The Board of Education postponed a decision on its five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) during its meeting Tuesday, August 18, and discussed looking at a proposed Hawley Elementary School heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) project further. As explained by school board CIP/Finance/Facilities Committee member Kathy Hamilton, changes to the board’s proposed CIP for 2016 through 2021 include a Middle Gate Elementary School boiler and lighting upgrade, a revision to the Newtown High School roof project, and a new project to replace the turf field at NHS, to meet the recommended ten-year replacement. According to Ms Hamilton, last year’s CIP had Middle Gate’s HVAC project planned to be completed in 2017-18, and it was moved ahead to the 2016-17 year, “so that they could take advantage of a program that is being offered by [Eversource].”
State police report that motorist Luis Hernan Camas-Matute, 32, of Danbury was driving a vehicle westward on Interstate 84, near Exit 10, about 8:09 pm on August 11, when the vehicle went off the road and knocked over two traffic signs, after which it reentered the road. Camas-Matute was not injured.
State police charged him with driving under the influence, failure to drive in the proper lane, improper entry/exit at a limited access highway, and improper parking.
He was released on $1,000 bail for an August 21 court appearance. Read more about recent police activity in this week's report.
After the tragic death of their 6-year-old son Dylan in the Sandy Hook School shooting, Nicole and Ian Hockley established Dylan’s Wings of Change, a foundation dedicated to the memory of Dylan that is committed to helping children with autism and other related conditions achieve their full potential.
“While many organizations have a philosophy of inclusion, they lack an easy framework to foster awareness and acceptance of physical, intellectual, and behavioral differences to achieve a supportive environment for all,” Ian Hockley said.
Erin and Jeromie Schumacher, athletics coaches from Middlebury, joined Dylan’s Wings of Change with a program concept they were developing, titled “Wingman.”
A years-long wish has come true for officials hoping to raze old buildings at Fairfield Hills. Residents at a town meeting Monday, August 17, approved $5 million in funding, an estimated $4.3 to $4.5 million of which will be used to remediate and raze Canaan House. Predemo work should start in the fall. Fairfield Hills Authority Chairman Thomas Connors said there is no specific plan for the area where the Canaan House now stands, “although parking and making space for the community center seems like it is where it’s headed.” Land Use Agency Director George Benson said that as redevelopment takes place in that area, they are also trying to save Plymouth Hall for reuse, “We are trying to continue cleaning up that area, and once [Canaan] is down we’ll figure it out; nothing has been decided at this point.” Demolition at Fairfield Hills is a continuing process, he said.
Following discussion at an August 20 meeting, Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members unanimously approved the construction of the River Walk at Sandy Hook Village, a 65-unit condominium complex planned for the west side of Washington Avenue in Sandy Hook Center, near the Pootatuck River.Voting in favor of the housing project were P&Z Chairman Robert Mulholland and members Michael Porco, Sr, Jim Swift, Frank Corigliano, and Fredrick Taylor.
The National Rifle Association’s national political action committee appears to have illegally funded Connecticut political spending, according to a complaint filed with the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission by Connecticut citizens and gun safety advocates on August 19. The complaint charges that the NRA’s federal PAC likely funneled improper campaign contributions to state politicians, and appears to have secretly given their state affiliate as much as $20,000, in violation of Connecticut state law. Among those filing the suit is the brother of one of the teachers killed on 12/14, a Sandy Hook resident, and the daughter of a Sandy Hook Elementary School second grade teacher.
First Selectman Pat Llodra has color-coded a half-dozen projects and corresponding $27 million in potential future bonding in the new Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), that are essentially in limbo until two appointed committees and, to a lesser extent, the Board of Education render recommendations on the future use of local school facilities, several other town-owned buildings, and a $15 million gift from the General Electric corporation. On Monday, August 17, the Board of Selectmen saw the first CIP draft, and heard about the significant number of “unknowns” that prompted Mrs Llodra to request an added measure of patience from the community, on behalf of the volunteers working to determine how these high-profile public projects will develop over the next half decade.
The town has received ten job applications from people seeking to become its new police chief starting in January. That person would replace Police Chief Michael Kehoe, 60, who will retire after more than 37 years as a local police officer. “We have a ways to go,” Police Commission Chairman Paul Mangiafico said this week of the candidate review process for hiring a new police chief. In June, the five-member Police Commission appointed itself as an “executive-level personnel search committee” for a new police chief. That committee also will include First Selectman Pat Llodra, who is an ex-officio member of the Police Commission in her role as the head of the local government. Mr Mangiafico said his goal is to hire a new chief by mid-November.
The Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) has modified its schedule for two public hearings to be held to review a mixed-use development proposal for Hawleyville, which would include a condominium complex, a church, and a diner at a site near Exit 9 of Interstate 84. IWC members initially had planned to start their regulatory review process at their August 26 meeting. But that review has been delayed for scheduling reasons, according to Rob Sibley, town deputy director of planning and land use. Current scheduling calls for the IWC to start a public hearing on the proposed 180-unit condo complex/diner at 7:30 pm on Wednesday September 9, at Newtown Municipal Center. As currently planned, the IWC may start a public hearing on the church component of the project on September 23. Both dates are subject to change.
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced August 19 that bow hunting on Sundays during the private land archery deer season will be permitted in most deer management zones in the state, including Newtown. There are three districts in north central Connecticut where the hunting will remain prohibited. DEEP Wildlife Division Director Rick Jacobson said the new opportunity for hunters “will support DEEP efforts to maintain healthy deer populations and ecosystems."