At a relatively short – but with standing room only – North Branford Town Council meeting, many issues and updates were discussed on Jan. 8 with the most heated concerns being brought up during the public comments as farmers and other residents discussed the ongoing problem of all-terrain vehicles in the area and resident Gary Cole delivered a speech regarding security at North Branford schools in the wake of the Newtown shootings.
Full stories to follow on both of those issues, but here's a rundown of other topics presented at last night's meeting:
The Economic Development Commission, in conjunction with the Agriculture Commission, will be hosting a Farm Dinner in September.
Town Manager's Report
Bonnie Therrien, interim town manager, reiterated the fact that the new trash barrels will be delivered on trash day next week with the brown barrel being for trash and the blue barrel for single-stream recycling. Those wishing for a smaller barrel the standard 96-gallon size can contact John's Refuse.
"It's great because you just throw it all your recyclables in one barrel – there's no sorting," she said. "Plus, the more you recycle, the less it costs the town and it helps our budget immensely."
Therrien also said the Stanley T. Williams conversion project has hit a bump as I-beams were discovered, forcing the HVAC work to be adjusted.
Route 80 Traffic
The last item Therrien's report covered was the traffic on Route 80 near Central Plaza as she found out earlier on Jan. 8 that the DOT would be narrowing the eastbound lane even more until the spring, which will "add to the traffic."
Therrien encouraged residents to seek alternate routes, particularly during high-traffic times, or allow for extra time to pass through the area.
Mayor Anthony Candelora then noted that he contacted State Rep. Vin Candelora as the traffic affects North Branford Fire Department Company 1. Chief William Seward, who spoke later in the meeting, said that while the traffic hasn't caused a problem yet, "it could impact our response," noting that members have to travel from home to the station.
"If they’re caught in line then the response for any type of incident will be impacted, which will jeopardize life safety in the community," said Seward, who said he contacted the DOT but has not yet received a response.
Seward then discussed the status of the fire department's capital items, saying he turned over the specifications for the new apparatus to Therrien that morning, noting that the remounting of the ambulance is planned to go out to bid on Feb. 14.
Therrien then relayed that the 2013 Potato and Corn Festival is set for the first weekend in August, suggesting that it should go through the Council approval process, which would mean the Potato Fest Committee would need to be appointed by the Council.
Councilor Vin Caprio said he would be willing to be a liaison to the committee and help in any way he could. The issue was tabled until the Jan. 22 meeting.
Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker updated the Council on the press box project at North Branford High School, noting additional monies have been donated.
The press box was designed in CAD by the students, who also built the four walls and the floor. The press box will have windows on both the front and back side so it can be used for both fields. The roof has been donated. The project is on hold until the ground thaws so the footings can be poured.
"It's been a great project for the students and they're doing a great job," said Schoonmaker.
When asked whether there would be roof access for taping, Schoonmaker said the roof is reinforced and a fence system is designed but noted there will be more restrictions on access.
After much discussion at a previous meeting about the future of Wall Field, Therrien presented her findings to the Council, saying that the field does not have to be immediately closed and that the insurance risk manager said he "didn't think there would be a risk but if there was a risk of balls going into the road, we should install fencing or landscaping."
Caprio reiterated his concern with the field being open with the ongoing construction, which is scheduled to continue for another year, along with the heavy equipment in the area.
Councilor Rose Angeloni said that with the lights at the new field, there would be more time into the night to play games and made a motion to close Wall Field, which was unanimously approved by the Council.
The Town Council unanimously voted to form a Tax Study Committee, which will explore tax freezes and/ or breaks for seniors, the disabled and farmers. Therrien said that once the committee is formed, it has 60 days to return with findings, the financial impact on the town and how it would be paid for. Therrien will be seeking members for this committee.
The Council voted to again use its $9,000 share of federal dollars that became available after 9/11 to the regional group, REPT, which uses its $540,000 for public outreach, capital expenses and training. The Town Manager and Emergency Communications Director attend quarterly meetings with REPT.
Therrien informed the Council about a citizen/resident medical insurance program available through the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities that would give residents access to a prescription benefit card that could save those with little or no insurance up to 45 percent. It could also provide some discounts to those with full insurance.
The program is available to towns in the CCM at no charge. Candelora noted the program is also valid for pets and the Council unanimously voted for Therrien to move ahead with the process.