Newtown taxpayers will foot the $29,000 bill to demolish what is left of a burned-out home, and to clean up the now abandoned and blighted property at 31 Great Hill Road in Hawleyville. The remains of a 3,400-square-foot home and surrounding property littered with debris, owned by Anita Pettengill according to town records, has been the subject of neighborhood scorn and countless complaints since a June 24, 2011, blaze. The issue first came up during a September 2 Board of Selectmen’s meeting when the officials unanimously passed a transfer authorization to move $29,000 from a town contingency fund to the Land Use Department to cover the anticipated demo and cleanup costs.
First Selectman Pat Llodra and School Superintendent Joseph Erardi, Jr appeared before Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Friday, September 12, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
In addition to receiving presentations from the panel’s Mental Health Working Group, Safe School Design and Operations Working Group, and Law Enforcement Working Group, Mrs Llodra and Dr Erardi, each provided testimony, touching on a wide range of subjects related to Newtown’s recovery efforts post 12/14.
The Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is Governor Malloy’s 16-member panel of experts tasked with reviewing current policies and making specific recommendations in the areas of public safety, with particular attention paid to school safety, mental health, and gun violence prevention.
Even Mother Nature joined the Newtown Forest Association’s (NFA) 90th anniversary Sunset Wine Tasting celebration Saturday, September 6. Lightning cut the darkened sky, driving many guests home. Sudden rain pushed others indoors. But moods of remaining guests remained bright. Although initially worried about the weather, NFA Treasurer Guy Peterson, a little damp, but smiling, said, “We had three wonderful hours.”A glance outdoors from the top of Holcombe Hill Wildlife Preserve — Newtown’s highest point — offered a panoramic view of a storming sky. On the hilltop facing heavy rain clouds and waiting for an-other streak of lightning was Connie Widmann. She noted the earlier “great turnout,” and said the evening was a “great event.” Soon joining Ms Widmann to enjoy the stormy view was NFA Secretary Aaron Coopersmith. The two stood near a gazebo on the lawn where several residents ducked out of the weather, but continued their own small celebration. Indoors in a small gallery filled with NFA photos and maps above the garage at the former Josephine Holcombe residence, Evelyn Watts turned her back to the weather and received a sample of wine from server Amy Murphy. With Ms Murphy behind the small wine bar was Isabelle Duval. The buildings at the Holcombe Hill Preserve were once home to Josephine Holcombe, and now belong to the NFA. The site is used as NFA headquarters and is occupied by a caretaker. Although many guests promptly headed downhill shortly after 7 pm to the parking area, others huddled indoors, wine glasses in hand.
Police officials plan to research whether adding more “speed tables” to the northern section of Key Rock Road would solve a motorist speeding problem there. That speeding occurs when westbound drivers on Sugar Street (Route 302), which is a thoroughfare with a 40-mph speed limit, turn left and travel onto southbound Key Rock Road and are moving at speeds faster than Key Rock Road’s posted 20-mph speed limit. Speed tables are broad shallowly-pitched speed bumps designed to hold down travel speeds in the areas where they are positioned. Key Rock Road is a one mile-long north-south residential connector road that links Sugar Street to the intersection of Hattertown Road and Poverty Hollow Road.The presence of speed tables has been a controversial local topic.
The Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) convened its hearing on a proposed 23-lot cluster-style residential subdivision in Dodgingtown on Wednesday evening, September 10. About 40 people attended to comment on the project and to ask questions about its development. The commission, however, put off hearing responses from the developers until a future meeting. Roughly the same number of people attended this week’s hearing as attended an August 27 IWC meeting that was set for the same topic, but at the earlier meeting it was learned that, due to a technicality, the hearing would be postponed. All property owners with holdings within 500 feet of a subdivision site must, by law, be formally notified of such a public hearing. That requirement, however, had not been met, so the project’s developer sought on August 22 and then received on August 27 the IWC’s approval to have the public hearing rescheduled to September, so that such formal notification could be fully made.
The Leaps of Faith (LOF) Adaptive Skiers based in Sandy Hook will be hosting its first “Ski Newtown,” a water sports event for Newtown children ages 7–18 on Sunday, September 21, at Eichler’s Cove Marina on Lake Zoar from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Preregistration is required for this free event. Call 203-426-0666.
In honor of the 13th anniversary of 9/11, the President has ordered that all flags be lowered today. Flags should remain lowered until sunset. President Obama issued a proclamation for Patriot Day; Governor Dannel M. Malloy and Lt Governor Nancy Wyman have also issued statements. The governor is also asking residents to observe a moment of silence at 8:46 am.
Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission is next scheduled to meet on Friday, September 12, at 9 am, at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. In addition to receiving presentations from the panel’s Law Enforcement Working Group, Safe School Designs and Operations Working Group, and Mental Health Working Group, the agenda includes a presentation by Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra and Newtown Superintendent of Schools Dr Joseph Erardi, Jr.
It appears that a $1.5 million capital allocation that has been pending for several years as the Newtown Hook & Ladder fire company secured and planned to build a new headquarters could be restructured as a grant, with terms. Until recently, officials were describing the assistance being provided so the volunteer fire company to establish its independent headquarters as a “gift.” On September 8, the Board of Finance reviewed language that member John Godin created and labeled as a grant, and unanimously voted to recommend the administrative change to the Board of Selectman and Legislative Council for approval. Town Finance Director Robert Tait explained after the meeting that in the unlikely event the fire company closes or fails to continue operating under its current charter, the town needs a process in place to recover some or all of the funding granted for the development of its new building.
The effort to better understand the public’s perception and behavior regarding tick bites and tickborne disease is stepping up, according to Health District Director Donna Culbert. “Newtown, through a proposal/bid process, has contracted with MORE Advertising, and is launching a short survey which will capture the public’s current knowledge and perception of risk about tickborne diseases,” she said in a release. The survey is available online as well as being available in print “for folks who may not have internet access or prefer to do it manually,” she said. The plan is to promote the survey through The Newtown Bee, the Newtown municipal website’s News and Announcements section, Park and Recreation networks, and parent, recreation and civic organizations in an attempt to solicit maximum participation and input.