With deliberations and the authorization by voters of the 2014-15 budget behind them, local officials are focusing intensely on the best way they see for keeping residential taxation in check — growing the Newtown Grand List. That means increasing commercial activity, supporting economic development, and aggressively working to retain or expand businesses already established locally. In recent months, officials have seen an uptick in commercial projects, as evidenced by the number of recommendations for the town’s business incentive plan that have been tendered by the Economic Development Commission. Applications for temporary and partial tax relief have been made or approved recently for the Villages at Lexington Gardens, which broke ground this week, the Summit @ Newtown at 146 South Main Street, another multi-building, mixed-use commercial complex adjacent to LMT Communications at 84 South Main Street, new medical offices at 12 Queen Street, and a mixed professional / office development adjacent to Maplewood at Newtown on Mt Pleasant Road.
The period for retired and certified Connecticut police officers to apply to become one of nine Newtown school security officers (SSOs) is closing at month’s end. Police Chief Michael Kehoe told The Newtown Bee this week that he has already received numerous applications for consideration. Officials including First Selectman Pat Llodra have previously said that a number of qualified retired officers are already working for the school district as unarmed security guards, and most if not all were thinking of applying for the SSO posts. But Chief Kehoe said that all applicants will receive equal consideration on the merits of their experience and one other key attribute. “They really have to like and have a genuine interest in our kids,” Chief Kehoe said of the SSO candidates. “On any given day they could be spending time with students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, so it’s important that they can work in that environment.”
At the regular monthly meeting of the board of trustees of the C.H. Booth Library May 12, trustees emeritus Mary Thomas and Kathy Geckle came to ask the board’s approval of a spring 2015 fundraiser they are proposing. Similar in nature to the highly successful 2007 gala event that raised $32,000 for the library, Ms Thomas and Ms Geckle presented their idea for a “faux fashion show,” featuring town employees, managers, teachers, business owners, police and fire representatives, and other well-known townspeople as models for fashions supplied by Danbury Fair Mall and local clothing stores.
A PowerPoint presentation by the C.H. Booth Director Search Committee brought new library board members up to speed on the process and evolution of the committee since the beginning of the year.
The committee, made up of board members Michael Talluto, Bob Geckle, Colleen Honan, and Pete Stern, along with staff representative Kim Weber, community representatives Joan Petersen and Christine Stowe, as well as Bethel Library Acting Director Lynn Rosato, is currently scheduling interviews with five candidates from 19 resumes received as of May 9.
With an expanded sanitary sewer system planned for Hawleyville, Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members are considering revising the zoning regulations to allow three additional land uses in the M-2A (Industrial) zone there. At a P&Z public hearing earlier this month, the Economic Development Commission (EDC), represented by Elizabeth Stocker, town director of economic and community development, sought to have the P&Z revise its M-2A zoning regulations to allow “distribution centers, warehouses, and/or wholesale businesses” in that zone. The EDC sought to have those land uses allowed in the M-2A regulations as “permitted uses.” On May 1, following extended discussion by the P&Z on the regulatory mechanism through which distribution centers, warehouses, and/or wholesale businesses might be allowed in the M-2A zone, Ms Stocker withdrew the EDC’s application. She later said the EDC would return to the P&Z with a “refined” zoning proposal.
The Water & Sewer Authority (WSA) is compiling a list of Hawleyville property owners interested in connecting their properties to the planned expansion of the Hawleyville sanitary sewer system. WSA members held an informational session on May 8 to to explain the sewer system expansion project, as well as seek commitments for sewer connections from property owners who own land along the planned sewer route. About 25 people attended the meeting. WSA Chairman Richard Zang said that the capital costs of sewer system construction would be covered by payments from the property owners who connect to the expanded system. Such capital costs would be paid off by the property owners at low interest rates during a 20-year period. Sewer users also pay sewer connection fees and sewer usage charges.
Police Commission members this week discussed the many issues stemming from a proposal to move local emergency radio dispatching for 911 police, fire, and ambulance calls from Newtown to a private, nonprofit, nonunionized dispatching center in Prospect, generally expressing skepticism that such a change would be beneficial. Four of the five Police Commission members met with Jeffrey Capeci and Neil Chaudhary, who are serving as an ad hoc study panel for the selectmen on the proposal to move dispatching from the Newtown Emergency Communications Center at Town Hall South at 3 Main Street about 25 miles away to the regional dispatching operation known as to the Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communication Center, Inc. Police Commission Chairman Paul Mangiafico said he had expected that the panel would make a recommendation to the town on the proposed change at the May 13 session. But commission members’ requests for additional financial information on possible cost advantages of such a change resulted in the need for more study.
Newtown Police Explorers, who are members of Cadet Post #823, received medals on May 4 for their performance in the Connecticut Police Stations Day sponsored by the Northeast Regional Law Enforcement Education Association (NERLEEA). The competitive event was held at the Police Officer Standards and Training Council’s (POST) training academy in Meriden. More than 200 police explorer cadets, ranging in age from 13 to 21, from Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire participated in the police-based events. The Stations Day competitions are based on the knowledge that cadets gain through their training. Subjects of the competitions included: firearms training, driving skills, searches of buildings, DUI enforcement, leadership, suspicious persons, tactical situations, high-risk and low-risk motor vehicle stops, crisis intervention, assaults, search-and-control situations, high-stress scenarios, and domestic violence.
CT-Moms Online, the only non-profit parenting forum in Fairfield County, has partnered with over a dozen parenting organizations around the area for the 7th Annual Diaper Drive. The drive continues through the end of May at all 17 area locations of Bright Horizons Early Education & Preschool, The Little Gym, Tumble Jungle (including the Newtown location at 224 South Main Street) and KidVille, covering spanning the area from Stamford to Newtown with the help of over 20 town coordinators. Started in 2007 by collecting diapers from 80 members in their private homes, this drive has grown from a few boxes of diapers to over 20,000 diapers in the month filling two storage units. This year's goal is to collect at least 30,000 diapers for ten local charities.
Today is Peace Officers Memorial Day, the national day to pay tribute to the local, state and federal law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. The national observance is recognized annually during Police Week, which this year runs May 11-17. Members of Hook & Ladder Fire Co #1 will be lowering the Main Street flag within the hour, in response to a proclamation by President Barack Obama. American and state flags should fly at half-staff Thursday from sunrise through sunset.