By Ed Munster.
The Board of Selectmen (BOS) held a regular meeting on Monday, December 13, 2021 at the old Haddam Town Hall. First Selectman Bob McGarry called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectmen Sean Moriarty and Kate Anderson attended, as did Assistant to the First Selectman, JoAnn Ricciardelli.
The Board approved minutes from the regular November 8, 2021 meeting and minutes from the November 29, 2021 special meeting.
McGarry reported that remediation of the Rossi property continues. He and Town Planner Bill Warner met with Greg McKenna on December 8, who is still interested in moving Nutmeg Pharmacy and adding a medical office building at that location.
The Town has received a draft Financial Assistance Proposal from DECD (Department of Economic Development) for the Scovil Hoe property. McGarry met with the proposed developer, Parker Benjamin, Town of Haddam environmental consultants, and the Town’s environmental attorney to review it. DECD’s questions were answered, and some changes were proposed.
Bids were opened on December 8 for the Beaver Meadow Road culvert. The low bid was within budget, and Town Engineer Jacobson is reviewing it.
The Bridge Road sidewalks bids were opened on December 1. The grant amount will need to be increased. Jacobson is contacting the CT Department of Transportation (DOT).
In terms of private development projects, McGarry reported that a building application has been received for a 42-unit apartment project at 105 Bridge Road. A groundbreaking ceremony took place on December 12 for Blueway Commons on Brookes Court, which comprises 56 units. The first building is scheduled for completion by October 2022. Hope Gardens, a private wellness center, at 7 Island Dock Road is undergoing renovations.
In terms of personnel matters, the BOS recommended the hiring of a Building Inspector as a result of interviews which were held. Also the Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) position, which is currently vacant, will be posted soon.
COVID cases have been rising. There have been 55 new cases since the last BOS meeting. Vaccinations and boosters are available in town for residents to receive.
The Scovil Reservoir Dam (also known by some as Chatham Lake or Waterman’s Pond) was inspected. There were some minor issues such as vegetation growth which were noted. The report is being submitted to DEEP.
The composting project, which was approved for a Sustainable CT Matching Grant, is underway. Composting kits are available at the Town Office Building for purchase.
McGarry congratulated twins Alex and Bridgette Battistoni, who won a scholarship in the Connecticut Conference of Municipality’s “Local Government is Cool” essay contest.
Brenda Buzzi provided a report to the BOS from the RSD 17 Board of Education. Among the topics discussed was a plan to help remediate the loss of education as a result of last year’s COVID remote learning.
Tax refunds in the amount of $4,296 were approved by the BOS. Ann Riebold, assistant Town Clerk, who has served the town in a number of capacities over 35 years, has announced her resignation as of April 1, 2022. Mike Lafleur, President of Haddam Lions Club announced that the club proposes to construct an electronic sign for the center of Higganum to display notices of interest, meetings and town and organization events.
Finally, Town Planner Bill Warner made a presentation about a CT Communities Challenge Grant from DECD. The grants range from $1 to $10 million per project with a minimum match from the town of 50%. This grant availability is a recent development, and applications for this grant must be submitted by January 14, 2022. Warner described possible uses of the HES property and the Rossi property. These possible uses are based on suggestions from the charettes which took place approximately two years ago. Warner and McGarry both emphasized that making this application does not obligate the Town to purchase the Rossi property. The overall goal of the application for Haddam is to create vibrancy in Higganum Center. Some of the ideas noted include a multi-generational park and playscape, a community center and a senior center, multi-use trails and boardwalk from Higganum Center to the Cove, a new pharmacy, preservation of an existing historic building and a dog park. Warner emphasized that all of these concepts were items which the community has said it has wanted by virtue of community meetings over many years.