By Ed Munster.
This regular meeting of Haddam’s Board of Selectmen, held in the Town Hall, was called to order by First Selectman Bob McGarry at 6:31 p.m. Also in attendance were Selectmen Sean Moriarty and Kate Anderson and Administrative Assistant Joanne Ricciardelli.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the agenda was approved with the addition of an appointment to the EDC under old business. Selectman Kate Anderson requested that the minutes of Feb. 10, 2020 be clarified to state that if the school budget stays flat there will be an increase of approximately $1 million to Haddam because of the shift in the proportion of students in Haddam compared to Killingworth. With that clarification those minutes were approved. Next the minutes of the special meeting of Feb. 13, 2020 were approved.
Under Public Comment
- Jeff Dallas of Haddam Neck expressed concern about paving issues on Clarkhurst and Hurd Park Roads. First Selectman Bob McGarry thanked him and said he would pass the information to Chris Corsa, Assistant Director of Public Works.
- Next to speak was Melissa Schlag who questioned the amount of $20,000 in the town charter that can be transferred between line items without going to a town meeting. In a letter to her, FS McGarry said that the Town Attorney had stated that this was legal. Schlag commented that being legal does not make it right. She thought the amount should be lowered.
- Ed Schwing requested information on which roads would be worked on during the coming months to which McGarry mentioned a number of roads which were scheduled but cautioned that his list was from memory and that the full list is in the office.
First Selectman McGarry moved to his monthly update. Regarding Higganum center he mentioned that the EDC recently met with the Main Street Program which promotes the main streets of towns which have been hurt by malls over the years. Anderson added that the presentation given by Main Street is available on the town website. McGarry pointed out that EDC continues to encourage merchants to join and participate in the Merchants Association so that they can give input into the development of Higganum Center. Discussions continue between the town and the Board of Directors of a school which is interested in leasing Haddam Elementary School. The State of CT has a plan of Development and Conservation for the various regions of the State and the FS has asked the State to include HES and the Higganum Green in the Village Funding Priority Area for Haddam. Regarding the community septic proposal the town’s engineering firm and the Department of Public Health have been conferring about the process which is moving along. McGarry stated that when we get a community septic system there will need to be a Water Pollution Control Authority established. A draft ordinance to establish the WPCA has been sent to the town attorney for his review and comment.
Selectman Anderson reported on a new event sponsored by EDC called ‘Mucket Madness’ which she said is the brainchild of Mark Lundgren and will take place on August 15 and include a triathlon, a tractor parade, food trucks and possibly moving the September fireworks to that night. Regarding the Tylerville water project connections to individual properties is continuing.
As a result of the recent resignation of BOE member Gerry Mathews there will be a special town meeting on March 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the Firehouse in Higganum to elect a new member to the RSD #17 Board of Education.
The town’s budgeting process is on-going and the Board of Finance is meeting weekly on Monday nights to review different parts of the budget. First Selectman McGarry pointed out that the town budget is up almost $500,000, about $220,000 of which is due to HES, $50,000 is for tree cutting and $130,000 is for anticipated increases in health costs. At the recent joint meeting of the BOE with the BOS and the BOF it was learned that the education budget is being increased. That increase adds about $200,000 to the $1 million related to the change in proportion of students between Haddam and Killingworth so the total expected increase in the cost of education for Haddam will be about $1,200,000.
The nine town transit district is joining with the Middletown transit district and we are being asked to become members of this new transit district. There is no expected increase in cost for this as we are already paying for the service even though we are not presently on the existing board.
First Selectman McGarry reported that a few weeks ago there was a public hearing on the Tylerville sidewalk proposal. About 40 people were in attendance. Only one person spoke against it. The merchants were in favor. The presentation and other information from that meeting is available on the Land Use section of the town website. Finally McGarry mentioned that the town website has information about the COVID-19 corona virus from the health district. The town and school officials are in contact about the issue and townspeople are asked to take the recommended cautions but there is no need to panic.
Brenda Buzzi, liaison from the BOE gave a report on the February BOE meeting. The administration is considering a contract with Effective School Solutions which would provide in-house services for certain students with disabilities so that some of these students could be handled in-house rather than sending them out of the district to more expensive programs. The BOE gave approval to this proposal. School administration proposed a new math text book series for K through 8th grade which the BOE will vote on at their next meeting. She reported also on a number of capital renovation projects in the district.
Tax refunds in the amount of $12,626.77 were approved. John Pember was appointed to the Economic Development Commission. Recommendations to be made by the BOS to the Charter Revision Commission were discussed.
In the public comments section at the end of the meeting, former Selectman Melissa Schlag had a couple questions and commented that this is the first meeting she has attended since the new BOS has taken office and that she is “very proud of the way you all are acting right now. Coming from four years of pretty caustic meetings . . . I really appreciate the working together. I think that’s important for Haddam.”
The meeting was adjourned.
Editor’s Note: For the list of roads to be worked on this spring, please see this article.