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!!!
OF THE SUPERBLOCK
THROUGH THE YEARS...For Town Plan
updates (earlier Town Plan) and the
planning during Schools/Fields Project...now
it is SAFETY
Any progress on lights? Did you catch this on CT MIRROR re: Run off?
CENTRAL PART OF TOWN 2012, 2013, NOW 2014: Planning for
taking shape...who are the major actors? Where's P&Z? How did
involved? Run off trend?
- NEW GLOBAL FACILITIES (GFC) PAGE; "GFC" page is for items that are really happening.
FACILITIES COMMITTEE meeting notes on what looked like (to About Town) TOWN PLAN
- Earliest reports; "Global" nomenclature for me means a broader view - not a silo for town, school or other individual power. It began, (as I observed) as an outgrowth of Tri-Board meetings;
- Weston Library has plans...
- CT Department of
Administrative Services "School Safety Infrastructure Council" report
and study of school safety issue here.
funding. CT Safety Proposal coming...
- Let there be lights!
- SCHOOL ROAD
traffic calming 2013-14
- Moving parts:
Relocation of Senior Center to Emmanuel (5 year lease)? Not this
year...make that a "yes" to expanding parking now and redoing space later!
- BOARD OF SELECTMEN DISCUSSIONS, 2013, ON THIS TOPIC:
July 8, June 10, March 21.
- 48 NORFIELD
ROAD SPECIAL TOWN MEETING TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013 AT 7:30PM, TOWN
HALL MEETING ROOM
business is this? Who makes planning decisions about the
center of town? P&Z? Where are they in this?
a committee is already investigating, and planning has gone on
already between and among
Selectmen, Board of Ed and Board of Finance "confidentially" prior to
- But now, a spirit of openness seems to be on the
horizon as the 48 Norfield Road property is in play! Let the
- Elsewhere...subjects such as
dispatch, guns, master plans in CT and other places.
CENTRAL PART OF TOWN - HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
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 Withdrawn for now - some new ideas for land lease perhaps in the wind...
EARLY REVIEW OF NEW POLICE STATION AT HISTORIC DISTRICT MONDAY AT 2PM.
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
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.
Hall used in emergencies
- Library functioned this way, too, needs electrical updates! As
well as floor plan, room designation for best use.
INTERVIEWS KAREN TATARKA, DIRECTOR OF THE WESTON PUBLIC LIBRARY:
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
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
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
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
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.
MEETING WENT INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION
PROMPTLY, JANUARY 15, 2014;
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
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.
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE FORMED IN 2013 AND NOW HAVING OPEN PUBLIC
MEETINGS - detailed
meeting notes here.
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
"NEXT MEETING" WAS TO BE IN LATE JUNE
DECISION ABOUT 48 NORFIELD ROAD IS MADE...NOPE, THERE WAS A MEETING ON FRIDAY BEFORE THE SPECIAL TOWN
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.
FROM A TOWN PLAN UPDATE PAGE - http://www.aboutweston.com/landuse99.htm
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!
BOARD OF SELECTMEN JULY 8, 2013 - FORUM
JULY 10 REPORT
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
CENTRAL PART OF TOWN - OR THE GLOBAL
FACILITIES COMMITTEE TERRITORY
July 2013: Always thinking
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
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).
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!
BOARD OF SELECTMEN JUNE 10, 2013 - FIREARMS, CODE BOOK, 48 NORFIELD ROAD
TOWN MEETING ON 48 NORFIELD (l.) JUNE 25,
2013 SAYS "YES" TO A REDUCED AMOUNT - BANK SAYS "NO THANKS"
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).
FIRST CAME PUBLIC HEARINGS (STORY
ABOVE) AND SELECTION OF
DATE FOR SPECIAL TOWN MEETING...AT TOWN HALL LAST NIGHT...LEFT TO
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
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
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...
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!!!
SELECTMEN ADDRESS LIGHTED
FIELDS BY THEMSELVES, WITHOUT SPECIAL ASSISTANCE FROM CONSULTANTS OF
THEIR OWN - USUALLY MEANS THAT THEY WILL NOT OPPOSE SOMETHING BUT RATHER
DEPEND UPON NEIGHBORS TO FOOT THE BILL TO FIGHT THEIR DECISION IN
HOW WILL THIS ISSUE AFFECT ANYTHING? P&Z NOT IN THIS GAME (only 8-24 [5-0 "yes"]).
Let there be lights, and the old..."no public money" claim.
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.
POLICE STATION/PRE-SCHOOL/SENIOR CENTER/TOWN POOL?
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
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
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
count toward its school spending requirement...
THE PEOPLE OF WESTON WOULD LIKE TO PLAN TOGETHER!
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!
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.
BOARD OF SELECTMEN (ABOVE) ASK FOR OPINIONS ON 48 NORFIELD ROAD
MARCH 21, 2013: HERE'S OUR FIRST THOUGHT...GET A MAP!
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
Involved more than ever since Sandy
The people who
were trusted with Town-School project? Who commissioned
& Zoning Commission?
The people who wrote the Town Plan
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.
volunteer boards with links on Town
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.
COMMISSION ON TOWN CHANNEL 79
BECAUSE OF GUN ORDINANCE DRAFT REVIEW FROM SELECTMEN
FACILITY STUDY - REVIEW OF CONSULTANT BY POLICE COMMISSION AND BUILDING
COMMITTEE TOGETHER PRIOR TO GUN MATTER..
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.
WHEN IS A "WORKING DRAFT" A PUBLIC DOCUMENT?
So how did the Charter Revision Commission get a pass on this
same type of procedure? Ans. Because no one
called them on it.
WMS CAFETORIUM (BD OF FIN. P.H. 2006)...AND 1-17-13
(SELECTMEN); POLICE PRESENT INCLUDING STATE TROOPERS (NOT SHOWN)
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
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
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.”
The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action
(NRA-ILA) released a statement Monday in response to Mr. Tracey’s
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
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
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
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"
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
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
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
NRA Says Congress Will Not Pass
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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.
the Board of Selectmen on Dec.
20, 2012..."externalities" postpone further
discussion involving school
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:
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
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
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.
IMPLICATIONS FOR BUDGET PROCESS FY2013-2014?
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
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
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.
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.
FROM THE POSTED AGENDA:
6. Discussion/decision regarding town and school
facility use plans, including future use of North House.
7. Discussion/decision regarding upcoming budget
At the Board of Education on Dec. 17, 2012...
WE WATCHED ON CHANNEL 78...AT THE BOARD OF ED IN WESTON LIBRARY,
NEWS ALERT: Weston school board
‘indefinitely’ North House issue
- There were familiar faces in the
audience,several in police uniforms.
- The agenda was reordered, putting the
heartfelt and gripping Superintendent's Report,
which recommended dropping the idea of leasing North House to the town,
- The Board unanimously tabled the matter,
7-0 for what appeared to
be forever. Applause and an appeal by the Police Chief,
with budget implications, to
have an officer dedicated to patrol of School Road during school hours,
plus an unarmed "Resource Officer".added for the schools.
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
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
Bristol Downtown Plan Gets Chilly Reception
The Hartford Courant
By DON STACOM
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
"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
"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
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
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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.