By Sharon Challenger.
The Haddam Board of Selectmen held a special meeting on Friday, October 16, 2020 (via GoToMeeting) to discuss a resolution to make Sunday, October 18, 2020 Melissa Jean Schlag Day.
First Selectman Bob McGarry called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. Selectmen Kate Anderson and Sean Moriarty were present along with 33 attendees. Assistant to the First Selectman, Joann Ricciardelli, took minutes. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
Moriarty was asked by First Selectman McGarry to read the amended, proposed proclamation recognizing the environmental contributions of Melissa J. Schlag.
McGarry announced there would be a public comments section of the meeting and stated that comments would be strictly limited to two minutes per person. He asked that comments be civil explaining that he realized “Melissa brings up strong emotions in people in one way or another.” He stressed that the purpose of the comments was to allow people to speak about her environmental contributions only. He further stated that if at any time, the meeting became unruly, the comments would be ended, a vote would be taken amongst the Selectmen, and the meeting would adjourn.
McGarry asked Moriarty to make a Motion on the proclamation. Before it was read however, Moriarty offered a brief explanation as to how the subject of a proclamation came about. He stated that the idea came to mind after he and his wife attended Ms. Schlag’s funeral. He expressed there was nothing nefarious about the request to have it added to the agenda of the BOS meeting on October 13, 2020. During that meeting the friends of Ms. Schlag had hoped the BOS would take a vote to approve the proclamation. However, it was decided that a vote would not be taken reason being, it would not allow for input from residents in Haddam. In an attempt to promote open government, the decision to schedule a Special BOS meeting on Friday, October 16, 2020 was agreed upon. Moriarty reiterated that the proclamation is not political in nature, but simply brings attention to the work Ms. Schlag did for the environment.
It acknowledges the work done by Ms. Schlag regarding the Cove clean-up completion, her work to initiate the removal of the orange floatation devices marking off access to the canal on the CT River, her work to help purchase land for hiking trails, her involvement in stopping the land swap of property near Eagle Landing, and her work to help renovate Spencer Shad Shack.
After Moriarty finished reading the proclamation, McGarry restated that it is for one day only, and is not to be an annual event. He thanked Moriarty for his comments.
At 6:39 p.m. McGarry opened the discussion up to public comment remarking that if people agreed with the speaker before them, to just acknowledge this in an effort to help move the meeting along. Twelve people expressed their approval of the proclamation.
McGarry brought the public comments section to a close at 6:45 p.m.
Selectman Moriarty thanked McGarry and Anderson for their support and expressed that he has enjoyed working with them over the past year.
Selectman Anderson explained the reasons she felt a Special BOS meeting was necessary regarding the proclamation. She felt it needed to be publicized and advertised to give residents a chance to comment or participate in the decision.
She acknowledged and thanked the public for their emails regarding the proclamation.
McGarry called for the vote on the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
All business concluded; Selectman Moriarty made a motion to adjourn. The motion passed unanimously, and the meeting ended at 6:49 p.m.
Text of the Proclamation:
“WHEREAS MELISSA J. SCHLAG networked with officials at the Hartford Capitol to garner superfunds to remove pollutants from the Higganum Cove so it could be enjoyed as a public park; and
“WHEREAS AS ONE OF MELISSA J. SCHLAG [sic] greatest local/regional/national contributions was her successful effort working with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and CT River Conservancy to have Connecticut Yankee remove the floating florescent [sic] orange barriers that blocked the ‘public trust’ entrance to the canal along the Connecticut River; and
“WHEREAS MELISSA J. SCHLAG was instrumental in promoting the State purchase of 42 acres of the Kuiaski property in Higganum to be preserved as a State reserve, open to the public as woods and hiking trails; and
“WHEREAS MELISSA J. SCHLAG, directed Stop the Swap, a multi-town protest that saved Eagle Landing, 17 acres of publicly owned, pristine, Connecticut River land from falling into the hands of private developers; and
“WHEREAS even in her illness, Melissa J. Schlag recently spearheaded a work party to restore the historic Spencer’s Shad Shack; and
“WHEREAS she was a dedicated public servant, environmental advocate and a beloved friend in the Town of Haddam, in the region, and the nation,
“NOW THEREFORE be it resolved, that I, Robert McGarry, First Selectman on [sic] the Town of Haddam, Connecticut do hereby proclaim, Sunday, October 18, 2020, as
Melissa Jean Schlag Day
“In the town of Haddam and on behalf of the Board of Selectman [sic] and residents it is my pleasure to thank Melissa for all of her years of service to our community.
“In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Town of Haddam, Connecticut to be affixed this 16th Day of October 2020.