t have any additional information on that, Tom said: “I’m not comfortable with a selectman in charge of the Highway Department.” Â He was assured that they were not setting a precedent, that it had happened before on a short-term basis. Â Bruce said he had limited time available until the end of February, and that he was not interested in the job beyond that. Â The selectmen extended Bruce’s appointment up to their next meeting.
Item # 8: Appoint of Assessor
The appointment of Beth Paul as Assessor was approved. Â Dan added that there was no growth on the grand list, something which will affect the budget.
Item # 9: Appointment of Tree Warden
Dan said that he can appoint himself as the Tree Warden and then appoint deputies as he wishes. Â ”Most towns have the First Selectman.” Christine added. Â Asked what the duties of the Tree Warden are the answer was marking trees that needed to be removed, and saving specimen trees. Â Dan appointed Bruce Gresczyk andÂ Â Brenda Schauffler as the two deputies.
Item # 11: Correspondence
The three selectmen signed letters to all the volunteers who had been appointed to date to the town’s boards and commissions thanking them for their service.
To read the complete, official minutes: Of this Board of Selectmen’s Meeting when available, please see the Minutes/Agendas section of the town’s municipal website.
Board of Selectmen
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
7:00 PM – Town Hall
1.)Minutes of January 12, 2010
2.)Opportunity for Public Comment
3.)Alison Murdock/Conservation Comm. – Recommendation for Clean Energy Supplier
4.)Board of Education – request for Building Committee
5.)Seniors -presentation re: Senior Center
Grant Updates, Probate Consolidation, Others
7.)Appointments to Boards and Commissions
Conservation Commission, Historic District, RRDD#1, others
8.)Appointment of Assessor
9.)Appointment of Tree Warden
10.)Appointment to Northwest Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau
12.) Request for Tax Refunds
13.) Any Other Business to Come Before this Board