New Fairfield’s Public Works Department keeps the municipal side of the town running smoothly. Most people know that Public Works is responsible for plowing and keeping our roads clear in the winter and paving them and making sure that drainage from precipitation is not causing problems during warmer months. Public Works is overseen by Russ Loudon, who also heads the Highway Department. Lloyd Decker is in charge of Buildings and Grounds – making sure that our municipal buildings are operating well — no small challenge given the age of some of our buildings – and fields and other town land are maintained. With one employee added last year to address work that wasn’t getting done, New Fairfield has 13 Public Works employees in total. The budget for Public Works this fiscal year is just under $2,250,000, representing approximately 20 percent of the total municipal budget for New Fairfield.
In addition to these ongoing annual responsibilities, Public Works addresses other town infrastructure issues as they arise. Following is a list of a few activities they have recently addressed or are now addressing.
Drop Off Center. Mike Smith is our new gate attendant at New Fairfield’s Drop Off Center (DOC), located at 33 Bigelow Road. The DOC includes electronics, mattress, and fabric recycling, as well as normal disposal services. Hours for the DOC are Tuesday & Saturday 8:00 am to 3:45 pm and Thursday evenings from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. You must have a permit to use the DOC. It can be obtained by filling out an application at the Drop Off Center – or filling in an online version, printing it and taking it to the DOC. Starting July 1, permits will be valid for the year starting July 1. Half year permits are available for the period before July 1. The DOC has a new cordless device for credit cards and Apple Pay for permit fees and disposal fees. Cash is not accepted. Further information on DOC services can be found at http://www.newfairfield.org/municipal-departments/services/public-works/drop-off-center-permits.
Winter Road Treatment. Public Works tested the use of treated salt this winter on our icy roads. With this particular treatment, moisture refreezes only below twenty degrees. Mr. Loudon says this product produced great results this year. Fewer applications were needed and less salt was used – a large benefit for an area so dependent on groundwater and interested in protecting our abundant water resources.
Stairs at Memorial Field. Late last year, Public Works installed new stairs to Memorial Field from the parking lots above it. They are galvanized steel with hand rails – a big improvement over the wooden steps that have deteriorated. The old steps will be removed this spring and that area will be regraded and seeded. New lighting will be installed to improve safety for evening events on Memorial Field
Williams Pond. Public Works will treat Williams Pond as needed to prevent algae using an organic system — barley in a biodegradable wrapper that ferments and then prevents algae film from developing. This nonchemical system has been effective in preventing the algae that used to plague Williams Pond.
Renovations to Community Playground. The Community Playground located near the lower lot parking for the High School and the dog park has been given a facelift. Public Works installed a new plastic border, added new chips, and made the playground wheelchair accessible.
New Lighting. Public Works is working with EverSource to install new lighting at Memorial Field, The Drop Off Center, and at the Public Works building. EverSource will install and maintain the fixtures at no cost to the Town. New Fairfield will pay the electrical rate for using them.
Town Hall Annex Generator. We discovered during the 2018 storm that an additional generator would improve reliability of town services during emergency situations. Public Works will install a new propane-powered generator this year next to the Town Hall Annex.
Improvements to Marina. As part of the longer-term improvement to docks at the Town Park, Public Works took broken docks out of the water and moved them to Public Works, where they cut off damaged ends and replaced hinges. This fall they will also widen fairways and install a gangway compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act onto the docks after this year’s boating season. The Town has gone out to bid to partially replace some docks and install a new mooring system that will improve the safety and longevity of the docks. This work is now planned for the fall after boats come out of the water.
These are just a few of the things our Public Works team does to make New Fairfield a safe and enjoyable place to live. For more information, check out their page on the Town’s website: http://www.newfairfield.org/municipal-departments/services/public-works.