This is not an official document.  It only expresses the opinions of "About Town."

Lunch Box changes hands. "Workers...cutting long strips from the turf field...hauling them away as recyclable..." says FORUM.
At the Building Committee (r.i.p. Alternative Energy Sub-Committee) subject of "microgrid" comes up. The next flood?  Historic District on the cusp?  Lunch Box reopens!  Good luck to new proprietors!!!

OUR STUDIES OF THE SUPERBLOCK THROUGH THE YEARS...For Town Plan updates (earlier Town Plan) and the planning during Schools/Fields Project..
.now it is SAFETY

M.S.Wirtenberg watercolor
Any p
rogress on lights Did you catch this on CT MIRROR re:  Run off?

CENTRAL PART OF TOWN 2012, 2013, NOW 2014:  Planning for the heart of Weston taking shape...who are the major actors? Where's P&Z?  How did gun control get involved?
  Run off trend?

The two big issues for the project are moving the Onion Barn and how to phase the renovations/additions at Town Hall.  AND, how about a land swap in the Historic District?  Withdrawn for now - some new ideas for land lease perhaps in the wind...


At the Historic District Commission meeting at 2pm Monday, a preliminary presentation (not the latest drawings - in process) by First Selectman, Police Chief and member of the Police Commission show access to a new Police Department from Weston Road, pending approval by the State Traffic Commission. 

And although we can't quite be sure from the schematics we were given, looks as if Town Hall is almost doubling but via use of "lower levels."  Good luck to that, based upon the experiences the last time Town Hall was expanded...with expanding by half again as many square feet of rooftop and 100% increase in impervious surfaces for parking and access top the new Police Station, some heavy duty detention-retention structure will have to be designed to keep runoff from entering drainage in Route 57 - and flooding the septic systems at the Shopping Center across Weston Road.

After Board of Selectmen August 7, 2014

Watercolor by About Town
...Back to the drawing board for 177 Weston Road?  No mention of it!

Perhaps the long executive session with no decisions discussed it, or not, depending on whether there is a law suit on this  matter - no reason to believe there is, but we're not going to check - we're going to trust to the administration to be open with any news...

Does this affect finding a solution to relocating storm drainage system for Town Hall - Emergency Services Complex?  How is the search for a replacement location for existing roof runoff going and when will we know its results?  Don't know and not yet.

Do you need "high water" and "low water" level (i.e. Fall and Spring) numbers?  And then, the added amount from perhaps 100% increase in impervious surfaces (above, right) PLUS taking into account the possible climate change impact on storms...No mention, no info.

Town Hall used in emergencies - Library functioned this way, too, needs electrical updates!  As well as floor plan, room designation for best use.

Do you think that librarians and public libraries are becoming less useful in this digital age?  Think again!  Find out some of the many reasons why that is not at all true, in this exceptionally informative interview with the director of the Weston (Connecticut) Public Library.  WATCH NOW!

Again...we assume in reaction to Jonathan Law event.

Weston three-board meeting set for Wednesday
Weston FORUM
By Kimberly Donnelly
April 25, 2014

The Weston boards of selectmen, finance, and education are scheduled to meet in executive session on Wednesday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weston Public Library to discuss security issues.

After adjourning from executive (closed to the public) session, the boards are expected to reconvene in public session to vote on whether to approve a $4,500 supplemental appropriation requested by the school board for the purpose of hiring a security consultant.

Senior Center enlarged parking got OK June 5th at Selectmen!  Land swap coming?

Weston Senior Center expansion plans move ahead

Weston FORUM
By Kimberly Donnelly on June 5, 2014

Now that the Weston school board voted to let the town use more space for the Senior Center in the South House section of Hurlbutt Elementary School, plans are moving forward for interior renovations and to increase parking capacity.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said Monday that she hopes to have estimates in time for Thursday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting for re-paving a portion of blacktop near the bus loop at Hurlbutt. The plan, she said, is to use that area between East House and the playground for students during recess.

The blacktop currently being used by students, on the other side of East House near the Weston Public Library parking lot, then will be converted to staff parking. This should open up about 18 parking spaces in front of South House for use by the Senior Center. The increased parking will allow the center to expand its programming.

The selectmen are expected to look at estimates for asphalt and paving at their meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the town hall Meeting Room.

Any supplemental appropriation approved by the selectmen to cover the cost of paving will also need the approval of the finance board if it is more than $5,000.

Ms. Weinstein said she is hopeful at least the paving work, “which is key” to increasing the Senior Center’s programming options, can be completed over the summer.


Interior work may have to wait until next year, however.

Several changes are being planned to accommodate new school security recommendations now that the schools have given the OK for the town to use the extra space.

Renovations include replacing a locked double door between the Senior Center area and the rest of the elementary school with a solid eight-inch-thick cinder block wall. That change then necessitates adding more corridor space and a second egress due to building code requirements.

In addition, the extra classrooms to which the Senior Center is gaining access are up a small flight of stairs. A ramp will need to be installed for the space to be ADA-compliant, as will a new handicapped-accessible bathroom.

When completed, the Senior Center will go from having access to three classrooms and partial use of a multi-purpose room to having six classroom spaces and exclusive use of the multi-purpose room.

Ms. Weinstein said the architect did a walk-through last week, but still needs to draw up plans and generate formal cost estimates.

Since most of the work can only be done when school is not in session, and there are still many steps in the bidding and approval process, it is not likely construction will be able to take place until next year.


We are still processing all the tons of info we gleaned Thursday at a 6pm Board of Education workshop on space needs, occasioned by this letter, sent after Dec. 22, 2014 Selectmen's meeting.  Photos above from a devoted and serious Board of Education, Jan 22 in the midst of budget workshops, working through the numbers, trying to come to grips with what space might actually be available for the town as well as the Senior Center. 

Tune in for the Tri-Board Meeting Thursday Jan. 27, 2015 on Channel 78 or watch it streaming (if the WMS can get their system to work).

OMG!  January 27th to be an open meeting???  7:30pm at the WMS Library - watch it on Channel 78


THIS WAS A LEGAL MEETING - we don't want to have anyone think what was going on was not totally legal - very dedicated public servants, all!

Meeting literally "behind closed doors."  Although it was opened (without some of the participants invited present) @7:30pm.  Then we left.
Tri-Board meeting convened, vote taken to close doors (Exec. Session)...decisions to be made in public later;
Please note that Tri-Board meeting about School Security contract and later action to retain a consultant will influence anything that happens in the Central Part of Town.  Our sympathies to all participants - and there were oodles of them, with quorums Selectmen, Finance and Education present even at this early point.

First open meeting was Monday morning June 10, 2013 at 7:45AM in Town Hall Meeting Room below - follow their efforts in full here recent other Town Plan news about this subject ("Central Part of Town") here.

Our impression, while initially positive, takes note that their was a threat to open space the Town owns if it is not permanently preserved.  "Landbanked" purchases such as Moore Property has town hall investigating the legal standing of "passive open space" conditions.  The map of town land shown is very preliminary and not at all accurate - taking the "map block and lot" number of "town" property and putting it on a 1"=600' scale blank map with no legend explaining why Fromson Strassler was a different color and style from all the others.


...PROPOSED LANDBANKING BY TOWN OF WESTON:Special Town Meeting, January 9, 2003:  Town Meeting voters approved this action. Fromson-Strassler   gets a "yes" from both P&Z and Board of Finance (Special Town Meeting January 9, 2003);  P&Z says "yes" to both but Board of Finance says "no" to part of former Maurice Moore estate--then reverses itself and says "yes" after Town staff does more research and legal wording is changed by prospective seller...and Town Meeting agreed after discussion of both - standing count needed for Fromson-Strassler (not close when the votes were tallied);  voice vote all that was needed for Moore OK!


DOWN MEMORY LANE:  During the design phase of the School Construction project consideration was given to solar panels on the roof of one or the other buildings on the school campus.

Weston explores going off electrical grid

Weston FORUM
By Kimberly Donnelly on May 8, 2014

If all goes as hoped, Weston may end up “off the grid” — the electrical grid, that is.

The town is exploring the possibility of creating what’s called a microgrid in town. Don Gary, who presented the idea to the Board of Selectmen Thursday, May 1, explained, “A microgrid itself is really a sophisticated switching system and connection system. To that, you have to then add the source of creating the electricity, and you can do that in any number of ways.”

In essence, Mr. Gary said, a power source, such as solar panels, a turbine, a fuel cell, etc., creates electricity, and then the microgrid acts as the “heart or the brain” that carries the power to where it’s needed most.

Mr. Gary and Muhammad Zia of Honeywell Building Solutions told the selectmen there are several advantages to creating a microgrid in town. These include cost savings, the opportunity to use more efficient and more environmentally friendly renewable energy, and guaranteed power, even when the main electrical grid is down.

“It can run 24/7, but even when the grid is down, it can run on its own and serve [selected] critical buildings” in town, Mr. Gary said.

“We’ll be living off the grid,” First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said.

Past problems

Mr. Gary reminded the selectmen that about five years ago, the town was in the process of having a fuel cell built to help power the middle school and high school. Despite the availability of a $1-million state grant to help defray the cost, it eventually became apparent that Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) would not waive transmission and delivery (T&D) charges, making the proposal far less attractive than originally hoped.

The Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) didn’t think it could override CL&P and “it wasn’t going to save us any money,” Mr. Gary said.

Since then, however, the state legislature has passed energy bills that allow “virtual net metering,” and it is encouraging towns to create distributed generation and backup systems.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will help fund the cost of putting in a microgrid, Mr. Gary added.

The idea would not be to build something that would power the entire town; initially, at least, the focus would be the town hall complex and Weston Center, Mr. Gary said.

Mr. Zia explained that the more users that are connected to a microgrid, the less expensive it becomes. But one advantage of it is that it can be “modularized” so the town can choose specific areas or buildings it wants to include.

Conceptually interesting

The selectmen were not being asked to make any decisions about the microgrid, but rather to simply say whether they think it’s an interesting enough concept for the town Building Committee to pursue further.

Ms. Weinstein said there are a few reasons why she wanted the Board of Selectmen to have a public discussion about a microgrid now.

“It’s important when we start what could be a huge project that we have transparency of purpose from the very beginning,” she said. She doesn’t want the public to think the idea came out of nowhere, she added.

It also makes sense because the town is in the beginning stages of building a new police station and renovating town hall, both of which would likely be a part of the microgrid (she mentioned the possibility of solar panels on the new station roof).

And there are deadlines to be met. The town has until Aug. 8 to submit an RFP (request for proposal) in order to be eligible to apply for a $2-million grant from the state Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA). “If we can get an RFP out, then we can go for the grant,” Ms. Weinstein said.

Before that, however, the Building Committee will need to go through and vet the details. It’s a lot of work, she said, and she wanted to have the Board of Selectmen’s go-ahead before asking the Building Committee to move forward.

Selectman Dave Muller said, “Anything that can give us reliable power and at a neutral to negative cost to the town is worth having further discussion [about].”

Selectman Dennis Tracey, after ensuring the town was not committing itself at this time to a particular vendor, agreed. “Makes sense to me,” Mr. Tracey said.

Ms. Weinstein said she will talk about the next steps in the process with the Building Committee.

July 2013:  Always thinking ahead, Building Committee Chair. suggests alternatives...another item in the Central Part of Town came up:  a $10,000 plus fence that lets animals under but not kids...

Adding 14,000 sqft, we thought we heard, on to the rear of the Fire Department might be a better solution than trying to find space for the Police in Town Hall, above left.

It looks like the Global Facilities Committee will be where the action will be as it gropes for places to put employees as more short term solutions disappear one at a time.  The Police Department will have to fit into the Town Hall complex somehow, as we sense that they have been told to try this first.  Please remember that the Town Hall complex is in an Historic Distrct and just got a new roof a few years ago that should have lasted for the ages. 

Renovation may be a problem at Town Hall unless, in the New England tradition, the Building Committee can find a way to work with the Police Study architect and find an appropriate part of the complex for adding on a structure that complements the Fire Department and possibly take some of the Hurlbutt softball field (my idea). 

Wetlands mitigation project to get fencing - doesn't require E.P.A. O.K.?  Board of Selectmen seems to want to create a nice, safe nuisance-free environment on School Road.

In any event, it appears to me that using School Road has been dismissed as a proper location for the police - partly because of traffic and access, and mostly because it is not considered appropriate for Weston children to be near:  1)alleged criminals  2)potential police brutality  3)anybody other than caregivers or teachers.  Considering that one of my favorite policemen was run over by a parent a few years ago, this might be the safest option for the police, too!


Firearms restriction on target practice questioned #1 - nobody complained about #2 Code Book.  Not a big turnout, for #3 public hearing, but it was monsoon season out there!  Those favoring the proposition strongly outnumbered others who came out.  Good questions asked by those who are not completely convinced. 
Speakers:  4 "YES," 1 "NO," 1 "NO" UNLESS NET $$ NEUTRAL," and two who asked for more information. 
Joint Meeting discussed it later (r.-photo, minus Board of Education representatives, is what it looked like on Town TV, however).

Board of Selectmen discusses the testimony offered at 48 Norfield Road Public Hearing regarding date for Special Town Meeting and detail needed for "call."  At 7:51pm the Board of Selectmen began their meeting.  Appointments to Board of Education and Children and Youth;  Charter Revision new faces (check gentleman in the photo on the right in audience) plus Ken, Woody, Nina, Arne from previous Commission.   Then there a was a Joint Meeting with the Board of Finance - action taken on repair/replacement of fibre optic lines between schools and  Town Hall.  Joint Selectmen-Finance decision on safety options for school, which may have include extra "officers" for the schools.

90 minute  Executive Session - longer that Selectmen's meeting itself!!! We left at 11pm, having had enough for one day (we attended the Global Facilities Committee meeting at 7:45AM previously).  

And as for 48 Norfield Road...we wonder when the Selectmen plan to publish the Call, what the call will look like and who will actually show up for Special Town Meeting...and what alternative (s) for financing the purchase will we have...


Loud and sustained applause at one point for pro-lights group.  (Most of the audience came from the fund raising group and sports clubs.)  So when one neighbor was brave enough to speak, "About Town" made sure to applaud for her and fortunately others joined in.)

In the discussion prior to voting on the M.O.U. there were some points that went by the boards, such as pointing out that an M.O.U. between the Board of Education and the Board of Selectmen, even with an advisory committee for the first year made up of 2 neighbors and three others, really isn't something to hang your hat on if you are a neighbor.  Hope I'm wrong!!!



Let there be lights, and the old..."no public money" claim.

Committee Forms To Bring Lights To Weston High School Stadium - first report in the FORUM on Dec. 12
The Daily Voice printed the same release on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013

WESTON, Conn. -- A committee has formed in town to bring lights to the football field at Weston High School.  The group, named the Weston Lights Committee, was formed to plan and fund the installation of state-of-the-art lights on the high school stadium field. The project will be 100 percent privately funded at no cost to Weston residents.

“The schools are Weston’s community center,’’ said Michael Carter, head of the Weston Sports Commission. “The place to celebrate and gather for July 4th fireworks,  Memorial Day parade, Relay for life, Special Olympics and comfort stations after hurricanes. The hope of the committee is that stadium events will be regular community events. The more this idea takes shape as we talk to our neighbors, the more I see it as a social gathering place, bringing many Westonites together.”

The 30-person committee believe the lights could make the high school stadium a central gathering place where all Westonites may go to watch football, soccer and lacrosse and a place to safely jog and walk.

The project took shape this past summer under Carter's direction. It was formally presented to the Board of Education’s facilities committee in October. Since then, the Board of Education has held several meetings on the merits of the project and ensuring the school remains a good neighbor in the process.

The Weston Lights Committee was created by a cross-section of Weston leaders who are familiar with the school system, youth and high school athletics as well as town government. It was formed on the foundation that there would be many beneficiaries of this gift, starting with the youth and high school athletes and their parents, walkers, runners, and empty-nesters who want to stay connected to the schools and the town.

Many parents choose Weston to be part of a small close community, Carter said. Families tend to be active participants in their children’s education; coaching, teaching, rooting and volunteering, he said. After their kids graduate many tend to disengage with the schools and the town. The stadium can be another anchor to keep those empty-nesters connected, he said.

Kay Spencer, a parent of two football players and an active volunteer in Weston, remembers Friday night games from growing up.

“I love Friday night football games at our neighboring towns and would love for Weston to experience that environment and create those memories," Spencer said. "Friday night high school football games will bring the spirit and pride I remember to Weston and I believe will help fill the dangerous void on Friday nights for our teenagers.”

Several fundraising events are planned over the next several months to raise the $325,000 necessary to purchase and install the lights. The committee recently announced that the Weston Lacrosse Club-Paul Scheufele Endowment Fund  has committed $80,000 to the project.

The goal is to have lights in by next September, in time to honor the 25th anniversary of the last Weston football team to make it to the state finals. Two committee members, Eric Albert, chairman of Parks and Rec, and Greg Slow played for that team. 

Bridgeport accounting - thanks for showing us how it works - we could reinvent WMS into higher density mixed-use center, too!

State and Bridgeport tussle over $3.3 million for schools
Brian Lockhartand Linda Conner Lambeck
Updated 12:23 am, Tuesday, May 7, 2013

BRIDGEPORT -- Mayor Bill Finch's administration is negotiating feverishly in Hartford to shrink a state-mandated $3.3 million spike in education spending that the mayor inexplicably left out of his proposed budget.

Since Finch did not include the money in his 2013-14 fiscal plan, Bridgeport officials are now trying to convince the state they should not be on the hook for the $3.3 million because of all the unreimbursed "in-kind" school expenses the city covers.

"If a city takes over some $1 million activity for the (school) board, they get a credit, or vice versa," said Ben Barnes, head of the state Office of Policy and Management, who participated in a conference call on the topic Friday with the mayor's office. "So we've agreed to look for some additional information from them. (And) we'll provide them with some additional clarification of how we're interpreting the statute."

For example, Bridgeport's Police Department took control of school security. The city's public facilities department maintains the district's buildings.  If the city expanded those activities, it could count toward its school spending requirement... 


That's what I got out of this open discussion!  What a terrific idea to have the people of Weston give their two cents before they vote on whether to really give their...two cents or more like  upwards of $750k.  BASE MAP IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION, NORTH UP -  ENLARGEMENT.  NOTE:  New aerial photos to be available later in the year - to be flown before the leaves come out - watch those maples - according to one DPW director from another town, once the maples have buds, it is only a week until they burst!

We've been thinking about the Central Part of Town as a study for so many years it is getting embarassing...

Board of Selectmen
And more specifically, the First Selectman, first stop in the budget process...externalities influencing local plans


LAND PURCHASE 48 NORFIELD ROAD surfaces as an opportunity...First speaker was Robert Schaff (sp?) Total of 11 speakers - no one out and out said "don't buy it" and a majority understood and were in favor of the "superblock" concept and the need for a Master Plan for it.  Points made were that the 48 Norfield Road corner should be purchased because you can't make a map and plan for things you don't own.  It already took a year to negotiate the $750,000 price, the First Selectman reported.

Board of Education

Police Commission
Involved more than ever since Sandy Hook

Building Committee?
The people who were trusted with Town-School project?  Who commissioned Kaestle-Boos study?

Planning & Zoning Commission?
The people who wrote the Town Plan of Conservation and Development 2010.  Planning and Zoning Commission offered the information that there are approximately 200 buildable lots left in town at the Police Commission meeting January 10, 2013.


The newest volunteer boards with links on Town website (Sustainability, Volunteer Coalition)?

The people?  Who or what else? 

Board of Finance!  Newly empowered in the new Charter to do more than ever before...the link to this item.




This was the same presentation offered at the Board of Selectmen Dec. 6, 2012

We felt safe because Boy Scouts seated in row behind us.  First item:  Joint Building Committee/Police Commission review of architect's proposal for $25,000 needs study - three Boards mentioned as responsible - Selectmen, Police and Building Committee.

Public commented on Gun Ordinance item even though there was no discussion by the Police Commission because the January 2, 2013 draft was purported to have been changed...

Sgts. Daubert and Ferullo, Chief Troxell answered questions from citizens, and Commissioner Ottomano responded.

So how did the Charter Revision Commission get a pass on this same type of procedure?   Ans.  Because no one called them on it.

Is the new location for Selectmen's meeting 7:30pm, Jan. 17, 2012.  F.O.I. not in play as there has been warning of the change in location in advance.

NEWS ALERT: Selectman recommends deferring gun ordinance revisions - MORE HERE
Weston FORUM
By Kimberly Donnelly on January 14, 2013

NEWS ALERT: Weston Selectman Dennis Tracey is recommending the Board of Selectmen put off revising an existing town firearms ordinance until after state and federal legislators consider the issues involved.

Mr. Tracey and the other two selectmen, David Muller and First Selectman Gayle Weinstein, will discuss his latest recommendations at the Board of Selectmen meeting scheduled for this Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m. The meeting venue has been changed from town hall to the Weston Middle School auditorium.

Ms. Weinstein said Monday that because Mr. Tracey sent his report to the selectmen, it is a public document, and so the town is releasing it as a press release to the public at this time because there is “a lot of interest in this in town.” However, she said she will not comment on the report or on Mr. Tracey’s recommendations until the full board has an opportunity to review it at the public meeting.

The current working draft of a proposed revision to the town’s existing firearms ordinance includes provisions that would:

    Ban assault weapons, automatic weapons, and high-capacity magazines which are “not appropriate for our town for sporting purposes.”
    Require safe and secure storage of weapons when they are not being used.
    Require registration of all firearms in town.

Mr. Tracey states in the report he forwarded this week to the selectmen that since the board last met on Jan. 3 to discuss the gun ordinance, he has, as directed by the board, had “a significant number of discussions … with many members of the community and a review [has been] made of constitutional and legal standards.”

Based on those discussions, and “in light of the broader discussions taking place” at the state and federal levels, Mr. Tracey’s report states, “I recommend that the board defer consideration of any revisions to the existing ordinance in order to allow the state and federal governments to consider the issues.  Should there be a need after those discussions are concluded for reconsideration of the Weston ordinance, the board can consider doing so at that time.”

In his report, Mr. Tracey also states, “There have been a number of inaccurate media reports on the current discussions. It is not, and never has been, the purpose of the ordinance to ban all firearms within the town of Weston.”

NRA response

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) released a statement Monday in response to Mr. Tracey’s report.

The NRA calls Weston’s draft ordinance a “misguided and far-reaching gun ban” that would “severely limit your right to self defense  and would subject law abiding citizens to discriminatory fees and regulatory schemes.”

In response to Mr. Tracey’s recommendation to suspend consideration of an ordinance change, the NRA said, “While this is an encouraging development, the fight is certainly not over because this is merely a ‘recommendation’ from Selectman Tracey. Weston, and surrounding communities, needs to remain vigilant and continue to contact town selectmen until they permanently reject this severe encroachment on our right to keep and bear arms.”

For the full story, see this week’s Weston Forum, out Thursday, Jan. 17.

Police Commission didn't want to discuss a draft that will change;  Chief looking to State and Federal action.

Weston officials back off on majority of proposed gun ordinance
By ROBIN KAMINSKI, Hour Staff Writer
Sunday, January 20, 2013 8:01 pm

WESTON -- After proposing a new ordinance banning the possession of assault weapons and changing town gun laws, Weston officials have agreed to back off on portions of the controversial topic.

The issue drew fiery resistance from both locals and out-of-towners who attended a Jan. 17 meeting to hash out the proposal.

"We agreed to table the discussion on the assault ban portion so that we can see what the state and federal levels decide to do," said Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein. "It doesn't make sense to limit the power of those in the neighborhood if the neighboring areas aren't doing the same."

Weinstein said the board also dropped a proposal regarding the topic of registration due to the public's right to privacy.

The board does plan, however, to pursue cleaning up an outdated gun ordinance, which dates back to 1990 and to enforce a storage component where gun owners will be required to store their weapon in a locked box.

"Number one, the storage component is enforceable, according to police and number two, it has to do with accidental deaths and issues with children getting ahold of guns," Weinstein said. "We had an instance once where four teenagers got ahold of guns and started shooting up mailboxes."

Prior to the Jan. 17 meeting, selectmen members reported receiving threats because of the proposed changes to the town's gun ordinance. Those threats were in turn reported to the police.

"Most of the threats were legal in nature, but a couple of the threats were targeted toward me and the other selectmen," Weinstein said. "Generally though, at the meeting, some people were really upset that we're not going to pursue stricter gun control laws, while others said it made sense (to hold off)."

The proposed ordinance was drafted following the Sandy Hook school massacre on Dec. 14, which claimed the lives of 27 people.

"We didn't decide to back off because of pressure or threats, at the end of the day, we have to consider what is best for the people of Weston," Weinstein said. "If someone in Idaho doesn't like our decision, but it's the best one for Weston, than we're still going to go forward with it."

Weinstein said she believes it will be a long and difficult road to creating stricter gun laws.

"I don't have a problem if people are target practice shooting with a single shotgun or hitting clay targets," Weinstein said. "I do have a moral objection over hunting, but I can see why people view it as a sport. But where do you draw the line from sport shooting to having weapons of mass destruction?"

Weinstein said she and her fellow selectmen members would continue to work on the issue.

CT "Home Rule Act" pages 10-13 for discussion.
Weston seeks ban on assault weapons as gun owners fume

By STEVE KOBAK, Hour Staff Writer
Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013 8:15 pm

WESTON -- Weston officials recently introduced an ambitious new ordinance to ban the possession of assault weapons and regulate firearms in the town, and the ordinance is catching heat from local gun owners.

Weston First Selectwoman Gayle Weinstein said the ordinance was authored out of frustration with the inaction on gun laws on the national and state level.

"I'm just glad it got the conversation started nationally about the need for stronger gun laws," Weinstein said.

Weinstein said an existing ordinance, passed in 1990, is in place, and the new regulations aim to strengthen the existing legislation. The new ordinance prohibits the possession and discharge of assault weapons, automatic weapons and any firearm with a detachable magazine that can hold more than ten rounds. It also limits the areas in the town where registered firearms can be discharged and requires gun owners to have a permit, specific to the Town of Weston, approved by the chief of police. Under the new ordinance, gun owners will be required to store their weapon in a locked box.

"It is found that the use of firearms and other weapons in the Town of Weston may endanger the health and safety of the town's residents," the proposed ordinance reads, in part. "Accordingly, it is found necessary to the general welfare of the town and its residents that the possession, use and storage of firearms and other weapons in the town be regulated and controlled, so that the health and safety of the town's residents may be protected."

Weinstein said the town government is still in the process of fine-tuning the new ordinance. Police found the new licensing regulations "too onerous," and the licensing requirements will likely be tweaked. A group of lawyers that specialize in constitutional law are also combing through the ordinance, Weinstein said.

The ordinance has met resistance from residents and activists alike. Part of the reason that the new ordinance was met with such resistance is that, unlike resolutions, the new measure directly affects the rights of gun owners, who will be subject to fines if they violate the law.

Richard Burgess, president of Connecticut Carry, a 360-member educational nonprofit dedicated to protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of Connecticut residents, said the proposed Weston ordinance came to his attention via a concerned Westonite.

"It's definitely out of the ordinary and revolutionary in the sense that it's remarkably stupid," said Burgess. "I've never heard of town officials being so full of themselves that they think they can do this."

Six members of Connecticut Carry attended a recent Weston Police Commission meeting, handing out talking points and speaking with residents about the issue. They also plan to attend the Jan. 17 board of selectmen meeting.

Burgess said if Weston officials pass an ordinance limiting the rights of law-abiding gun owners in the town, they can expect a series of costly legal challenges.

"We don't want to get involved in litigation, because it's going to bankrupt the town," he said.

Norwalk, meanwhile, does not look like it will adopt a similar ordinance any time soon. Mayor Richard A. Moccia, a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, reiterated his stance as a firm believer in 2nd Amendment rights with limitations.

Moccia said change in gun laws must be effected at the state and national level. If the state would allow the city to effect an ordinance at the local level, Moccia said the city would look into it.

"I'm not sure what, under the Home Rule Act, the city is allowed to do," he said.

Reflection of national debate in Weston?

NRA Says Congress Will Not Pass Weapons Ban

Published: January 13, 2013 at 10:32 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Rifle Association president says Congress is not likely to pass a new ban on assault weapons.

David Keene tells CNN's "State of the Union" that right now the powerful gun lobby has the support in Congress to block a new assault weapons ban, but he's not discounting any proposal backed by the full power of the White House.

Senior members of Congress have pledged to ban assault weapons and limit the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines like the one used to kill 27 people, most of them children, in Newtown, Conn., last month.

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to send a comprehensive package of recommendations for curbing gun violence to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, including universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.


At the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 20, 2012..."externalities" postpone further discussion involving school buildings.
Now what?  Plan 'B' or 'C' or 'D' coming?  Some planning perhaps,  post-Sandy Hook, but not in public. 

At the Board of Selectmen...Dec. 6, 2012 (before Newtown)

THE MOVING PARTS:  Schools, Town Hall, Jarvis, Historic District, Library, Fire Department, DPW, Bus Garage, Bisceglie Park - Center?

Police Chief explains why this storm proved that Regional 911 was not a good idea for Weston - unless "we build it and they will come" referring to other organizations that need 911 service and continual power.. 

The first step to renovating or constructing new facilities for the Police Department begins with chosen architect (experienced in CT and MASS as shown on map), who at this point is doing needs investigation.  Which is being done at the Police Commission-Department level with the First Selectman being included. 

Building Committee Chairman shown in middle picture - asking questions about what the architect thinks about the architecture here as it relates to his assignment in later phases of the project.

Then two items were added to the agenda, the second one by Selectman Tracey, regarding North House.  A long discussion/explanation was made, the end of it being that nothing imminent is going to happen.  However, at its Dec. 17th meeting, the Board of Education is planning to vote in favor of letting the Town of Weston use some or all of the building.  But only under conditions it - the Board of Ed - lays down.


Town officials meet, discuss ‘unified’ safety and security plan
By Kimberly Donnelly on January 11, 2013

When Weston’s first selectman met with several other town officials on Sunday to discuss security issues, the public wasn’t invited — and that was on purpose, not an oversight.

The meeting, posted briefly on the town website but then removed, caused some confusion over the weekend.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said Monday that she did, in fact, meet with several other town officials, but it was not a public meeting, and therefore did not need to be posted. Because she had reserved the room, an intern briefly posted it online, but the notice was later removed when the mistake was discovered.

“I have meetings behind closed doors with people all the time,” and those are not public meetings, Ms. Weinstein said.

Ms. Weinstein said the meeting Sunday did not fall into the category of a public meeting — for which there are state regulations for posting notices, agendas and minutes — because there was no quorum of any board or commission.

She said those present at the meeting included herself, the chairmen of the Police Commission, the school board and the finance board, the school superintendent, the police chief, and a police sergeant. She called them together to discuss safety and security issues.

“It’s important for the public to know the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Education, and the police will be working closely together to create a unified safety and security plan for the town,” Ms. Weinstein said.

The first selectman acknowledged that “the schools have an excellent structure in place,” but any incident like the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last month gives the town a reason to review its protocols and procedures.

“I felt it was important to have the principal stakeholders in the room at the same time to make sure we have a unified effort moving forward,” Ms. Weinstein said.

However, she said, it was not the time to elicit public input. “We didn’t discuss any nuts and bolts or specifics. This was a very theoretical discussion,” she said.

At the Board of Finance on Dec. 19, 2012:

6.    Discussion/decision regarding town and school facility use plans, including future use of North House.
7.    Discussion/decision regarding upcoming budget cycle.

At the Board of Education on Dec. 17, 2012...

NEWS ALERT: Weston school board tables ‘indefinitely’ North House issue
Weston FORUM
By Kimberly Donnelly on December 17, 2012

At its meeting tonight, Monday, Dec. 17, the Weston school board tabled “indefinitely” any discussion or decision regarding sharing space at Hurlbutt Elementary School — specifically the North House portion of the school — with the town.

The board had been expected to talk about and vote on offering part of North House for municipal use. Due to projections of continued declining enrollment in the district at the younger grade levels, the board had been considering allowing the town government to use the space. There was talk of moving the Weston Senior Center, currently located in South House at Hurlbutt, to North House so that South House could be converted back to usable classroom space. Whether other town offices could be located there was expected to be a part of tonight’s discussion.

However, Weston Superintendent Colleen Palmer began Monday night’s meeting with a discussion about the shooting at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, in which 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adults were killed by a gunman, who also killed his mother and himself.

The incident changes how administrators must look at the situation, Dr. Palmer said. While she does not fear sharing school space, she is looking at the emotions of the children in the school and how they might feel about it, she said. This brought applause from many members of the public in attendence.

Dr. Palmer recommended the board “table indefinitely” the North House issue. A motion to do so made by board member Denise Harvey was approved unanimously.


Soccer teams test NFA field's new lights
By Claire Bessette Day Staff Writer
Article published Aug 30, 2014

Norwich - High school boys' soccer teams from Ledyard, Griswold and Norwich Free Academy were the first to play games under the newly installed permanent lights at the NFA athletic field Thursday evening.
NFA Athletic Director Gary Makowicki said the three teams played a series of half-game pre-season scrimmages Thursday evening after Musco Sports Lighting of Iowa tested the new lights the previous evening.

"Everyone who was there last night was impressed with how well the field was lit," Makowicki said Friday.

Makowicki said technical tests still are needed to ensure the entire field is receiving even, consistent light from the new towers.

"Though technologically advanced, the equipment still needs a lot of fine-tuning. Technicians from Musco Lighting will be visiting us several times in the next weeks to calibrate the lighting for maximum efficiency and effectiveness," NFA spokesman Geoff Serra said.

NFA plans a grand unveiling called "NFA Shines" on Sept. 19, the night of the first home football game between the NFA Wildcats and Old Lyme Vikings. There will be a pre-game reception in the Slater Memorial Museum Atrium, and pre-game ceremonies begin at 5:30 p.m. with ceremonial lighting.

Until then, NFA teams will use the lights for evening practices as fall sports get underway, Makowicki said.

The NFA board of trustees approved hiring Musco Lighting in March for $430,107 to install permanent lights at the athletic field for the first time in school history. The light towers are designed to project light onto the field and NFA grounds while not spilling into the surrounding neighborhood. Additional lights were added to the project for grounds security.

Makowicki said part of Musco's test next week will be to ensure that light "spillage" into the neighborhood is not occurring. He said the school received no calls from neighbors after Wednesday night's test and Thursday's soccer scrimmages.

Bristol Downtown Plan Gets Chilly Reception
The Hartford Courant
10:53 PM EDT, April 30, 2014

BRISTOL — Residents who have grown impatient about the stalled downtown revitalization were hit with fresh bad news Wednesday night: The work can't start without millions of dollars of public financing.

Even then, there's little interest from major retailers in locating downtown, so the overwhelming bulk of the project's first phases would have to be apartments, without the complex of stores and restaurants that residents wanted.

"We're not magicians," Renaissance Downtowns President Don Monti told a small, mostly glum audience at a meeting of the Bristol Downtown Development Corp.

"We're devastated. This isn't what we wanted," resident Rochelle Levins said, summing up the reaction of several people.

Renaissance, the Long Island company that has spent four years trying to line up investors and commercial tenants for Depot Square, reported that the average incomes in Bristol don't meet the standards that private equity investors would demand to fund the whole project. The best way to proceed is with a mix of private financing and $6 million in bonds issued as "tax increment financing," in which future new tax revenue from the complex is used to pay off the debt, Renaissance has said.

"We're seeing disappointment. People hoped they'd have broken ground last year, that a Christmas Tree shop would be here by now," said Gardiner Wright, a member of the BDDC, the city-appointed agency that's overseeing the project. "I'm disappointed that we don't have buildings up already. But this is Bristol, not Greenwich."

Monti told the audience that the situation is simple: "The numbers either work or they don't. Bristol either wants to see economic development in the community or it doesn't."

Renaissance maintains that if it can start with a 100-apartment building followed by a 200-unit building with roughly 20,000 square feet of retail, it would be able to attract more interest from major investors and retail chains because there'd be a larger, more affluent customer base downtown.

The city project is proposed for a 17-acre vacant lot in the heart of the city.

The BDDC must review Renaissance's proposal and decide whether to forward it to the city council. Privately, many politicians from both parties said they have been reluctant to jettison Renaissance because there is no "Plan B" available.

Former Mayor William Stortz criticized the BDDC for doing little to publicize the meeting, and for releasing the 38-page proposal only shortly beforehand. The session was held in a tiny city hall room without space to accommodate even a small crowd; roughly a dozen people had to stand outside in a hallway.

"This is a poor way to get the public involved and have confidence in the process," he said. "People weren't prepared. This isn't the right way to run a railroad."

Renaissance had gone to nearly the last possible day to meet its contractual deadline for producing a formal plan. It submitted the document to the BDDC, which said it couldn't release the document until Renaissance authorized it on Wednesday.

Copyright © 2014, The Hartford Courant

Lawmakers Question Police Dispatch Consolidation Effort
by Christine Stuart | Nov 15, 2013 12:00pm

He was there Thursday to talk about funding for policing the two casinos, but lawmakers from eastern Connecticut wanted Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Reuben Bradford to know there were concerned about the consolidation of their dispatch centers.

Last year it was the western part of the state, now State Police dispatch centers in eastern Connecticut are being consolidated. At the end of October, Troop D in Danielson and Troop K in Colchester moved its dispatch functions to Troop C in Tolland. Troop E in Montville will be consolidated next.

The changes are part of a larger effort to reduce the number of state police dispatch centers in the state from 12 to 5.  In the western part of the state dispatch functions in Troop A and B were moved to Troop L in Litchfield.

Rep. Linda Orange, D-Colchester, wanted to know how much the consolidation effort in the eastern part of the state cost.

Neither Bradford, or Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes were able to give her an answer Thursday.

But Bradford said the consolidation effort was not about saving money—“it was a business decision that made use of our resources in the most efficient manner possible.”

He said in 1974 when he went to the training academy he went to be a trooper, not a dispatcher.

“So as a taxpayer I don’t want a policeman dispatching,” Bradford told Orange. “I want him out doing work he’s supposed to be doing.”

He said the barracks will still be staffed as they traditionally are staffed and will not be closing. He said it’s just the dispatching function that will be moved.

“It’s not so much a cost savings as it is a proper deployment of hazardous duty resources doing hazardous duty functions,” Bradford said.

Orange said she understands that, but she questioned the staffing levels. She said she knows someone who went to the barracks during the daytime to seek help and the doors were locked because no one was there. They used the blue emergency phone and were told someone would be there in 20-minutes.

“Twenty minutes is a long time when someone’s in crisis,” Orange said. “Twenty minutes is too long to come back to a troop.”

Rep. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, said there have been several incidents in the past six weeks where she believes public safety has been jeopardized.

“For a decision that was initially made to save money, it’s now not saving money, and potentially impacting the public safety and I’m hopeful the department will continue to evaluate this and determine whether or not it’s really working,” Flexer told Barnes.

But Barnes maintained that he believes the “model is more cost-effective for the state and certainly can be done.” He said in other parts of the country this method has been deployed across much larger geographic areas.

“There’s no compelling reason to believe that that in and of itself jeopardizes public safety,” he said.

In repeating a favorite phrase of the Malloy administration, Barnes told Flexer that “change is hard.” He said just because people on the frontline— in any part of government—are frustrated with changes initially is not a reason to undo those changes completely.

Flexer said the complaints she’s hearing from her constituents may not be related to the consolidation of the dispatch centers, but may in fact be a staffing issue.

At the moment it’s unclear which is really causing the problem, but legislative Republicans have promised to make it an issue in the 2014 election. The only two lawmakers to speak up about the issue Thursday were Democrats.

“It won’t be pretty if something happens that could have been avoided and there’s a lawsuit against the state,” Orange said. “Then we will have saved no money.”

Orange, a veteran lawmaker who also sits on the Public Safety Committee, said she was sent by former Speaker Moira Lyons to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 2005 to see their consolidated centralized dispatch centers.

“At this point in time Pennsylvania found that it did not work,’ Orange said. “Just keep that in mind as well.”

Oak Harbor gun debate heats up with walk out
By JESSIE STENSLAND, Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
January 21, 2013 · Updated 8:33 AM

No guns were drawn or even visible, but a councilman’s confrontation with an armed audience member ended dramatically Tuesday night as the elected official left the meeting when his colleagues refused to pass a motion to disarm the man.

The confrontation has amped up gun control debate in Oak Harbor, which mirrors many of the discussions occurring nationwide since the Dec. 14 shooting that left 20 children and six staff members dead at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  The question being argued in Oak Harbor is whether people should be able to carry firearms in public places like city parks or council chambers. Councilman Rick Almberg, with support from Councilman Joel Servatius, has taken a stand against allowing guns in such public places. Almberg acknowledges that the council may not have the authority to preempt state law, but he wants to bring attention to the issue.

“Currently, state law does preclude citizens from carrying the firearms in places like jails or courts and related facilities,” Almberg wrote in a statement to the News-Times, which can be read in its entirety on page A7. “So the issue is not whether possession of a gun in certain locations can be regulated; it’s a matter of which places state lawmakers are willing to regulate. In the view of recent mass shootings, I think this is a subject that needs immediate attention.”

Mayor Scott Dudley, on the other hand, said he expects the next council meeting on Feb. 5 to be very popular and that armed people may be in attendance. He said he reached out to a gun rights advocate who attended the Jan. 2 council meeting armed with a gun and suggested he may want to attend the next meeting; he said he hasn’t asked anyone to bring guns to the meeting, as has been rumored.  The likelihood of firearms at the meeting, in turn, has prompted council regular Shane Hoffmire to ask council members to move the meeting to a court or school, where guns aren’t allowed.

Dudley has been very critical of Almberg and Servatius for their actions and scolded them at the meeting, saying they weren’t living up to the oath of office. In an interview, he said Almberg should consider resigning if he has to leave a meeting just because people are demonstrating their constitutional rights.

“We have a couple of councilmen who have lost sight of what their job is,” he said. “Their actions are very disappointing. Ludicrous.”

Lucas Yonkman, an Oak Harbor native and a disabled Army veteran, inadvertently touched off the controversy. Yonkman was medically discharged from the military after being seriously wounded when his Stryker vehicle was hit by an IED in Afghanistan.  He attended the council meeting Tuesday expecting that an old city ordinance banning guns from parks was going to be on the agenda. City council members had previously refused to change the ordinance, even though it violates state law.

The matter wasn’t on the agenda, but Hoffmire addressed the issue during the public comment period, saying that guns should not be allowed in public places.  Yonkman decided to speak on the other side of the issue.

“I carry a weapon every day for the purpose of protecting people,” he said, later adding that he would protect any person with his own life.

Councilman Rick Almberg interrupted the public comment period to ask Yonkman if he was carrying a gun on him. Yonkman said he was.  Almberg then made a motion that anyone with a gun in the council chamber will be asked to check the weapon with the police chief, who normally attends council meetings, or to leave the premises. Councilman Joel Servatius seconded the motion. Almberg later said he would leave the meeting if his motion wasn’t passed.

Mayor Dudley was clearly not happy.

“The council is taking up a motion to take away your constitutional rights,” he said.

The other council members, however, were sympathetic to Almberg’s point of view.  Servatius said there’s no reason for armed people to be at the meetings since the police chief and other officers are normally present.

“Citizens have told me they are too afraid or too intimidated to attend city council meetings if firearms are present,” he said after the meeting. “This does not serve the public’s interest, it only serves to stifle public participation. ... There should be common ground between the law, individual’s rights, and public safety.”

Councilwoman Tara Hizon said the same logic that applies to the law banning guns from courtrooms should apply to council chambers. But she said the motion was made in “a haphazard way” and that it should be analyzed by staff before coming to a vote.  Councilman Bob Severns also said he was uncomfortable with guns in the chambers, but he agreed with Hizon that the issue needs more thought.  Councilwoman Beth Munns said she also feels it isn’t appropriate for citizens to be armed in the council chambers.

“I must admit I am very uncomfortable,” she said, “and especially if we have a room of 20 people who decided to show their Second Amendment rights I would probably ask to adjourn the meeting.”

Councilman Jim Campbell, however, said he was against the motion because it was made during public comment period, which violates council protocol.  Councilman Danny Paggao was absent from the meeting.

Almberg’s motion failed in a 2-4 vote, with Almberg and Servatius voting in favor. Almberg then stood up and left the meeting.  Mayor Dudley pointed out at the end of the meeting that Almberg’s motion would not have been enforceable. Police Chief Ed Green said he doesn’t work for the council and doesn’t enforce motions in violation of state law.

“We have a couple of council members, and these were the same council members who were trying to dictate whether you could wear a hat in council chambers, are now trying to take away your right to bear arms,” Dudley said, addressing Yonkman.

Downtown planners seek $175K for master plan
Paul Schott, Westport NEWS
Updated 5:09 pm, Friday, January 18, 2013

 A panel focusing on downtown revitalization wants $175,000 in town money to help finance a new "master plan" of development for the town center, a proposal that has won support from First Selectman Gordon Joseloff.

Members of the Downtown 2020 Committee say that, because of impending construction of several major projects over the next few years, the prospective master plan is crucial to address issues of downtown design, traffic, parking, landscaping, zoning and financing.

A new report by Downtown 2020 Chairman Lou Gagliano pegs the cost of that new downtown development "in excess of" $200 million.

"If we do not do a master plan, the planning that will happen will be iterative, it will be project-oriented and it will not address some of the issues that the community needs and the infrastructure that we need to improve in our downtown area," Gagliano told Wednesday's meeting of the Plan Implementation Committee.

A master plan is one of the top priorities of the Downtown 2020 Committee, appointed last year by Joseloff. Its scope would address some of the panel's goals for the town center, which include a "green necklace" of riverfront access, new open space and extended walking and bike paths; improved traffic flow and parking availability, and greater evening vitality.

A master plan is particularly needed to coordinate the large-scale development projects on the horizon in the town center, Gagliano argues. Those projects include redevelopment of the current Westport Weston Family Y site into a mixed-use development known as Bedford Square; building a downtown movie theater; a senior residential complex at the town-owned Baron's South property; reconstruction of the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts, and expansion of the Westport Public Library.

Flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy in the downtown area has also highlighted the need to plan for similar events in the future, Gagliano said in his report to Joseloff.

"The operational consequences of all those projects need to be thought through in a way so that we're not hanging a sign on those places in the downtown area saying `come back in two years when construction is over,' " Gagliano said Wednesday.

Downtown 2020 Committee members are weighing proposals from two consulting firms to produce the master plan. The Manhattan-based Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart Inc. bid $221,000, while the Philadelphia-based Wallace Roberts & Todd made a $285,000 offer. Downtown 2020 members will likely decide within the next two weeks which consulting group will be awarded the master plan project, Gagliano told the Westport News.

Before they received those bids, Downtown 2020 Committee members had estimated that the master plan would cost about $150,000 to complete, with the town asked to cover half of that outlay. The committee is now proposing that the town contribute $175,000 for the master plan, while any additional costs beyond that total would be covered by private-sector funding. Downtown 2020 has so far secured approximately $50,000 in commitments from private sources, according to Gagliano.

Downtown 2020's public funding request could go on the Board of Finance's Feb. 6 meeting agenda. If endorsed by the finance board, the Representative Town Meeting would also have to approve that spending proposal.

Joseloff expressed support Wednesday for town funding for the master plan, but noted some of the challenges faced by the project's planners.

"I commend the committee; it's an expert committee," Joseloff said of the Downtown 2020 panel. "The fact that they're signing off on this and recommending one of these firms in the end I think is significant. The problem is we're up against a timeline. Even if they report in eight months, it could be another six months after that until the deliveries are delivered or tried to be delivered."

Completion of the master plan would probably take six to eight months, according to Gagliano. By the time a master plan is completed, Joseloff may be out of office. He announced Wednesday that he will not run in the November election for a third term as first selectman. A possible successor, Republican first selectman candidate Jim Marpe, has also indicated backing for town financing for the master plan.

"I have a view that if the town doesn't participate to at least some degree in the funding, then the town, meaning the citizens, will not get the opportunity to influence the outcome as much," Marpe said Wednesday.

Not related to NYTIMES story...pic from Washington Times.  Commentary in NYTIMES says alot!

Manchester N.H. new police station on Valley Street is shown. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER) 
December 26, 2012 8:40 am: Good for the MPD to have space to grow and to finally be treated with the respect they deserve. The next obvious question is when will the educational staff in the city be given what they need to provide what the children deserve? 

Manchester police force's new home has twice the space, room to grow
By DALE VINCENT, New Hampshire Union Leader
December 25. 2012 9:56PM

MANCHESTER -- The phone number will be the same - 668-8711 - but that's about all when the Manchester Police Department moves into its new home at 405 Valley St.

The move begins Thursday, Jan. 3, when patrol, dispatch and booking will be working at the Valley Street site, with traffic and records still based at the 351 Chestnut St. site. On Friday, the records office will close at noon on Chestnut Street and reopen Monday morning at the Valley Street address, along with all other department operations.

Manchester Police Chief David Mara said the careful planning for the new building should ensure it will meet the department's space needs for the next 30 years.

There are extra lockers in the men's and women's locker rooms, a total of 265 for male and 39 for female officers, as well as more desks than are currently needed in several divisions and more cells than are needed on a daily basis.

"There's room for growth here," said Mara, who is convinced it will come, although he notes he won't be overseeing it.

Mara said the architects, Lavallee Brengsinger, brought in Ian Reeves at Architects Design Group in Orlando, Fla., an expert in the design of law enforcement and public safety complexes to assist. Capt. Fred Roach has been overseeing the project and is the real expert on it, said Mara.

Mara did homework of his own, talking with the Cambridge, Mass., chief when his department was planning and building a new police station in a renovated office building. After the project was completed, Mara said: "I went back." This time, he wanted to know what the chief would have done differently.

Mara doesn't expect to have second thoughts about this building.

He's proud to show off items as simple as covered parking for patrol cars that are out on the road almost continuously, indoor kennels for the canine half of the K-9 teams, private rooms for interviewing domestic violence victims, and lots of meeting/conference/training rooms throughout the three-story structure, things sorely missed in the Chestnut Street building.

He is very happy about the sizable room off the first floor lobby. "We wanted a place where we could host the public," said Mara, adding it can also be used for training and promotion ceremonies.

When it came to allocating space, Mara opted for a modestly sized third-floor corner office, preferring to use more of the floor space for a meeting/training room and outer office.

He's proud of his officers and he wants the best for them so they can be well trained and supported. "It will enhance public safety," he said.

As he conducted a tour of the three-story building, which has about 72,000 square feet of usable space, double the Chestnut Street space, he explained the use of each area and how it will improve the working conditions for his officers, which he says will work to the advantage of the public.

The new shooting range, with lights above the entrance and the trap area that indicate if the range is in use, is 25 yards long and 10 lanes wide. There's also a moving target and equipment to permit practice under conditions of darkness, flashing lights and other complications. "We can do all kinds of training," he said. "We can set up various scenarios."

One of Mara's pet projects is the new gym. He said he will be keeping a close eye on the placement of the equipment, noting officers hired after a certain time must pass regular fitness tests.  Because officers are increasingly faced by people who use mixed matial arts, there is a room, with mats lining the walls, for specialized self-defense training.

There is a room, or multiple rooms, for just about everything a police chief could want.

There's a special locker room for the 30 members of the SWAT unit, with oversize lockers for the special equipment they use. There is a room for fingerprinting and a room for breath testing for alcohol use.  A large glass sided dryer will dry items so they can be processed for evidence. "Now we use a fish tank," he said.

There is a room just for cleaning weapons.

There are multiple evidence rooms. There is a special room for storage of evidence related to homicides, which must be retained indefinitely because of the lengthy appeal process. Although all evidence related to homicides is processed by the New Hampshire State Police lab, it comes back to Manchester and is stored in the special room.  There are rooms for drugs and for weapon. There is a room where all the evidence needed for a particular case can be stored for use during trial.

There's a refrigerated area for items that must be kept cold and a series of two-sided boxes in a wall, so a sample came be placed in the box from one side and the technician can access it from the hall outside and take it for processing.

And there are rooms for files ... lots of files. Paper isn't disappearing from the police department any time soon.

Mara is particularly pleased that all aspects of patrol are now in one area. On Chestnut Street, he said: "Patrol was all over the building. Now it has its own area." And it, like other divisions, has room to expand when it needs to.  There are dedicated spaces every division. There is a cyber crime area for a relatively new crime that is on the increase. Mara said the Secret Service trains Manchester Police officers who work on computer crime.

The chief says everything was researched, even partition height in the multiple desk areas. Too high and people feel isolated because when they stand up, all they see is the partition. The lower partition level provides separation, but not isolation, he said.

The donation of desks, filing cabinets and partitions by Bank of America, when it closed a Connecticut office, was a big moneysaver. Fabric had to be replaced on the partitions, he said, but it was much cheaper than buying new and everything looks new.  No longer will officers be sharing desks, computers and phones and they will all have direct access phone numbers they can give contacts, so calls won't have to go through the switchboard.

Mara is also proud of the new dispatch center, which has its own isolated work area, is in sharp contrast to the Chestnut Street location just off the lobby. Dispatchers also have a well-equipped break room. There are, in fact, a number of well-equipped break rooms in the building.

One of the big things is having rooms and items in logical places. There are blocks of weapons lockers in the wall outside meeting/interview rooms. Rifle lockers are located conveniently near the exit to vehicles, so the long guns can be taken out of the locker and put into the vehicle trunk at the start of a shift and removed from the trunk and safely store away at the end.

Most of the building will be off limits to the general public, but the area for reception and records and gun permits is more spacious than at Chestnut Street. In addition, sex offenders will have their own area for reporting.

The new building on Valley Street not only gives the Manchester Police Department room to grow, it gives the current 214 sworn officers and 60 plus civilian staff room to stand up and stretch and to give up sharing desks, chairs and phones. Mara sees that as a pyschological benefit of the new building that is a bonus for police and the public.