First Selectman Update

Posted on
April 26, 2021
by
First Selectman's Office
We are, hopefully, entering the last stage of the pandemic.  Over the past few days, there have been many declarations from Governor Lamont reducing the restrictions on activities within the state with some taking effect on May 1st and the remainder taking effect on May 20th.  One restriction that remains in force is the mask mandate when indoors.  

Vaccinations are proceeding very well within our state.  We encourage everyone to get vaccinated as the vaccines have proven to be safe and effective.  There is a hold on the J and J shot for the moment but we believe that this will probably be lifted in the next few days with an appropriate warning label.  Note that the odds of having any reaction to that particular vaccine is similar to the odds of getting hit with lightning.  The important issue here is getting everyone a shot.  The sooner that happens, the less the virus can mutate because the only way it can mutate is within a human body.  Therefore, getting the injection protects you and the community.  

Consequently, just continue to be safe and careful for the next couple of months so we can all have a wonderful summer.

Speaking of summer, we are doing a fund-raising through the Falls Village Community Development Corporation for the Recreation Commission of Falls Village. The FVCDC was created as a conduit to funding of this type as a governmental unit is not permitted to access it directly.  This is a matching grant with Sustainable CT.  If the community raises $7,500 dollars, Sustainable CT matches it.  The funds will be used to construct a pergola at the pool so that people can get out of the sum, do some landscaping including several mature trees and provide some soil, compost, etc. for the play area.  To contribute to this, please use the following: Creating a Community Gathering Space in Falls Village.  

During our last Board of Selectmen meeting, we approved putting signage on the entrance to Dublin Road stating “No Access to Great Falls”.  We also intend to put no parking signs on the road.  This is to discourage people using Google Maps from driving down the street when their intention is to get to the falls.  During last summer, the Falls was overrun with visitors as we had the only access on the river open—others having been closed by the towns or the state.  We have been working with the Housatonic Valley Association on this problem so as not to have a repeat of the events of last year.  HVA is having a virtual community meeting on Thursday, May 6th at 7 PM and we encourage concerned community members to register and receive a zoom link @ https://rebrand.ly/river/community/meeting.

Next week, we plan on closing on the sale of our waterworks to Aquarion.  While we know that a few residents weren’t in favor of the sale, we believe ensuring the water supply of the town is in professional hands- whose sole job is delivering water- will protect the town now and into the future.  

Budget season is upon us and we intend to have a public hearing, probably in late May and a Town Meeting, probably in early June, like we have had for almost three hundred years.  (The actual dates will be set by the Board of Finance.) That is, it will be public and open to tax payers.  While we will mandate masks and maintain distances, we want to get back to normal.  It felt very surreal for the selectmen to act as the legislative body during the pandemic and it was a role that we performed very reluctantly.  A Town Meeting is one of the most democratic forms of government and we are delighted to see it return.

Over the past few years, we have lost several old trees that festooned our roads due to storms and old age.  We have started a tree fund reserve in order to plant new trees in our town and Susan Dempsey was kind enough to drop off at Town Hall a list of native trees that can be used for replanting.  If anyone would like a copy of this list, please contact Town Hall and we’ll see that it is sent to you.

We are slowly making progress on bridge repair in the village.  Most of the bridges in town can have their useful lives significantly extended with small interventions by the Public Works staff.  The big bridge on Cobble Road and a culvert near Beavertides Farm is a different story.  In the budget this year, we are putting aside sufficient monies to provide for a study by Cardinal Engineering.  This will lead to the best option for raising the road north of the bridge and culvert to allow year-long navigation.  In turn, this will permit access to homes north of the bridge during the replacement of the bridge.  The bridge, being longer than 20’, is eligible for federal funding in the amount of 80% of the total cost.  The road cost will be at the expense of the town as will the remaining 20% of the bridge.  In all probability this will have to be financed through a loan.

To sum up, get vaccinated, stay safe, wear masks and let’s ensure we can enjoy a normal summer this year.  Barring any new variants showing up and a continuation of our progress against the virus, we can have a car show, go to the pool, congregate in our new coffee shop which should open in the summer along with the art gallery at 107 Main, have public meetings and return to the ‘old normal’ way of life we have enjoyed.

Quick addendum---- We are having another COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Firehouse on Monday, May 3, 2021.  Registration is required and the number to call is 860.605.4822.  It will be the Pfizer vaccine.  So please, if you haven’t been vaccinated, take this opportunity to do so.