NEW FAIRFIELD – At the October 8 virtual meeting of the Board of Selectmen, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco gave a brief COVID-19 update, saying that the CDC and Department of Public Health have posted some Halloween guidelines. These have been posted on the Town website and Facebook page. The guidelines outline some ways to trick or treat safely as well as suggestions for alternative activities. Trick or treating has been classified as a high risk activity by the CDC.
Ms. Del Monaco noted that there is currently one active COVID-19 case in town. She encouraged everyone to continue wearing a mask, social distancing and washing hands.
Selectman Kim Hanson reminded residents to remain vigilant in their safe practices, noting that active cases in Connecticut have been on the rise in the past month.
Candlewood Lake Authority New Fairfield Delegates Joan Archer and Jeff Main were back with a continuation of the public safety presentation to the Board on behalf of the CLA. Ms. Archer noted that since 2017, the number of boats on the lake has increased roughly 10%.
They described the role the CLA Marine Patrol plays in keeping the lake safe and the strain the increase in traffic has put on the Patrol’s resources, namely its patrol boats. Of the four existing patrol boats, two have had to be removed from service this season as the increased wear and tear has rendered them unfit for service.
Ms. Archer noted that four vessels on the lake would 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.
In 2021, they said, the CLAMP needs four boats to adequately patrol the lake. The CLA is currently looking to purchase two commercial boats at $150,000 each. The CLA is looking for each of the 5 towns surrounding the lake to contribute $60,000 toward the purchase which, they said, would have to happen soon to ensure the boats could be ready for next year.
Ms. Del Monaco asked if the CLA had approached FirstLight and the DEEP for possible partial funding and if the CLA itself had any available funds with which to defray some of the cost. Ms. Archer said that the CLA would be meeting with FirstLight and the DEEP for contributions as well. She noted that CLA’s capital reserves total roughly $70,000 and was being earmarked for a third boat that will be needed in the next two or three years.
Board Member Kim Hanson asked if the CLA was approaching FirstLight Power and the State (DEEP) about providing funding. He noted that in his view the ultimate responsibility for patrolling the lake rested with DEEP. Ms. Archer replied that the CLA had approached FirstLight and that she was “cautiously optimistic” that As for DEEP, she said that the CLA was working on setting up a meeting with them. She said that although DEEP would most likely not come through with any money, they might be able to help out in other ways.
Ms. Del Monaco asked about the CLA’s capital reserve fund and if some of the funds needed could be taken from that. Ms. Archer said there was approximately $59,000 in the fund, but that some would be used for dock repair. She did say that the CLA planned to use an undetermined amount toward the boat cost.
Ms. Del Monaco said that while she sees the need for the new patrol boats, it is a difficult financial year for area municipalities. She asked if any of the other towns had approved some of all of their portion of the funds. Ms. Archer replied that Brookfield had approved the entire $60,000 amount. She said New Milford was very supportive and was waiting two weeks to see where other towns were. They met with Sherman which will discuss the matter at its regular BOS meeting. The CLA was also planning to meet with Danbury soon.
Selectman Khris Hall said she also saw the need, but agreed that finances were tight at the moment. She said that anything that could be done to bring the cost per town down from the $60,000 figure would be helpful.
While he said he understood the need for 4 boats, Mr. Hanson reiterated his stance that the State should be pressed for funding on a consistent, yearly basis to provide support for the needs of the CLAMP on an ongoing basis.
Ms. Del Monaco outlined the process any approval on New Fairfield’s part would have to go through. Such a request, she said, would have to be voted on by the BOS, then go to the Town’s Board of Finance for approval under the Governor’s executive order rather than to a town meeting. She said the BOS could not vote until it had a firm amount requested and that she was not comfortable on having a vote until some of the other funding options discussed had been settled.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for Thurs., October 22 at 7:30pm.
By Greg Slomba