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The Board of Selectmen moved deftly through a busy agenda during a regular meeting April 16, discussing issues involving NYA Sport & Fitness, the Permanent Memorial Commission, the Cultural Arts Commission, and an unusually high rate of curbing damage resulting from winter and spring plowing.
On the request of Selectman Jeff Capeci, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal requested Public Works Director Fred Hurley to attend the meeting to discuss curbing damage across town.
Mr Hurley informed selectmen that the decision to begin installing asphalt curbing versus using other materials was made 20 to 30 years ago. He said the asphalt curbing is subject to the most damage from plows primarily during early and late winter when the soil behind the curbing is soft. He said plows cause very little damage when the ground is frozen and effectively acts as a shock absorber when plow blades hit the adjacent curbing.
A local policy of keeping the same plow drivers on same routes helps them become accustomed to where the curbing is on various roadways, adding that local roads are particularly difficult to plow with their many hills and curves.
Mr Hurley assured selectmen and residents that Public Works crews will start picking up damaged pieces and doing repairs as soon as asphalt plants open.
Mr Capeci wondered whether curbing was required on local roads by some sort of statute or code. The Public Works chief replied that typically curbing is installed to better direct water runoff into catch basins.
“Without the curbing, runoff will erode the roadsides,” Mr Hurley said.
Mr Capeci asked if a specified amount of the highway department budget is allocated to curbing repairs and replacement.
Mr Hurley replied saying the expense of asphalt changes over time, but curbing loss can vary annually depending on weather. He said his department has a curbing machine and also uses contractors to repair or install curbing depending on the timing and scope of the damage.
Mr Capeci then asked if damage could be minimized by plowing two to three feet away from curbing. But Mr Hurley said this would be unsafe and unacceptable because it would make the travel portion too narrow on most local roads, which are about 22 feet wide or less.
The Public Works director said he does not know if treated salts, which deice longer, contribute to the strength of the curbing materials, or whether a change in material makeup over the years is contributing to the issue.
PMC, CAC & NYA
Mr Rosenthal informed his fellow selectmen that Kyle Lyddy had resigned from the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission (SHPMC), and that until a new chair is named, he would be handling leading the commission’s meetings.
The first selectmen said that at the next SHPMC meeting, members plan to discuss whether someone from the commission will step up or determine if they want a recommendation of somebody to facilitate future meetings.
Mr Rosenthal said he appointed former First Selectman Pat Llodra to fill Mr Lyddy’s spot, elevating her from her prior advisory role.
“Pat is already in sync with the members,” Mr Rosenthal said, adding there was consensus among panel members to do that.
He said that the committee under Mr Lyddy’s leadership had narrowed a list of proposed memorial design submissions from 188 down to 13, and he hoped at the SHPMC’s April 30 meeting that number would be further reduced to three to five finalists, incorporating feedback provided by families and immediate survivors of the 12/14 tragedy.
Selectmen also were pressed to vote this week on a right of first refusal clause in the lease agreement between Newtown and the NYA Sports & Fitness organization, which operates the recreational complex at Fairfield Hills.
Mr Rosenthal explained that pending a planned ownership change at the complex ahead of the development of an attached ice rink, the lease permits town to buy the property for $6.5 million.
“We can proceed or waive the purchase,” Mr Rosenthal said.
Mr Capeci said he favored keeping the complex in private hands, as the pending buyers have experience running these types of operations.
Selectman Maureen Crick Owen concurred and the selectmen unanimously rejected moving forward with the purchase option.
The board briefly entertained and approved a request from the Newtown Cultural Arts Commission (CAC), which requested permission to provide or sell wine and/or beer to be served during openings taking place in the newly named Municipal Gallery at Fairfield Hills. The gallery occupies most of the common center hallway of the Municipal Center.
Mr Rosenthal said the Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers permits similar activities, so the CAC would apply the same standard, supplying a certificate of proper insurance, temporary liquor service permitting, and receiving case-by-case approval by the First Selectman’s Office.
He said the amendment to a current municipal facility use policy, if passed, would create an exception for gallery events, and would stipulate that any event host is bound to acquire and cover costs of all insurance and permits.
“It didn’t seem unreasonable to me to allow it,” Mr Rosenthal said. On the voice vote, that amendment passed unanimously.