By Meghan Peterson.
On Monday, January 10, 2022, the Haddam Board of Selectmen (BOS) held its first regular meeting in the new year. The meeting was called to order, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the meeting agenda was approved, and minutes for the December 13, 2021 meeting were approved as amended (with a change to strike an incomplete sentence within the original minutes offered by Selectman Kate Anderson).
During the public comment period, Haddam resident Maurice Adams asked whom he could contact for a copy of the Connecticut Communities Challenge grant application once the Town has submitted it (January 14). First Selectman Bob McGarry responded that Adams could contact Town Planner Bill Warner about that matter.
McGarry provided an update on a variety of projects in town, including the recent receipt of $1.8 million for Scovil Hoe clean-up. McGarry expects that finalization of paperwork and requirements “will fall into place.” The Beaver Meadow Road culvert project came in under the bidding price and estimated cost. Bids have also come in for the Bridge Road sidewalks, with the low bid being over the project price. According to McGarry, the increased Town’s portion will have to be approved at a Town meeting. The Blueway Commons, Brookes Court, and Island Dock Road projects are all “moving forward.”
Scott Brookes’ term as Town Clerk ended on December 31, 2021. Bob Siegrist became Town Clerk on January 4, 2022. There was a luncheon held for Brookes to thank him for his service to Haddam.
A new Building Inspector has been hired. Robert Ruzzo was the building inspector for South Windsor.
Coronavirus cases are “rising dramatically,” McGarry stated. There have been home test and mask distributions at Haddam Killingworth High School. He noted the State of Connecticut has a website that contains videos on how to utilize different kinds of home tests. Old Saybrook has opened a new drive-thru test center, McGarry pointed out. “Vaccinations are available, as are boosters,” although McGarry noted that he has “no idea” who is eligible for those, as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps changing its guidance.
Selectman Kate Anderson announced that the Economic Development Commission (EDC) is “getting ready to tackle 2022” and meets the second Wednesday of each month.
Jen Favalora, of the Regional School District #17 Board of Education (BOE) offered an overview of recent developments within the district’s schools. The cast of Lion King put on a show at HKIS before a live audience. Students participated in a robotics competition. Numerous bills are before the Connecticut General Assembly (the state legislature) pertaining to mental health days for students – among other schools-related topics. Favalora noted that “many of these are unfunded” – requiring “extra resources from the district.” In December new BOE members were welcomed, and Favalora became the new Vice Chair and is working with Prem Aithal as a non-voting member on strategic planning for the district’s future. Schools are “seeing math and science learning loss” – among other components of the “new normal for students and staff.” Favalora explained that the district is working both to adjust and accelerate academic growth, including social and mental health, wellness and building school culture in which students “feel they are respected.” She directed residents to visit the district website: rsd17.org for more information.
Next, the BOS approved all four motor vehicle tax refunds.
The board then made appointments: two to the Merit Service Retirement Board (Tom Danaher and Michael Mancuso); one to the Board of Finance Alternate position (Constance Pullman), after Dave Challenger resigned due to a move out of state. The Board unanimously approved the three appointments.
Discussion followed about three remaining business items: line of succession, the BOS regular meeting plan for 2022, and scheduling of a Town meeting. If McGarry is unable to perform duties as First Selectman, responsibilities would go to Selectman Sean Moriarty and then to Selectman Kate Anderson.
The second Monday of each month will continue to be the BOS meeting day.
Finally, a Town meeting was scheduled for Thursday, January 27 to approve several fiscal items, including year-end transfers and permission to utilize $60,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to pay for technology installation at the old Town Hall to test hybrid online and in-person meetings.
The meeting adjourned. The next regular meeting will be Monday, February 14, 2022.