When neighbors suffer, Newtown has a history of stepping up to help; where we have been the recipients of generosity beyond imagining, we have worked to pay it forward. The world now presents us, blessed to live in relative safety, an opportunity to reach out far beyond our borders.
As a man accustomed to scanning spreadsheets full of discouraging numbers — about rising costs and diminishing revenues — Governor Dannel P. Malloy was uncharacteristically buoyed this week by a statistical report by the FBI that included some encouraging numbers about crime rates in Connecticut. Violent crime in the state has dropped by nearly 10 percent for the second year in a row with 236.9 violent crimes per 100,000 persons in 2014, lower than the aggregated rates in New England (287.2), the Northeast (322.5), and the United States as a whole (357.7). Nationally, the number violent crimes declined by one-tenth of one percent; in Connecticut, the rate dropped 9.7 percent.
The Planning and Zoning Commission is currently engaging in a strangely inverted process of overseeing a development proposal for the area of Exit 10 at Church Hill, Edmond, and Commerce Roads. Instead of receiving a specific and detailed development plan — in this case for commercial uses — it has received a proposal for a “design district” that will eventually contain those new, but still undisclosed, commercial uses.
More than 125 people turned up at the Rock Ridge Country Club Saturday morning for a breakfast fundraiser in support of the Third Annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence, which will take place on December 9 in Washington, DC. The event, hosted by The Newtown Foundation, drew a crowd of engaged and committed advocates for curbing gun violence.
As the natural world leans into another equinox and launches all its spectacular protocols for shutting things down for another winter, we find ourselves taking another tack. We staged an exuberant celebration in the middle of the streets in the middle of town on Monday just as our academic, social, and political calendars started coming back to life after a long languorous summer. It was a de facto New Year’s Eve Party.
The Labor Day Parade intends to honor Newtown’s artists on Monday, marching this year to the theme of “Celebrating the Fine Art of Newtown — Honoring SCAN.” SCAN, of course, is the Society of Creative Arts of Newtown, which has applied a rich palette of artistry to the community canvas since it was founded in 1971, thanks to its engaged and motivated membership. Ruth Newquist, one of the society’s most notable talents, is serving as parade marshal this year. We learn about ourselves at the parade, and we learn a bit about the world around us as well.
The convocation on Monday of educators and school district staff at Newtown High School was true to its name, which according to its Latin root (convocare) is a great calling together. The Board of Education, Legislative Council, selectmen, finance board members, school administrators, teachers, and professional and skilled staff members gathered to acknowledge the start of a new school year and to appreciate the portents in this moment of their togetherness. It was a group familiar with contention and negotiation, often with each other, in the cause of the district and its nearly 7,000 students. There was no disagreeing with First Selectman Pat Llodra’s observation, however, that “excellence in education stands paramount with all the core values in Newtown that we hold so dear.”
We fear that the sadness we felt this week when we first heard of the death of Julia Wasserman will be more than a match for our ability to cheer ourselves up with memories of her for a long time to come. To have her move into history from being such a vital presence in town, even after her recent retirement from politics, seems too sudden a shift. It will take us a period of adjustment to get our bearings and move on without her.
Twenty years ago, Newtown’s Planning and Zoning Commission implemented an innovative zoning concept to address its goal at the time of encouraging diverse yet compatible uses in Sandy Hook Center while preserving its essential character as a mixed-use hamlet with deep roots in the community’s commercial history. The Sandy Hook Design District (SHDD), as it was called, was an “overlay” zoning district that would introduce flexibility in development and design to the more rigid restrictions of the underlying zoning as a means to encourage economic growth while preserving the character of the place.
It is hot. It is humid. It is summer, and half of Newtown is without a pool.
It has been nine years since the pool at Dickinson Park was drained for the final time, with health officials and Parks and Recreation administrators advising that the 50-year-old swimming hole was no longer cost-effective nor a safe place to swim due to insufficient fresh water flow through the cement pond. The decision not to spend the money for replacement and renovation of the pool off of Brushy Hill and Point O’ Rocks Roads, estimated by a Boston architect in late 2005 to be upward of $4 million, left residents in the western portion of town without a nearby public facility in which to cool down on the hottest days of summer.