As I sit writing this, it is a beautiful spring day with temperatures around 80 degrees. It is a great time of year to be outside and enjoying all the activities that late spring and summer bring. However, given the pandemic, please remember to maintain social distancing and wear your mask when you come into a group walking the other way on a trail. Our village has so far kept the virus at bay and we want to keep it that way. Further, always wear your mask when you enter a store or are going to your table at the outside seating at a restaurant. Our state is doing the best it can in re-opening Connecticut in a safe and prudent way and this is just a gentle reminder to do your part. Keep yourselves and others healthy.
The Governor has appointed the local officials as the enforcement authority for ensuring that people wear masks and continue social distancing for the foreseeable future. Our goal is just to lightly remind everyone of the rules and we don’t expect to give out any fines. Let’s just keep up the good work we have all done to get us this far. Officially, we still have no cases of Covid-19 in our town but I do caution everyone that many people are asymptomatic and may have had the disease.
Town Hall has returned to its normal hours of operation which are 9 AM to 3 PM, Monday through Wednesday and 9AM to Noon on Thursday. We will permit visitors by appointment only to enter Town Hall. This is primarily for those persons who have to look through town records for deed transfer purposes and they must be masked and, if they are going through town records, gloved. No one will be allowed into the building without a mask. Our Town Hall is thinly staffed and, as I need to remind myself, staffed with a majority of people within the most vulnerable age group-people over 60. Consequently, we will maintain this mode until at least June 20th when we expect we will reach the second stage of re-opening the state.
Many people have asked us whether or not the pool will be opening this summer. Darin Dodge, who is the Chairman of the Recreation Commission and I have done all the preliminary planning to allow the pool to re-open but still have not received any definitive guidance from the state on whether we can open or not. If we can open, and we hope we can, we will have to follow whatever guidelines the state mandates which may limit capacity and will certainly demand the maintenance of social distancing and wearing masks when outside the pool itself. When we know for sure that we can or cannot open, we will let the public know.
Tomorrow night, we are holding a Public Hearing on our budgets for the next fiscal year. The hearing is taking place on Zoom and the contact points are noted on our website. This year, the Board of Selectmen will act as the final legislative body to approve the Budget. This has been mandated by the Governor so we will not have a Town Meeting which is our normal practice. As we interpret the rules, the Board of Selectmen can only approve or disapprove the budget resolutions given to us by the Board of Finance and can not alter them.
At this meeting, we will also vote on four proposals. The first is the replacement of one of the town trucks. The second is the replacement of two aged fire trucks with a used one, in mint perfect condition. The third is to finance a bridge study to closely inspect all the bridges in town and get definitive cost estimates on the repairs necessary to extend their useful life. All of these expenses will come out of reserves set aside for these purposes. The last is the usual proposal to pre-approve our banking relationships for the year.
While the Board of Selectmen will have the authority to do the above this year, we note that the Board of Finance sets the mil rate for the next fiscal year. That decision will be made after the Public Hearing.
For those of you who haven’t driven through the town center, we have continued to refurbish the plantings in the town. Also, there is a plan to open a Village Green market in the town at 108 Main Street. The group that is organizing this would really like to hear the input of the town’s residents as to what the town would like to have in the market. Any thoughts you might have should be sent to Community@canaanfallsvillage.org
We will be sending a note with our tax bills this year asking residents, both full and part-time, to send us contact information in case of emergency notifications. You can also sign up to allow us to send you notifications of town website information changes if you so desire. The preferred method is to get your cell number so we can send text messages. The pandemic has heightened the necessity of being able to reach you quickly if necessary but the planning of this preceded the Covid crisis.
The Broadband initiative remains active. The Northwest Hills Council of Government and the leadership of our town realize that this would be best achieved through a regional plan rather than town by town. We are pursuing this through the federal government and through strong national providers. This will take time but, again, during this crisis we have seen the difficulty of getting adequate service through the copper wires that have only limited bandwidth. The internet is still in its infancy and the introduction of new services requiring stronger and faster fiber-optic cable will be a must in the next 40 year time period. It will help us keep our youth in our towns, provide jobs that will keep us fully employed and strengthen our housing market. All of these factors, plus many that our too numerous to detail, will keep this area vibrant through the next two generations.
Finally, we thank our citizens for be so protective of themselves and others through the Covid pandemic. It has been a humbling experience to see the generosity and good will displayed here in this little village.