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NEW FAIRFIELD – At the November 12 virtual meeting of the Board of Selectmen, the Board heard an update from Candlewood Lake Authority New Fairfield Delegate Joan Archer regarding the CLA’s request for up to $50,000 from the town to partially fund two new patrol boats. Ms. Archer noted that the CLA had been pursuing alternate funding options since she last appeared before the Board.

She announced that their efforts had been successful. FirstLight has pledged to put $100,000 toward the purchase of a patrol boat. That, she said, along with the roughly $59,000 in the CLA’s capital reserve fund will be enough to pay the $150,000 price for the purchase of one patrol boat. As a result, she said the CLA is withdrawing its funding requests from the five towns and will incorporate funding for the second boat into the next fiscal year’s budgeting process.

Ms. Archer thanked the Board for considering the request. She also thanked the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department for its donation of an older rescue boat that the CLA is considering for use as an environmental vessel and a backup patrol boat when it is in need next season.

The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol (CLAMP) currently has two working patrol boats after it was forced to retire two vessels that were no longer seaworthy enough to be used on patrol. Having 4 patrol boats, the CLA asserts, will enable the Marine Patrol to establish safety check points, terminate voyages for safety/overloading violations, and  inform boaters of any restrictions such as island closures. It says that currently, its two boats cannot effectively do this.

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco next gave a COVID-19 update. She noted of Connecticut’s 169 towns, there are currently 100 in the “red zone”, meaning that there are at least 15 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.This, she said, illustrates how quickly the virus has rebounded in the past month. Ms. Del Monaco noted that New Fairfield is now in the red zone with 16 cases per 100,000 residents.

She stressed that high risk individuals should definitely “stay home and stay safe”. She also said that everyone should limit trips outside their home as much as possible, and avoid gatherings with people outside your immediate household. She said that outbursts are originating from small gatherings. She said that the town is canceling public events. The town is closing all fields, parks, including the basketball courts and the dog park and playgrounds. Private organization indoor and outdoor gatherings are also being discouraged.

In addition, Ms. Del Monaco said that new State guidelines require that restaurants be limited to 50% capacity, with no more than 8 at a table. They must have their last seating no later than 9:30pm and must close by 10:00pm. They can still receive take out orders and make deliveries after 10:00pm.  Religious gatherings are limited to the lesser of 50% capacity or 100 worshipers. Gatherings at a public establishment are limited to 25 people inside and 50 people outside. Private gatherings are limited to 10 period.

Ms. Del Monaco also announced that the State is making $5,000 grants from the CARES Act available to small businesses. Those interested should go to CT.gov and search for DECD to go to its website.

Selectman Khris Hall spoke about the plans she and the New Fairfield Health Department are making to vaccinate the town once a COVID vaccination is available perhaps around the end of the year. She said the initial amount of vaccinations will be limited. She said the Town will follow guidance given by the State and the CDC when the time comes. She stated that most likely the first to get vaccinated would be first responders, then critical workers such as teachers and town service providers. Next would be the elderly and high risk individuals.

Record keeping will be electronic through a state database feeding up to the CDC. She said that the Town will be reaching out to the community asking for volunteers to help out. Volunteers would be doing data entry, mixing the vaccine (she indicated that the Pfizer vaccine has two elements that needs to be mixed), and nurses and those with medical experience to administer it.

Ms. Hall estimated that vaccines would not be ready for the rest of the population until at least next April.

Ms. Del Monaco announced that the town had been awarded a STEAP Grant in the amount of $128,205. The grant is to be used for Town Hall and Annex HVAC improvements. This would address ventilation deficiencies in both buildings and allow the Town to put in place COVID-19 standards required by the State for the buildings to remain open to employees and the public. Currently, the Town is making use of open windows and fans to provide ventilation, but that will change once cold weather sets in.

The remaining cost to the town beyond he grant is approximately $96,000.  This would require an appropriation of $225,000 from the General Fund so that the Town has the funds on hand so it can sign the contract. The grant money would then be returned to the General Fund once it is received.

After further discussion, the Board voted to approve the appropriation unanimously.

The Board also discussed the draft of the proposed noise ordinance, particularly setting decibel levels and using subject matter experts to help determine the best unit of measurement as well as the levels. The Board will set up a workshop so that they can discuss this with the SMEs.

The Board also held preliminary discussions on ways to aid small businesses in town during the pandemic. Some ideas discussed possible tax deferrals, spreading word through the Economic Development Commission about the state small business grants among others.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Tuesday, November 24 at 7:30pm.

By Greg Slomba