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First Selectman's Update

Posted on
November 4, 2020
First Selectman's Office
It’s been raining in Falls Village and we’ve had a little wet snow, a harbinger of the winter to come. The beautiful fall weather we have had as well the magnificent foliage season are coming to a close.  The rain has been a blessing as it is helping to offset the precipitation deficit in our area.  

Unfortunately, our winning streak against the Covid-19 virus was broken with our first reported case last week.  Up to that point, we were the only village, town or city in the state without an incidence.  When you watch the news hear it on the radio or read it in the paper, you know that the number of infections has accelerated nationally and regionally.  Consequently, please be kind to your neighbors and friends by wearing a mask in public, social distance yourself, wash your hands and follow all the protocols suggested by the Connecticut Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control.  

In this regard, we have returned to a ‘lockdown’ status at Town Hall.  If you need help with anything, we’ll still be here to assist you.  Knock on the door or give us a call to make an appointment.  Masks are required and we have a sign-in sheet if you need to come in so that we can do contact tracing if necessary.  

Like almost every town in the United States, we are gearing up for the election. We have received a record number (for our village) of absentee ballots.  We assure you that we have prepared extensively for this and expect no voting problems in Falls Village.

Our sale of the water company is proceeding through the PURA regulatory process.  PURA (Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) has stringent requirements in place to oversee sales of a public utility.  While this process may seem to be onerous and generating too much paper, it is done to protect all parties in a transaction of this type.  We expect that we will have final PURA approval in March of 2021 and can then finalize the sale.  

As you might have noticed on Facebook, there have been several car break-ins when parked at homes around the village.  Please keep your cars locked at night.  This will help us prevent these problems.

The Town of Canaan Planning and Zoning Commission held three public hearings on the application of the Falls Village Housing Trust to construct some affordable rental units in our town and approved their site plan last Thursday night with several conditions that must be met.  The next step is to drill wells to make sure that the water on the site is sufficient.  After that is done, the state would have to finance the project before construction can begin.  

Eversource has been into to see us at Town Hall to explain their new procedures for working with us in a storm such as the one that we just had.  While they admit things didn’t go as well as they should, (a gross understatement), they have pledged to do better with their new system in the future.  PURA made them do it by order but, to their credit, they did come through with a credible plan for the future.  How well they implement it will be a question to be answered at a later date.  

Our new website changes have been delayed for a time.  We still hope to have it up and running quickly.  All the data exchange should be done but there were a few glitches that we have found.  I’ll make sure and let you know when the changeover is complete.  

Many people in the town have asked when the gas station will be open.  They have gas and the only thing that is preventing them from selling it is that the state has requested an A-2 survey of the property.  As soon as that is complete, which should this week, and is submitted, they should have the ability to open.  Ironically, the property is surrounded by three state roads which should have made the boundaries pretty apparent to anyone.  Yet, rules are rules. Hopefully, this will be the last stumbling block preventing sales of gas in our town.

Activity has been progressing on the vacant space at 107 Main Street.  Volunteers have cleaned the space, taken down partitions erected by the previous tenant and are painting the walls.  Our kudos to those who have donated time to make this progress possible.  Some work may have to be done by contractors but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  Certainly, the façade will have to be repainted but that will have to await the passing of winter.  We believe we will find attractive uses for the building in the near future as interest in the space is developing through community efforts.

We are constantly looking for people to populate our Boards and Commissions.  If you would like to participate in our town government, we encourage you to contact me or anyone at Town Hall.  You will find that your contributions will be rewarding for both yourself and the village.  While issues come up that are controversial, they are the exception.  But all of us benefit when citizen involvement increases.  Specifically, we are looking for people to join the Recreation Commission as Darin Dodge accepted a job in West Virginia and Nick Boyden also put in his resignation.

During the past decade, we have had several comments from the state about the condition of our bridges.  Recently, we had Cardinal Engineering do a more detailed study of the many bridges we have in town.  The Board of Selectmen have formed an advisory group to help us develop a long-term plan to address these issues.  While one of our bridges most likely will need to be replaced, we can do maintenance on the others over a 5 to7-year period to extend the expected life of the remaining ones for a decade or more.  Some of this can be done by our town crew.  The members of the advisory group are members of the community with knowledge of construction as well as the entire Board of Selectmen and Tim Downs.  Greg Marlowe is leading the effort.  My thanks to John Allyn, Steve Dean and Chris Kinsella for their help and willingness to help the community.  

The issue of infrastructure maintenance is a national problem.  Many bridges throughout the country are in poor shape.  Our goal is to address this with a plan that saves the town money over the long-term and do it well before budget time next year.  

Another infrastructure issue that is increasingly noticeable during this pandemic is the limitations of our current copper wire.  If you have had a Zoom meeting and your device has frozen, this is a symptom of just plain overcrowding.  You can’t put ten pounds of mud into a five-pound container as Dolly Parton famously said.  This is an issue that we will have to deal with in the future and the faster the better, both in terms of getting this done and in getting services seamlessly.  We are looking for residents who would like to help us get this done for Falls Village. If you are interested, please contact me.