Posted on 14 April 2010.
[Updated on April 15 to correct Alesia Kennerson's place of work to Waterbury; my apologies for the error, Maria]
By: Maria Moore
In a lightly-attended Board of Selectmen meeting last night, Tuesday, April 13 the two Selectmen present, First Selectman Dan Jerram and Selectman Tom Klebart disposed of the agenda items in less than an hour before going into executive session with Board of Finance Chairman Ben Witte. The executive session item was listed as “re. Land Use Administrator” and no information was given before the executive session and no outcome was announced after the session ended.
The two selectmen were the only ones sitting at the conference table since Selectman Bruce Gresczyk was absent and Christine Hayward was on vacation, and the meeting was more a briefing by Dan on the agenda items than one requiring action. The complete agenda for the Selectmen’s meeting is added below; this report includes the following items:
Items #6,Central Ave. ~ Traffic Complaints/Concerns, and #8, Appointment of Legal Traffic Authority
Dan informed Tom that he had received a letter from Jim Steadman, Chairman of the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission expressing concern over the parking on Central Avenue and Bridge Street. P&Z said it feels the parking situation is causing Public Health, Safety and Welfare issues and needs to be addressed immediately. P&Z asked the selectmen to look into the parking situation and to take whatever action necessary to remedy it; a downloadable copy of the P&Z letter to the Selectmen is included at the end of this report.
Everyone present agreed that the traffic situation has gotten a lot worse since the old library building at 2 Central Avenue reopened and businesses had moved into it. Dan said that the concern was mostly for the on-the street parking on Central Avenue, a narrow road that connects Route 44 with Steele Road across Route 219. He said he’d watched the traffic from Frank Misiorski’s Corner House and he attributed part of the problem to the traffic turning from Route 44 into Central Avenue. “If there’s cars coming down Central Ave. they (the cars that had just made the turn from Route 44) have to stop and wait (for the other cars to complete coming down the road).” Those present at the meeting were all aware of the problem with that stretch of Central Avenue. Donna LaPlante, Town Clerk who was at the meeting, said that once when she had been driving down Central Avenue and there was a funeral at the Catholic Church (on the opposite side of the road from the old library building), people had parked on both sides of the narrow road.
Roy Litchfield, Board of Finance member also at the meeting, asked what the original plan was when the proposal for the rehabbing of the old library building had been presented. Dan said that currently there were no parking requirements for businesses in the central village area, something that is being looked at by P&Z in their ongoing revision of the zoning regulations. Donna said that part of the original plan of improvement for Central Avenue was to consider making the road one-way. In 1995, she said, the recommendation had been to close Central Avenue to traffic. “Common sense has not prevailed,” Donna said, adding that there is currently plenty of parking in town, but people take the closest base during the bad weather and then don’t park elsewhere later. “We’re fortunate not to have had any accidents there.” Donna concluded. Dan agreed, saying there were no accidents, but that ticketing had occurred.
Alesia Kennerson, Board of Finance member who was at the meeting, said that she has a 10-minute walk from where she parks for free in Waterbury to her office. She added there could be assigned parking to balance the need to keep the center viable.
Our reporter, speaking as a resident asked whether short-term, the town might approach the Beekley Library to allow parking in the empty lot (where the old Foothills Trader building had been located) between the old library and the new. Dan said: “That land belongs to the library.” And our reporter agreed but added that the town made a large contribution to the library and might be able to ask them to help out.
Our reporter also asked about the status of the $250,000 STEAP grant that the town has for the realignment of the Central Avenue intersection. That grant has most recently been looked at by the town to help pay for sewer line repairs in that portion of Main Street. Dan said that it was still open how to best use that grant, that it was something the BOC (Building Oversight Committee of the Wastewater Treatment Plant) would be taking up again soon.
Dan said he’d appointed himself the Legal Traffic Authority, adding that he, the selectmen and the police could all be appointed to handle the traffic situation.
Tom asked: “In the short term, are you looking at making it one way?” To which Dan answered: “I’m looking exactly at what P&Z asked us to do: to assess the situation.”
The matter was kept on the agenda for a future board meeting.
P&Z Letter: Traffic Concerns On Central Ave. and Bridge St. (203)
A view looking down Central Avenue towards the center of New Hartford this past March. Photo: Maria Moore
Item #5: Industrial Park Washout
The washout area in the Industrial Park seen from Route 219
Dan updated Tom on the Industrial Park washout. Â He said this (second) washout was located in front of the Inertia property where Hitchcock Chairs had once been located. Â He said there’s a Cease and Correct order in place and that the town has to develop a plan of action. Â The large tree in the Carter Street property had been removed and he has an engineering bid from Lenard Engineering for $15,000 and a bid from a soil scientist. Â He said the Wetlands alone will be about $8,700. Â He emphasized that the order to correct was under the condition of “if feasible” and he will be going back to Inland Wetlands (Commission) for what’s feasible to the Commission.
Tom asked about the first washout and Dan said the prices included both washouts. Â He said the soil was starting to erode at the first washout location and the fix for that washout was not if feasible, it was something that had to be fixed.
For a downloadable copy of the Cease and Correct order: for the washout, please see our report on the March 23 BOS Meeting Summary.
Operations ~ Brown’s Corner Concerns
As part of the Operations Update which Dan provided on the various town projects going on right now (Item # 4: Sand and Salt Shed: “we’re getting it off the mark”; West Hill overlay: “bids will be opened on the 14th”) and various grants updates, Dan LaPlante, Planning and Zoning Commission member who was at the meeting, asked whether the dirt piles at Brown’s Corner needed to be fenced in and, hearing that it wasn’t part of the work being done right now, Dan LaPlante asked: “If something happened would the town be liable?” Â Going on to add that kids have been riding their ATVs all around the sand piles.
Roy filled in the history for those who might not have known it: that the former First Selectman had called the insurance company and had reported the situation to them. Â Dan Jerram said he would look into the insurance situation.
Our reporter asked whether there was a Cease and Correct order issued by Planning and Zoning for Brown’s Corner and Dan Jerram said there wasn’t, that he’d had only received a note from Rista (Malanca in the Land Use Office) about the silt fence and soil that had washed onto Pine Hill Road during the recent heavy rain.
Item #7: Appointment of Deputy Fire Marshall
Dan announced that at the request of Bill Baldwin, the town’s Fire Marshall, he has appointed Bill Baldwin, a firefighter, as Deputy Fire Marshall.
Board of Selectmen
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
1.)Opportunity for Public Comment
Sewer plant financing
4.)STEAP â€“ sand/salt, ARRA- West Hill project
5.)Industrial Park Washout
6.)Central Ave â€“ traffic complaints/concerns
7.)Appointment of Deputy Fire Marshal
8.)Appointment of Legal Traffic Authority
9.)Any Other Business to Come Before The Board
10.)Executive Session â€“ re: Land Use Administrator
A view of the washout area from the Industrial Park road looking towards the two houses on Carter Street with Route 219 and Cottage Street in the background. Photo: Maria Moore