First Selectman Pat Llodra is recommending to the Board of Selectman that action on the community center project “not go forward as planned” on April 28, in a statement released Tuesday, March 31. “It is my belief that our community is best served if we allow ourselves and the community the time necessary to ensure that as many voices as possible are heard,” she wrote.
A community forum scheduled for Tuesday evening was canceled, as were forums slated for April 2 and 9.
Residents would have had the opportunity on April 28 during the annual budget referendum to cast a vote on the use of a $15 million gift from the GE Foundation for a three-phased community center project. She had indicated last week that a question on this project would be appear at the referendum unless she felt the town was not prepared to vote at that time.
Public questions arose about the rationale and planning for a phased community center project with priority given to facilities for senior citizens and a community aquatic center, funded through a GE Foundation gift of $15 million.
The Water & Sewer Authority has postponed a public hearing on a 74-unit multifamily housing complex proposed for Washington Avenue in Sandy Hook Center, which initially had been scheduled for Wednesday, April 1. The WSA public hearing on local local developer/builder Michael Burton’s request for sanitary sewer service for the project known at The River Walk at Sandy Hook Village has been rescheduled to 7 pm on Thursday, April 9, at the sewage treatment plant office building on Commerce Road. Town Director of Public Works Fred Hurley that the hearing has been rescheduled to allow the applicant time to provide all required technical information to the WSA on the sewering request.
Police Commission members conducted a special meeting last week to discuss the traffic problems posed by the flagpole intersection of Main Street, Church Hill Road, and West Street. They invited the chief elected official of the borough to discuss the matter with them. But Borough Warden James Gaston, Sr, urged the Police Commission on March 24 to broaden its review of local traffic issues and to support having a traffic study performed on town roads. Police Commission members have been reviewing traffic data which indicate that during a six-year period, representing calendar years 2009 through 2014 inclusive, there were 94 reported traffic accidents in the area of the five-legged flagpole intersection, reflecting a high accident rate. Some of the collisions there involve vehicles striking the flagpole itself, as the 100-foot-tall steel structure is not shielded by protective barriers.
Organizers announced that the next Newtown Community Center Phase I Information Session will be held at an alternate venue on Tuesday, March 31. That session will be in The Alexandria Room at Edmond Town Hall, which offers greater capacity than the senior center, where the program was originally scheduled. Additional info sessions have been set for Thursdays, April 2 and 9 at 7 pm, in the Newtown High School Lecture Hall, 12 Berkshire Road.
Bill Halstead was honored by the Board of Fire Commissioners at the conclusion of the board’s meeting on March 23. Mr Halstead celebrated his 50th anniversary as a firefighter in January. Once the business meeting was finished Monday night, the commissioners surprised Mr Halstead with the honor. Sandy Hook firefighters took a break from their training drill to join the commissioners for the brief presentation to their chief.
With their 400 mile route displayed on a huge banner, a Ben's Bell dangling from the podium, spiritual blessings, encouragement from political leaders, nonprofit founders, a 12/14 victim's parent and the staff of Sandy Hook Elementary School, Team 26 departed for its third ride to Washington, DC Saturday morning, March 28. Amid swirling snow and decidedly un-springlike cold, approximately 150 residents and supporters gathered for a brief ceremony on the steps of Edmond Town Hall to bid farewell and Godspeed to the 26 cyclists and support staff accompanying them on their four-day trek.
All town fields remain closed, according to a reminder from Newtown Parks & Rec, which made the announcement via email Friday, March 27. Treadwell and Tilson artificial fields remain closed as well, due to snow cover and frozen sub-surface conditions.
After nearly three hours of responding to a room full of raised hands inquiring and commenting about a community center project, March 24, First Selectman Pat Llodra continued the discussion this week with The Newtown Bee. Residents have concerns about the funding, use of space, and how well the facility would serve Newtown. Many who attended Tuesday's info session were particularly concerned that the project, aside from the aquatic center, was mostly for senior citizens and not a true community center.