left, even older data. Opinions and observations expressed here
are those of "About Town" and should not be considered as "official" in
CONTENTS FOR PREVIOUS GFC EFFORT:
NEW - FACILITIES OPTIMIZATION ASSESSMENT MEETING NOTES
To be finished by the end of 2020
Board of Selectmen, at December 5, 2019 meeting establishment of "Facilities Optimization Assessment"
committee, 9 members.
- Two each from major boards (P&Z,
Education, Finance) and three from the community - former First
Selectman, former Vice-Chair. of Board of Education (and one of my
favorite people) plus a new name who has professional experience writing
RFP's (final two appointed January 2, 2020). I don't recall
exactly, but I suppose that the First Selectman would be ex-officio and
the Town Administrator will have a hand in too - just a thought!
- First meeting is now scheduled for
February 12, 2020 at 8am in the Town Hall Commission Room - where Skype,
Facetime, etc. and such has broadcast capability??? Two members on"speakerphone" at first meeting 2-12-20.
- We believe
that they are charged with coming up with an RFP that rigorously
describes tasks for a consultant to explore regarding use of existing
Town and School facilities given population estimates showing declining
enrollment. We will not be attending any of this entities'
meetings because we suspect that it will be divided into subcommittees
and thus not have quorums of the larger group present. When and if
they have posted meetings, we will then look for minutes of these
meetings on the Town of Weston website.
Facilities Optimization Committee May 19, 2020 at 7pm via Google Meet:http://www.westonct.gov/media/file/FOCagenda51920.pdf
FACILITIES OPTIMIZATION COMMITTEE, May 5, 2020 - More than 2 hours.
Present: Richard, Steve, Rick, Ken, Gayle, Denise, Hillary,
Rone, Tony, ex-officio Chris; Jim Maggio and two other members of the
We are listening after the fact (Sunday May 10,2020). Click on agenda to get official "minutes."
- Steve points out no consultant can say anything. Can't know what
will be normal in 2023. Rick agrees. Physical capacity will change.
But there is a baseline that won't change. Distancing, remote learning here to stay, future
- Pausing at sometime...Denise on projection - net in-migration; Tony. K - 115 kindergarten in May for next semester.
- Richard - Bd of Ed has to be able to tell them about: Number of
classrooms needed. In light of remote learning. Ken Craw - doing the
best remote - but we will have to have more space.
- Ken Edgar - not fully educated. No consultant yet. What are the
assumptions? Is there a way to join Curriculum Committee (Denise)?
- Gayle - ventilation, air-conditioning? Cleaning?
- Rick: What we're seeing on impact - post vaccine no problem?.
If you solve for intermediate point...bake in remote, combination
reduces demand for space. Don't have enough information. More real
estate/technology. But how much optimization can it really have? All
- Communication plan: How do you get public input? Hillary -
buy-in before do anything. Gayle agrees. Make sure Boards - Selectmen,
Education, Finance agree. Data sharing. Strategy on public input and
buy-in. Ken - town survey - public meetings like what Board of Finance
did. Chris - early stage lots of learning. What questions for a
consultant if and when to get a consultant...completely different
universe. Two-way video room at Town Hall. We can get public input.
- Master planning Timeline - have to revise it. Reset timeline
virus uncertainty. Space utilization from Plan - but no time on repair
and maintenance. Cost perspective. Numbers are staggering. Operating
costs? Well beyond what we can afford. Cost of maintain good repair.
Gayle asked Richard. Silver Petrocelli. Fired them remedial at
intermediate school. Don't have confidence. Hire Zimmerman to check
Middle School facade. We don't have a comprehensive report.
Walk-thru. Buildings that haven't been upgraded. Hurlbutt most in need
of work. Collapsing buildings. North House a disgrace from when it
was built. Rone - different grades? What do we want from these
buildings? Larger picture. More than classrooms. What kind of image
for the town.
- OPTIONS: Assumptions to agree on. DRAFT discussed but not attached to agenda. Member comments:
- Safety & Security
now with COVID.
- One-time capital and other upkeep expenditures over
time - costs.
- Speaking of costs - as in value of time as a parameter of the whole discussion...55 minutes in we skipped to last 25 minutes.
Meeting concludes a bit over 2 hrs.
- SKIPPING TO THE END...Ask BOE and administration to change school educational
instruction - the only way to change things is to change standards. Do
not hire architect. Need to bring in independent consultant. Some think not yet not
ready. Independent consultant with credentials should be an.education consultant.
- We still have to figure out how to best use a consultant.
Education or architect? Or another kind of expert? Clarity on
anything? RFQ first.
Facilities Optimization Committee
Tuesday April 21, 2020 at 7pm on "Google Meet" ("Meeting location"). Google Meet is trash. Bad sound!!!
Tonight's agenda: Schools and future space needs.
- Will the COVID-19 experience change facility standards?
- Can we anticipate the future role (by grade) of the virtual learning experience?
Education is the focus.
Present: Gayle, Rick, Denise, Jonathan, Ken Craw, Tony, Ken (P&Z), Hillary, Chris, Richard, Steve, Rone.
Ken Cross - #2 in State and USA (WHS) presents.
- Tony: Roll thru the 4-schools. How space is utilized. Barking in background.
- Ken. Depth & breadth.
- Is North House still used? (Gayle) Sounds like a yes.
What was the functional capacity? 36 classroom (minus Senior
Center) in 2013.
- (Gayle) 7 classes per grade. Would we have to take back Senior Center.
W.I.S.: 28 classrooms. Can you add a grade?
Lower grade might be added...Denise asks about room sizes as a new building compared to Hurlbutt.
Add a wing? (Gayle)
Parts are great (nice).
Science facilities, music need work. Also the central part, bathrooms.
STEM space in H wing.
Grades getting smaller? Add a grade.
And everyone liked the high school.
$37,543,000 million to fix up Middle School.
Consultants? Rick was thinking of analyzing the
alternatives. Organize the data. Cost basis to make the
assessment. Steve: What kind of consultant?
Architect? Education expert? Efficient use of space,
changing configurations. Build a new school cheaper than
renovating WMS? Tony: What are the options? Get
answers. Hillary: What would a new consultant add?
Lots of data and will show us what not to do - but we want to get an
answer now. Chris: Phase 2 - was supposed to tell us what
kind of re-deploying is available but no $$. New eyes. Ask the right questions.
"Going down to 3 schools would be catastrophic" comment in Phase
2. Any alternative will cost money. How do you phase
it? What can the Town afford. No more wish lists.
Square foot per student changing? Space utilization. Bench
Gayle says wait for another meeting? We should figure out exactly
what we want. They want to eliminate a building? Do an RFQ
instead of a RFP?
NEXT MEETING: NARROW SCENARIOS AND HOW WE ENGAGE CONSULTANT.
Facilities Optimization Committee
Meeting at 6pm - teleconference 4-7-20 (Tuesday)
Present: Rick, Gayle, Denise, Tony & Hillary, Richard & Ken, Steve & Rone; Chris, Mike Zuba, Ted, Ken Craw, a couple of school community, Jim Maggio initially.
We're on "phone call in." Now we are Zoom. We are able to
say "discussion ensued" since we have studied and taught population and
other projections professionally.
QUESTION OF HOW MANY KIDS WE WILL HAVE.
Interesting discussion of how COVID-19 has or has not affected the sales, births, and in - migration from NYC and other cities.
Discussion. Adjourned 7:26pm
Facilities Optimization Committee
Meeting at 8am - teleconference
(My Planning Graduate School teacher always said the more "factors" you
include in calculations, the closer you get to accurate numbers.)
If you had printed out the public notice on the Town of Weston website,
you got the more than 40 pp of population info discussed below.
- Member of the public asked for document.
- Weston-Today & About
Town on their smartphones and who knows who else was on the line?
- The most significant page of all was the high-medium-low projections..
All on speakerphone/Zoom (visual conferencing) per COVID-19
protocol. Prior to meeting we hear that 2 of the members have been
tested positive for COVID-19 (one twice). Someone recorded the meeting on their i-phone.
Present that we heard and could identify, not necessarily all who were present:
Chris Spaulding, Mike Zubba, Ken Craw, Rone Baldwin, Denise Harvey,
Gayle Weinstein, Tony Pesco, Rick Bertasi, Steve Ezzes, Jim Maggio.
Minutes approved - Steve, Tony, Unan.
Ken Craw, Mike Zubba on population projections.
Chris: Assumptions p26 growth of town. Basic assumption on population too high?
Mike: DOT model only data point. "K" most important. Medium.
Rone: Incoming K ...in-migration assumption? Grades beyond.
Denise: Net in-migration assumption?
Mike: Slide seven. OTHER FACTORS...housing market, private
school in-out migration. Birth to K - BIRTHS getting LOW,
persistency ratio. "Survivability" ratio. Birth-K more
in with kids. Rely less birth to K. Regression analysis. (My
question: Does Weston have the size of input data to run a
Gayle: ASSUMPTION: Sale price changes?
Rone: How much is contributed sale v price? 80 births.
Tony: 71 births, 128 in K class...5 yrs later
Mike: We'll look at it.
Gayle: Median sales price.
Rick: "R sq?" If you take out home price...
Mike: Assumptions changes drive regression model.
Chris: More on numbers for this "crowd"
Rone: Much closer on sale price in reality.
Tony: Independent variables do justify it - in-migration example.
Steve: Predictability of home sales, housing values new impact...could be greater increase.
Chris: Houses now inverse to investment concept.
Gayle: Births going down...look at all factors.
Mike: No, he feels comfortable. Tough time to project
fertility rates.(Will the COVID-19 affect this - my idea). Private
Rone: Could you do the same for the other (high and low)? Totals.
Rick: Net? NET MIGRATION
Rone looking for simple number. K-12
Tony: Low numbers? By school buildings
Denise: She has a lot of questions.
Gayle: Focus on number of classrooms?
Jim Maggio invited to ask question: He asked for full document.
FACILITIES OPTIMIZATION COMMITTEE
We did not attend.
Unapproved draft minutes of 3-11-20: Page 1 and page 2
Discussion of Town - side needs. However, on March 29th we located the official approved minutes from the Town of Weston website: http://www.westonct.gov/media/file/FOCminutes31120.pdf
FACILITIES OPTIMIZATION COMMITTEE
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020 at 8am
Commission Room at Town Hall
Present: Richard Wolf, Rone Baldwin (ex-officio Chris Spaulding); all others (7 people) online.
That would be Chair. Rick Bertasi, Tony Pesco, Steve Ezzes,V-Ch., Ken
Edgar, Hilary Coyner, Denise Harvey, Sec. Gayle Weinstein. We are
not exactly sure about this...
Minutes were approved. General topics discussed. Necessity
for everyone to be at the same level of information (minimal level we
assume - which is still a lot!!!)
- March 2 meetings for reviewing schools data, and population estimates/projections for Town, too.
- April 2 meetings on facilities (education)
- May 2 meetings on facilities (Town)
- July, August, September decide by October (write the RFP for consultant).
Board of Education MMI consultant on population estimates and
projections to be asked to participate in March. Is transfer
Station part of the study? We think we heard a "no" but this has
been in the past a place where school bus storage has been suggested.
NEXT MEETING March 11, 2020 at 8am, Commission Room...how many live
participants then??? Answer: 5 present, 4 on speakerphone (see
FACILITIES OPTIMIZATION COMMITTEE
Wednesday Feb. 12, 2020 at 8am
Town Hall Commission Room
The meeting came to order with seven members present (2 on speakerphone), First Selectman Chris Spaulding opening it.
Discussion of the charge: With Hurlbutt at half-capacity now, now
is the time to make plans for reconfiguration and joining Town and
School space needs.
Facility Optimization Committee plans to incorporate all data including
data from "Phase Two" but not its recommendations for building plans.
By next meeting in two weeks:
- What can we afford to spend?
- Avoidance of "biases" necessary;
- What is utilization, ability to have underused school buildings reused by town?
- Prepare questions to be addressed.
Election of officers: Rick Bertasi (r), Chair., Steve Ezzes (l), Vice Chair.; and Gayle Weinstein notetaker ("Secretary") photo below.
Adjourned at 9:07am.
CENTRAL WESTON BASE MAP...AND ONE FOR THE ENTIRE TOWN:. FOR HISTORICAL PURPOSES: AT THE TOP: LINKS TO PLANS PROPOSED THRU THE YEARS...
AT THE LEFT ABOVE...GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE BASE MAP WE'VE BEEN WAITING TO USE SINCE...2005!
CONCLUSIONS AND NEXT STEPS - AT THE RIGHT, CLICK ON ARTIST'S VERSION OF 48 NORFIELD ROAD; FOR THE FULL TEXT OF FIRST SELECTMAN'S REPORT ON GFC PROCESS & PLAN
OUR MINUTES OF WHAT WE OBSERVED AT GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE:
"Picture stories" and
meeting dates: August 6, 2015; MAY 4, 2015; March 30, 2015; November 4, 2014; October 30, 2014; June 20, 2014; March 20, 2014; October 25, 2013; June 21, 2013; June 10, 2013.
H O W M A N Y M E E T I N G
S G O I N G O N H E
R E A T O N E T I M E ?
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE expected to produce a report on their recommendations...NOT THERE YET AS OF AUGUST 2015.
SELECTMEN'S MEETING MAY 7, 2015
The crowd filtered in and out, as public hearings ended and the Board of
Selectmen got underway late...And two power points began after two
appointments and acceptance of a gift!
A very long discussion.
About Town asked for a copy for the FORUM of the document being
held aloft by the First Selectman. A member of the Board of
Finance (below, left in the center) gave me his...Town Administrator then made copies.
Not so sure about Global Facilities' committee decision to plunge ahead...so it seemed to me.
"SHELL GAME" ABOUT SPACE NEEDS DID IN THE SCHOOL BUDGET BY DISTRACTING ATTENTION AND TIME OF STAFF, AS WELL AS PTO (JMO)
New member of the Board of Finance spoke strongly and frankly. Did
the Public Safety Complex roll out confuse voters ahead of ATBM and
Referendum? I have to say the "plan" to move ahead had a shallow
look to it, but perhaps it was because there was discussion around a document I couldn't see until the topic was almost exhausted..
SOME HISTORY AND REPORTS
AT THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN MARCH 19, 2015
MANDATE FOR OPEN DISCUSSION AND STRATEGIC THINKING. CAN AN UNAFFILIATED VOTER BE APPOINTED TO AN ELECTED COMMISSION...NO. AT LEAST NOT UNTIL THE CHARTER IS CHANGED... AGAIN.
If we recall correctly, it was our brave Superintendent in conjunction with Rep. Lavielle, who co-chaired a Commission to call for lessening impact of mandates on high performing districts!!!
Board of Selectmen do a double. That is, frame their meeting between 2 executive sessions. We stayed home.
We are awaiting the latest version of the Board of Selectmen's
options for developing an expanded Police Station/Emergency Services
structure in coordination of the space available on the ground.
News of study of available land:
- Delayed until there is complete data on available land in town with reference to review;
- Reference made to this parcel as the "100 acre parcel adjacent to Meadow Ridge" - for Senior Housing, perhaps.
- Global Facilities Committee (link to FORUM report) to meet and discuss
options...we did some calling around and this meeting will be on March
30, 2015 at 7:45am in Town Hall.
WHAT DID THE BOARD OF FINANCE DO AT ITS FEB. 12, 2015 MEETING? NOTHING ON THE AGENDA TO INDICATED THIS MATTER WAS RE-ADDRESSED. WE DID NOT ATTEND.
A rescheduled TRI-BOARD (SEL, FIN, ED.)meeting - including an Executive Session regarding school security: http://www.westonct.gov/media/file/REVISEDTriBoardAgenda2-3-15.pdf
The shell game came to an abrupt end, we hope, at LWV of Weston's "Speak
Up 2015." The Tri-Board meeting included voting by the Board of
Selectmen to approve the whole consultant proposal, which was then
passed down the table to the Board of Finance, which asked for
modifications, Selectmen then got it back, approved only "Part One" and
passed it back to the Board of Finance, who then approved it 3-1.
QUESTION: Was this legal? We know the School Security matter
is legal. Was there proper notice for the Selectmen and Finance
Boards to discuss and change consultant recommendation? In the
end, this is not a big deal, but actually one member of the Finance
Board, not the "no" vote, mentioned it.
BALL NOW IN SELECTMEN'S COURT
At LWV of Weston "Speak Up" the public let the town and school
establishment know that they were confused. The Weston FORUM
editorial after "Speak Up" states its opinion, which is ours as well,
that it is time to let everybody in on the process and take
action: Editorial in full - http://www.thewestonforum.com/25449/editorial-space/
TRI-BOARD MEETINGS CAN LOOK LIKE THIS ABOVE.
Special Meeting to re- appoint Commission on Aging, begin merging School-Town web presence and...buildings at Hurlbutt dates built.
NORTH HOUSE TO BE CLOSED IN 5 YEARS? Selectmen pursue
clarity on what they must do to meet town needs. Hurlbutt second
Selectmen 2pm Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Full house. Reappointments grilled.
Hurlbutt "on the
table" again?. Board of Education makes its points as Selectmen
discuss/decide to send letter but do not release it. BIG crowd!
What went down? So glad you asked! Town TV there. And the FORUM has a story online explaining from the point of view of the First Selectman why
the Board of Selectmen at a Special Meeting saw fit to continue
discussion with a quorum present after the meeting was officially closed
and the cameras had been turned off after their Special Meeting Dec.
Kabuki theater with no one there but everyone there and nothing said but everything said.
When will they, the Selectmen, ever learn? Just because you
hear things at a meeting or second hand doesn't mean that they are
either of the following:
- The truth;
- Accurate for more than the length of time it takes for you to leave the room or 'til sundown, whichever is closer;
Some things never change department and some truisms:
- The left had never knows what the right hand is doing;
- The Board of Education is more "powerful" than the Board of Selectmen if you equate money with power;
- The only people who will vote "yes" for spending ten
million dollars on a new Public Safety Complex are the policemen (who
can't vote because most don't live here) and members of the Fire
Department, who do live here, and members of the Police Commission
(maybe). And About Town, who never has a problem supporting
spending money for a good cause or good planning.
The ebb and flow of school population.
In the past, Weston was most impacted by major
employers in the region moving; downturns in the U.S. economy affect
birthrates five years later.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT...BACK TO THREE BUILDINGS LONG RANGE?
At a public hearing before a Town Meeting, the community may ask "why not use a Plan 'B?'" - i.e. North
House refitted for Town staff use instead of additions to Town Hall as a replacement for the Town
Hall Annex. This might reduce the immediate sticker price by $1.8 million est.
Since Hurlbutt fields are to be used, perhaps, for
storm water runoff along with enlarged septic fields proposed in front
of Town Hall, for the Public Safety Complex - and assuming all of that
works, would not a Plan 'C' also work? Maybe some nice senior housing some day, as the Town Engineer drew up and former First Selectman proposed in the 1990's?
Background history of Town/School Referendum 2001: New Ideas?
Second, although the Board of Selectmen will most likely not be where
this discussion is held, it is obvious to us it will come up...in 1991-1992 when Weston total enrollment was 1393 and
at that time, there was a cry to close...(not yet enlarged and
renovated) Weston High School. Well, this time, it might be an
idea to close Hurlbutt E-S and/or put them in mothballs. Why not
include them in the Norfield Historic District which would not preclude
interior renovations for more senior/affordable housing or other town
use? The Core Building (circled in red below) is not "historic"
but does remind everyone of the beginning of the school expansion
project - which was "historic" if for no other reason than it was an
example of the power of Town Meeting and adjournment to Referendum
(#1). And two years later, Referendum #2.
LWV of Weston Observer Corps 2001 report:
TOWN MEETING NOV. 7:
was very polite. It was also videotaped and put on the screen the
very next day (congratulations to Town staff working free overtime, no
doubt, to make the "station" a "24-7" all news all the time 21st
public access machine)...couldn't have happened without the Town of
volunteer-run GOVERNMENT ACCESS CHANNEL rising to the
notes that the Weston Middle School Cafeteria was pretty full (not
- this means @170 persons - but maybe the number for eligible voters
considerably smaller because the real records kept are for "qualified
and does not include the people filling seats who are: Education
Staff or other Town Staff not residents of Weston, under-age residents
sitting with parents and Weston residents who not citizens. Both
LWV Co-Presidents were present, along with other Board Members and general
membership. This was First Selectman Hal Shupack's last Town
and he introduced Woody Bliss, his successor. Opening remarks
made by the Chair. of the Board of Education, the Superintendent
of Schools, Chair. of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
the architects, were present, but no one asked any questions of
It was noted that no one who spoke was in doubt about their
It was also noted that anyone who would like to take a tour of the
Parks and Recreation improvements was welcome to the League of
Voters/Parks and Rec. event Friday, November 9 at 11am in Bisceglie
A question about
the Sheff decision vis a vis filling unused space in the public schools
was discussed somewhat heatedly, with a standing ovation given to the
who had the nerve to bring up the issue of why people might be opposed
to school expansion - asking if it was not a code position for not
an integrated society. One after the other of some who had
the expansion returned to the microphine to recite reasons why they
intended to suggest that this was a racial issue.
The Town Meeting
was adjourned to the machines--VOTE
THURSDAY, NOV. 15, 2001, WESTON MIDDLE SCHOOL, FROM 6am
8pm --Schools will be open so...watch out for traffic and parking
in the Middle School lot.
Turnaround off School Road for school bus drop off at Core building! 1987 photo of East House.
First school expansion
Core building and connectors running through it to East, South and North "houses".
Why do we suggest these alternative thoughts?
Because we might want to begin thinking of a "Centrality: Town Campus
Plan" for sharing buildings and technology with the Schools. With
the Hurlbutt campus eventually no longer in school use (perhaps), walk paths
directly connecting North House to Town Hall might be possible.
Also, if demographics will also support it, an enhanced Senior Transit
service might be able to locate in the newest structure at the
turnaround at Hurlbutt
History of enrollment changes:
By 1994 birth rates were up to 108, so NESDEC advised that growth would
come, especially if in-migration increased. The results of a local
census of children (that got a 75% return from the entire community)
was sent to the State Department of Education demographer from the
Superintendent of Schools on Sept. 18, 1995. Where the SDE
official numbers of children under the age of 5 yrs was 475, the
local census just referred to, showed 808 in that same cohort.
Eventually came the Referendum of 2001 and the redo of Question 2 in 2003; completion
of work at WHS by 2006; @3000 student
maximum planned for never came to pass.
1995 Engineer's Alert
Read what happened, blow-by-blow, unofficial source - note that some
links to old data and reports by regional agency no longer working.
MAP OF TOWN LINE W/WILTON AND PROXIMITY OF SCHOOL CAMPUS...WHY SO COMPLEX?
SO WHEN WILL THE H-INTERSECTION BRIDGE REPLACEMENT GET GOING? NEXT SUMMER?
Let us explain: As the Town Engineer points out, the Old Mill Road
section of this commuting route during rush hours is
sub-standard. In order to improve it to the point where speed
humps can be installed, there must be more than one widening made, alterations to
vertical curvature (which will entail determining if the Town of Weston
will have to "take" some parts of property), all of this being major
time and expense...BUT About Town reminds the Town of Weston that in the
past the suggestion has been made to do even more damage to the
neighborhood...which we won't mention specifically.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SECOND ITEM ON THE 3-30-15 AGENDA WAS NOT VOTED UPON AT THE SUGGESTION OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS.
I was wondering how or more correctly, who, was qualified to vote on
minutes from years ago, first introduced as "drafts" at this
meeting! Pictures of who attended these meeting no longer online.
Setting the stage...for the big switch and bait or was the bait and switch?
After Election Night...and now Nov. 20,
and no minutes in sight...but the requested survey of space use by other
Police Departments IS DONE:
LINK TO PDF OF COMPARISON OF SPACE USE AT POLICE DEPARTMENTS
The joint meeting election night, after all, WAS NOT
televised on Channel 79. But...the Board of Finance meeting prior to it was! Here is a secondary source report from the FORUM:
FIVE YEAR PLAN: No video of Joint Meeting.
Above left, the upper floor of new Police Station...part of the bigger
picture. New septic field under here...softball fields at Hurlbutt to
get redo to allow parking, next. Onion Barn safe for now.
Not ready for prime time...yet. But doing very nicely!
Weston finance board reviews police building project
By Kimberly Donnelly on November 12, 2014
The town will likely pursue a combination of bonding and
appropriations from its reserve fund to finance a new public safety
building and renovation of Weston Town Hall. That was the consensus of the finance board and the Board
of Selectmen after meeting in a joint session on Tuesday, Nov. 4, to
discuss plans to build a new police station and to relocate several town
Town hall renovation
The town is also looking at renovating the town hall once
the police and communications center vacate it to move in to the new
building. Cost estimates based on preliminary designs are about $1.8
While she would have liked to have seen the project go to
voters this fall, Ms. Weinstein said, she realizes there are still
questions that need to be answered and details that need to be worked
“We want to make sure we’re doing it right, so I’m
willing to take the extra time,” she said...story from the FORUM in
AND THE FOLLOW UP TO THE OCT. 30TH MEETING WILL BE...NOV. 4TH! WHILE ABOUT TOWN IS AT THE WMS REPORTING TO AP ON ELECTION RESULTS!
Bonding to pay for the Emergency
Services Complex and Expansion/Renovation of Town Hall (since the Annex
is being phased out) will have to be the subject of a Town
Meeting/Referendum. Unless the powers that be would prefer to add
it to the ATBM and never have discussion at town meeting at all!
Just a yes-no Referendum! Would or should Weston be eligible for
any funding from the State of CT? As commented by the parties at
the table discussing these matter, since it was reported that D.E.E.P.
has a file on us from the town hall/school first expansion and also the
second, I would think that we might well be back to moving or merging
expansion to the schools complex and not changing the foot print of any
structure. Of course, some members of the Board of Finance have
suggested similar things and been swept aside with the certainty that
D.E.E.P. can be talked out of tgheir mission...below, the early plans presented for Town Hall part of the project.
that the Town of Weston provided copies after the meeting of all items discussed.
PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE OCT. 30TH DISCUSSED WAYS TO REVISE PLAN. DRAWINGS OF FIRST FLOOR OF POLICE STATION AND ITS SECOND FLOOR.
Will D.E.E.P. allow a septic solution or will
they insist on another tertiary treatment plant or enlarging the one on
school road and requiring pumping effluent all the way to that
A SOLUTION WAS FOUND THAT ACCOUNTS FOR STORMWATER RUNOFF - BUT WHAT ABOUT SEPTIC SYSTEMS? Check here for 2015 latest.
"Bad soils" for perc? Stone wall - runoff exit spot. Historic District property on east side of highway
includes Onion Barn and Main Fire House.
Previously we had opined that the natural solution used for Town Hall-Fire Dept. roof run off,
apparently the only one in place for the past 25 years (green area
behind bollards on left), was to be covered over in new Plan...or so it seems to us.
Now the Plans proudly announce that the Onion Barn will remain and be
enhanced as it deserves to be - although there was no map showing that
on the Plan that I saw...
HOW ABOUT ENCOURAGING MICROGRID?
At Special Board of Selectmen's meeting Aug. 18, 2014
C-PACE program explained.
The Town fits in as a "pass-thru" for funds from CT "Green Bank."
Lights Committee or whatever it is called, to meet soon.
What was item #3 all about?
Would nice new windows at Weston Middle School have been qualified for
this program? NOPE. The Shopping Center, St. Francis, the
Lyon's Plains Fire House - all privately owned buildings - would
qualify. For those interested, this is how the agenda reads: "3.Discussion/decision regarding approving a resolution for the
Commercial & Industrial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE)
C-PACE Financing High Performance Building Upgrades
Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) is an innovative
program that is helping commercial, industrial and multi-family property
owners access affordable, long-term financing for smart energy upgrades
to their buildings.
C-PACE allows building owners to finance qualifying energy efficiency
and clean energy improvements through placing a voluntary assessment on
their property tax bill. Property owners pay for the improvements over
time through this additional charge on their property tax bill and the
repayment obligation transfers automatically to the next owner if the
property is sold. Similar to a sewer tax assessment, capital provided
under the C-PACE program is secured by a lien on the property, so
low-interest, long-term capital can be raised from the private sector
with no government financing required. This arrangement spreads the cost
of clean energy improvements – such as energy efficient boilers,
upgraded insulation, new windows, or solar installations – over the
expected life of the measure.
SPORTS PERSON OF THE YEAR IN WESTON; WESTON SPORTS COMMISSION MEMBERS
Which actors may be missing from The Weston Sports
Commission? Are they as a group subject to F.O.I.? If not,
why not? First
meeting of lights management committee coming soon - Second Selectman
representing the Board of Selectmen - will there be posted notices shown
A BLAST FROM THE PAST:
As we wrote some many years ago it isn't funny..."Following up on front
page article in the FORUM"...some early words about SPORTS COMPLEX:
Wednesday, January 2, 2002 School Building Committee meeting, a brief
presentation was made by W.H.S. Athletic Director, community Sports
Complex 2003 steering group...
This has been done successfully "across the pond"... in
Lancashire...JOINT DEVELOPMENT is one way to go in times of limited
resources...meaning getting end users to pony up $$.
"Support the athletic energy of Weston's youth by providing leadership
in upgrading and enhancing athletic facilities which benefit all
"Create, and sustain, a 'Best in Class' Multi-functional athletic
environment/facilities" is the idea! "...Weston High School's
medium longer term total land use, athletic infrastructure and
development strategies" are on the line here. Through mutual
partnerships (individuals, families, public enterprises), the Committee
states, "...we will focus our development efforts towards providing a
multi-sports surfaced stadium and supporting equipment to enhance
overall athletic excellence."
"FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS" (FOR ALMOST HALF THE CALENDAR YEAR) GOING UP...PHOTO ON RIGHT JULY 30th...
Summertime in Weston 2014 means School Road construction - "Hold that line" football cheer = watch those
electric bills! Read FORUM report here! Did the M.O.U. include permission from the crows?
LET THERE BE LIGHTS AND THERE WERE LIGHTS - VISITOR'S SIDE HERE
And now we know what the problem is going to be - the fourteen separate lights on each "stalk" have to be perfectly calibrated in order to not have "spillage." How will we know for sure what needs to be re calibrated - did the new Director of Facilities get training?
PRIMARY DAY AUGUST 12...ON FRIDAY AUGUST 15 (at right)
We took a trip to the access road on Tuesday to the tennis courts,
parked, and took this camera phone picture...click pix above to see
FOOTBALL FIELD LIGHTING WATCH...
Lights will be going up on Primary Day Tuesday, August 12;
when we checked this morning, an individual working on the installation
passed by, so we asked what's up - there appeared to be work going
on. He very politely responded that they (we presume Musco Corp.) were assembling
the light poles on the ground Monday and would erect them tomorrow,
Tuesday. By the weekend the fields were in full use during the day, 4 new light poles in place with 14 lights each.
OBSERVATIONS BY ABOUT TOWN - NOT OFFICIAL - ABOUT WHERE WE ARE IN THE SUMMER OF 2014...
SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER...Onion Barn still
busy! Stadium Lights coming; tertiary treatment plant
repairs in full force now that schools are closed. East House parking - more impervious surfaces?
Will it be like the circus on School Road this summer? (See projects ongoing) Special Meeting of the Board of Selectmen at 7pm Monday, prior to the regularly scheduled one.
- Project: At the high school renovating rooms (windows and doors);
- Project: And the Stadium Light project installation - is this related to the Executive Session;
- Project: The tertiary treatment plant repairs plus...
- Project: The Senior Center renovations and...
- New parking lot at East House - will it be here as shown
(above right) or somewhere that is already impervious surface, and just
repaved? Perhaps an argument for justifying using Hurlbutt field for
drainage (since impervious surfaces increased for more than just the Police
Station, as it may turn out)?
UNOFFICIAL "MINUTES" TAKEN BY ABOUT TOWN OF GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE MEETINGS ATTENDED
LINK TO ITEMS DISTRIBUTED BELOW
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE
Town Hall Meeting Room
August 6, 2015 - 7:45am to 9:30am approx.
This meeting was not recorded nor was the Weston FORUM present.
Nothing was decided except approval of previous meeting minutes.
PRESENT: Gayle Weinstein, First Selectman; Brian Humes,
architect; Jerry Sargent, Board of Finance; Allen Swerdlowe,
Bob Soloff, Building Committee; Elise Major, Bd of Ed (Facilities
Committee); Dr. Palmer; Beth Gralnick, Police
Commission; Ellen Uzenoff, Bd of Ed; IN THE AUDIENCE IN
SUPPORT were Communications Center Director, Fire Department, EMS, Bd of
Ed Facilities Director.
PUBLIC SAFETY COMPLEX
Materials distributed included latest architect's
report, letters re: possible use of Onion Barn Field (Hurlbutt)
letter from engineer and DEEP; formal estimator's numbers for hard
soft costs plus another copy of Dec. 24, 2014 review of projects for
hard cost only, we think. What if anything could be left out of
final proposal? Fire Department made a suggestion. Attached
also are drawings and documents distributed for the discussion of the
story Public Safety Complex.
Building Committee Co-Chair makes case for not changing anything.
Board of Finance reminds those present that costs were requested to be
reduced by some % - had this happened or had it actually increased?
Architect's report: Included correspondence between Town Engineer and DEEP.
Included also separate project cost estimate plus...
Drawings of plan: These are scanned in and we apologize for their appearance - but all the information should be available.
Lower floor plan;
Upper floor plan.
Previous review of Public Safety Complexes elsewhere: Comparison with other projects - the table (in two parts):
LINK TO ITEMS DISTRIBUTED BELOW
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE
Town Hall Meeting Room
May 4, 2015 7:45am - @9:30am
In attendance was the Editor of the Weston FORUM.
TOWN ADMINISTRATOR PRESENT AND DISTRIBUTES SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS TO THE PUBLIC:
ITEM ONE, ITEM TWO.
The three item agenda was completed in approximately the same time frame as other GFC meetings. Present were: Members
of Board of Education both at the table and in the audience plus the
Superintendent of Schools and the Director of Finance plus the Director
of Buildings and Grounds; Communications Center Director, Fire
Department, in audience; Co-Chairs. of the Building Committee; Police Department representative (the Chief had to be elsewhere) plus Vice-Chair. of the Police Commission; 2 Commission on Aging members; 2 members of the public.
RFP DISCUSSION: No vote taken. Finance Chair. points out action needs to be taken now. A
modified "Main Street" proposal for a consultant - funded by State of CT
grant - if Weston can get it.
SO IS EVERYBODY ON BOARD WITH THE PUBLIC SAFETY-TOWN HALL
PROJECT? Is it clear what is being proposed? Comments that
you need the general support of the wider community for this, too.
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved with abstentions, we think.
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE
Town Hall Meeting Room
March 30, 2015 7:45am - @9:30am
About Town has the record: SOUND FILE HERE
North is up on the Google map below. These come from the 20 pages
"report" with 21 more pp of maps, aerials and assorted material.
NO EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The meeting went like this: The First Selectman ably
described the sporadic multi-year effort to take a "global" look at the
Town's space needs to see if there could be joint use of structures, etc.
with the schools. Then came Sandy Hook School tragedy and rules
for school safety all over the State of CT changed.
Facilities and the Board of Selectmen have now clarified exactly what
this Board of Education considers compatible uses of space - Senior
Activity Center, Town departments that do not get outside visitors (and
even their own business office!!!).
Who was there? Representation from those parties with "skin
in the game." That would be Town, Education, Police,
Building Committee, Board of Finance. Library not present and
Commission on Aging in the audience as were Fire Department and EMS and
Communication Center. Global Facilities Committee members and
those attending the meeting on
Monday, 7:45am, Town Hall Meeting Room received (shared copies)
presentation by administration of summary of 20
pp of text and 21 pages with tables, charts, Google aerial views. and
explanation of what was "on the table" (we note that we found listening
again to the Town
Administrator in 3 minutes explained what had to be done [at @1hr15min
into the sound file] was very helpful) - SOUND FILE HERE
It was a lot to absorb: By this time, speaking for myself, nothing
was new - just clarified in print and in the verbal report. Space
planner from Massachusetts explained it took years to convince North
Hampton, MASS. to approve a Police Station (we may have the name of the
town wrong - it has 55,000 people and sidewalks everywhere (and sewers
and public water, I'll bet!).
MAIN CONCERN OF THOSE AROUND THE TABLE IS NOT HAVING TOWN MEETING
VOTE DOWN THEIR PROJECT - JMO.
(R) Town Administrator, near the end - one-hour and 15 minutes in for
three minutes - explains why you have to start with the Public Safety
Next best part of the meeting was when Police Commissioner and
Finance and Education members all agreed what was needed was to hire a
planning consultant like Westport has done for their downtown planning -
which is earlier on the sound file.
Which is always nice to do but...putting off what is really not a
complicated decision, IMHO.
It is a political decision to be made, yes. But why should it be considered
just a local one? Forces in Hartford beyond our control are
changing and shifting the ground under our feet in the 169 towns in CT as we write
Meeting of the Global Facilities Committee, 7:45-9am, 10-30-14.
Held prior to meeting election night of Joint Committe of
Finance/Selectmen to discuss bonding...we won't be there...
In the Town Hall Meeting Room not televised: Who wasn't there? All hands on deck! Reference to EMS made by First Selectman to Oct. 22nd Special Meeting...
OK, the meeting started with all hands on deck, almost. Some
expected to be present were not there. It was pointed out that prior to going to
the Joint Meeting of the Boards of Finance and Selectmen at 7:30pm
election night, there should be an attempt to get their ducks in a row to
the extent everyone was informed that studies had been complete of storm
water retention as well as septic feasibility, and the DEEP had made
suggestions although no final word was available about whether or not a
new septic field on town/school property would be allowed.
The new proposed project (blow up) will also include expanded and renovated Town Hall
Offices to accommodate those departments now in the Annex, except for
Parks & Rec will remain at Jarvis. Why was the Communications Center Director looking concerned?
Perhaps because in the hunt to cut 1500 sq ft off the latest proposed
draft alternatives might reduce changing room space or a corridor that
may compromise the activity of the Fire Department?
See below right as this corridor is discussed on drawing, indicating
why, to avoid having to either go from the second floor to the ground
floor for Fire Department might mean slowing down response time.
EMERGENCY SERVICES COMPLEX: Why cut anything? Can't it be spread out in a two-step
bonding effort and go out for bonding while interest rates are
Those who remember the school construction project
you also remember how the $124 million project became, after another
summer of study, a $79 million call to
Referendum. And we've been building the rest of what was needed in
smaller chunks ever since. Some points made at this meeting:
- Numbers for this 2014 project are nowhere near the
Schools/Fields Referendum bottom line (About Town will not mention the
numbers for this new endeavor because we have no desire to complicate
the process - when the numbers are finalized, we'll use them);
- Considering that it will take three years from the time bonding
is approved to build the new "Emergency" Services Complex, an estimate made at this meeting, it is time to start the process;
- Then and
only then would work be able to begin on space presently occupied at
Town Hall for other uses, to bring back the Land Use departments (to a
renovated basement space with separate entrance, unlinked to the present
Fire/Police/EMS/Communications space), expand for a First Selectman's
suite, and move Social Services to the present Police
Department offices on the main floor of Town Hall.
- The study for
EMS emergency lodging ties in here (EMS would fund the construction).
EMERGENCY: EVERYONE TO GET FROM STREET DEPARTMENT ("THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING" QUOTE) MEETS HAL FROM 2001
THE VISION THING...
Originally thought these things May 14, 2014 at the Building Committee - sometimes we'd rather be
wrong...a "eureka" moment! Remember Halloween 2011 - Hal from "2001" the movie?
IS THIS ENOUGH TO KEEP ROOF DRAINAGE FROM CROSSING WESTON ROAD? WE"LL SEE...
This morning, June 20, 2014 (the date we wrote this entry) the Global Facilities Committee
met. Nothing yet from the soil testing consultant.
We were enlightened by the discussion among Board of Education, Board of
Finance, Building Committee and the First Selectman. Other
Questions such as the new Police Station being moved should drainage
installation require this, is in the hands of the soil testing
consultant for now.
Whither "Global Facilities?"
Eureka! I finally get it! Why is the "Global Facilities
Committee" called by this name? Because they are planning for 10
years out, positioning Weston to transition fully into the new
generation of public service, a new paradigm.
And so it came to pass that we finally heard from the Global
Facilities Committee, on Friday, June 20, 2014, something that we hadn't
heard anywhere at a public meeting before. Bravo! Thank you Board of Finance for
brilliantly capturing "the vision thing." Always a good thing when the Board of Finance is in the lead.
What everyone meant by "Global Facilities" became clear to me. And
more than that, how personnel changes, retirements, technical changes
in how information is stored (and disseminated) fit in. Discussion
of population and how the 5-year plan from the schools will be coming
soon to help in planning as well.
There are, at this time, four major players in the Global Facilities
Committee in Weston: The Board of Education, the Building
Committee, the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen. What
changes must we look out for that affect the Plan? "About Town" summarizes as we heard it:
Did we mention "Centrality" as the most important thing to seek to develop? No? That's because Weston is already centralized! Weston Shopping Center (across rte. 57), municipal complex including Police/Fire/Communications/Town Hall/Library and all schools are in the center of town and adjacent to one another and walkable internally.
- Technological developments: data storage/access in school and town; security of that data to protect population.
- Implications (physical) for coordination with town-school; work force changes go hand in hand with technology;
- Security for town data, security for general population's
data - yet appropriate availability and integration into everyday life
making it better, and still respecting privacy - making it easy use, too;
- Emergencies - weather and otherwise; be prepared!
- Infrastructure protection; redundancy.
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE 3-20-14
NOTES - (L-R) THE COMMITTEE, OUR LAND USE MAP FROM 2008 - COMMITTEE
MEMBERS AT THE TABLE...MORE TO COME?
What happened Thursday, March
2014, 7:45am Global Facilities meeting?
Plenty. Fortunately, the Weston FORUM editor
attended this 7:45am meeting and will report it in the
newspaper! "About Town" spoke up supporting another who asked for
P&Z to be in the loop if not actually on the Committee.
A meeting of the minds among Selectmen, Police Commission, Board of
Education, Board of Finance, Building Committee, adviser, Commission on
Aging in the audience as was the Communication Center Director.
No one taking notes except for Weston FORUM editor and "About Town" -
not being videotaped either, I assumed - or maybe it was?
It should have been, in retrospect - because it was an excellent
meeting and there should be a record for review...but this was
advertised as an early meeting with many more to come in a process that
will stretch for years...more "About Town" comment below:
WAS I DREAMING OR DID I HEAR THE
PLAN REPRESENTED AS...MY PREFERRED PLAN?
- The Onion Barn Field taken (NOT the Onion Barn, which is
in the firstl Historic District) and I would expect a lot of drainage
work and redo of Hurlbutt fields (nobody mentioned this) to
- Shouldn't the Planning and Zoning Commission help out this
process, wearing their planning hat?
- And our Town Engineer designed the soft drainage (drainage
between the Onion Barn and Fire Department to hold back the overflow
onto Route 57 and into the Shopping Center...the problem was,
previously, that the State of CT catch basins and storm drains were
designed for 25 year flood and would overflow too frequently and run
off onto private property.
- Because the water table is so high in the center of town,
basements flood and this should be recognized as one reason why the new
proposed "Police Station" might have to be two stories above ground???.
- Fuel Cell or other ideas for grants more possible now than
before, and the First Selectman is exploring all kinds of possibilities
re: LEEDS platinum and its benefits.
OCT. 25, 2013 GLOBAL FACILITIES
COMMITTEE: WE STAY FOR TOWN HALL- POLICE EXPANSION OF TOWN HALL
WHAT HAPPENED AT OCT. 25, 2013 EARLY
Great stuff!, well run. Police and safety issues vis a vis
communications center and bringing town hall employees back to town
THE PLANS AT THIS
Below are photos of unofficial plan - developed prior to costing or
even design development phase. Three choices for new P.D. - all
in the Town Hall-Fire Department-Library...access appears key to me
right now - but once we get to design development, after the Schools
come in with their study in January 2014, these ideas may change. And they did.
First step, access and
parking for each of the three alternatives. Very different ideas
- no change to shared parking in two, access from Weston Road addded
for two, new P.D. building and separate parking an access only for P.D.
emergencies for the third. JMO.
Pictures of the meeting below, too.
25, 2013: Special Town Meeting 48 Norfield Rd
Says "yes" but at a lower price than agreed to...no
deal, as it turned out.
What happened Friday June 21, 2013 at
10:30am, Global Facilities Committee at Town Hall Meeting Room.
Finance Board on
speakerphone - our notes: Regarding
48 Norfield Road, the Global Facilities Committee met Friday at 10:30am
in the Town Hall Meeting Room and heard some strong support for
purchasing the property and then engaging in a community-wide planning
study of what to do in the central part of town, similar to what
Simsbury did some years ago. Agenda notes below:
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE AGENDA ONLINE
FRIDAY JUNE 21, 2013 10:30 AM - before noon.
TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM
1. Discussion/decision regarding the potential uses of 48
Norfield Road - no voting.
2. Discussion/decision regarding Town owned land - preliminary
map displayed without legend - colors meant nother, or so it was
reported. Altho' the Fromson-Strassler property was significantly
3. Discussion/decision regarding school and town facilities -
part of first discussion
"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 there 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 at the meeting 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...of course, that is because the sale to the Town
came after the owner lost an affordable housing claim for the property
in court. The Special Town Meeting that purchased the F-S and the
Moore Property required a standing count for Fromson Strassler, while,
if memory serves, it was a "voice vote" for Maurice Moore.
GLOBAL FACILITIES' first open meeting
Monday June 10, 2013 at
7:45am, Town Hall Meeting Room
What should the goals now be? What's on the
table? What are some of the variables?
At this point there was a discussion of properties owned by the
town of Weston that they might sell - Jarvis, Davis Hill open space,
Lachat, Keene Park, Morehouse.Farm Park, Fromson Strassler.
- Next meeting planned for the end of
June...oops, Special Town Meeting approves lower amount, deal
falls through for former Guidera law office.
- Close Annex, move staff;
- Jarvis - sell? EMS/Communications Center?
- 48 Norfield - Town/School officies? - will know by end of
June if there is interest in buying it.
- Sell previous purchased town open space?
- Declining enrollment in schools (?); space available
study (by same consultant as Board of Police Commissioners);
- First Selectwoman reported...at Planning & Development
Committee in Hartford: "'Lady, you need to change your
- East House Town Use?
- Re purpose space.
- There might be reuse of school buildings for pre-K
- How is our enrollment picture similar or not to other
- On the "Town side" of facilities report implementation
(Kaestel Boos) - town has not done as well as the Board of Ed (see first Committee work) - Police and Fire and
Communications next step
discussion of affordable housing came up briefly.
were voices regarding: no more new buildings, move the bus
garage. Need for coordination of consultants' work mentioned.
Concentrate on new revenue sources, bearing in mind that Weston will
not be getting any larger - keep budgets and new projects in
Also, an addition to historic building (48 Norfield) might
do the trick if the drainage issue can be resolved.
Weston Library is independent of the Town - should part of the Library
be considered for any future town use?
AN OPINION FROM ABOUT WESTON: NOT OPEN
GOVERNMENT. After a Board of Selectmen's meeting, 2 Selectmen
left, others who later participated in "Global Facilities" remained - it
was hard to tell whether this was a Tri-Board meeting with invited
guests - and About Weston was told to leave because it was not a public
meeting since no majority of a Board (or Commission) was present.
Thus the door was shut (below).
FACILITIES COMMITTEE FORMED LATER IN 2013. NOW HAVING OPEN PUBLIC
meeting was Monday
morning June 10, 2013 at 7:45AM in Town Hall Meeting Room below -
follow their efforts in full here, reverse chronological order.
Remember this N.Y.TIMES article? CT has been romancing this concept, as far as our history with it goes, for twenty-two years (22).
Hartford Courant Editorial in full: http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-moving-toward-regionalism-20150213-story.html
EMS PART OF FIRE DEPARTMENT HERE IN WESTON
Weston has a volunteer fire department, with two firehouses - Norfield and Lyons Plain (not shown).
Fire departments agree: We need more volunteers
By Greg Smith, Day Staff Writer
Article published Jul 27, 2014
The diminishing number of volunteers in the fire service over the past
few decades has local departments continually looking for creative ways
not only to attract, but to retain their members.
The Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association, in conjunction with the
International Association of Fire Chiefs, is using a $1.2 million
federal grant this year to tackle the problem. Over the coming weeks,
the groups plan to develop applications and distribute funds to 15
departments with the greatest need for volunteers.
Fire Chief Association President Robert Shea, chief of the Portland Fire
Department, said along with marketing campaigns, mentoring programs and
leadership training, a key factor in the retention of firefighters is
support for the municipalities they serve.
The municipalities can provide the key incentives, he said, in the form
of tax abatements, pensions or pay-per-call stipends. Leadership is also
another major factor, he said.
The more robust the volunteer service, he said, the lower the cost to the towns.
"Recruitment is one thing, but to keep a volunteer today is different
because of time commitments in their everyday life. That trickles back
to cities and towns," he said. "What are they going to do to keep them?"
"Each town has their own unique challenges, some are geographical,"
Morrissette said. "For those rural communities … a town of 3,000 people
just doesn't have the populace to draw from..."
In towns where a volunteer department is also the emergency medical
service provider, volunteers are stressed because the vast majority of
calls are EMS related, he said.
As to a solution to the problem, Morrissette said, "I don't think there is any silver bullet per se."
Towns have responded in a number of ways. Mutual aid agreements have
evolved to include automatic responses from neighboring towns to assure
proper manpower. It's common to see East Lyme's Niantic and Flanders
departments respond to the same call regardless of the district.
Many towns have hired paid staff to cover the times when volunteers are
least available. Montville, Waterford and East Lyme are among towns
staffing multiple fire departments and fire houses with paid
staff. Additionally, Waterford has hired a fire administrator to
help cope with the increasingly taxing job of managing things like
budgets and training schedules.
Some departments, like Old Mystic, which is funded in part through a
fire district tax, offer multiple incentives. Old Mystic Fire Chief
Kenneth Richards Jr. said the department employs stipends and
pay-per-call incentives that are based on qualifications.
"You really have to make it attractive to volunteers with their busy
lifestyles," Richards said. "You also have to have well-thought-out
training. The little bit of time they have, you have to make it
worthwhile. The busier the department, the lesser the problem..."
*Link to New London County chart
of which Fire Departments are volunteer and which are paid.
Please search the New London DAY archives for the remainder of this
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...
Please search the New London DAY archives for the remainder of this story.