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Board of Selectmen Meeting Notes: 12/17/14

December 17, 2014 Board of Selectmen Meeting

submitted by Meghan J. Bowden

 On December 17, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) held its second of monthly meeting of December at 6:00pm.

 The recap below takes the agenda’s items in turn. Residents can access the BOS meeting agendas at the following link:[]=120628&jsenabled=1&winh=520&winw=1280&inifr=false.

All BOS members were present: First Selectman Melissa Schlag, Selectman Sean Donlan, Selectman Robert Duval. Ms. Alice Zanelli, Assisstant to First Selectman Melissa Schlag, was absent.   Mr. Ed Schwing, publisher of Haddam Bulletin, video recorded the meeting. Mark Lundgren, Manager of Haddam’s Senior Center, was present. Ed Munster, along with the author of this overview, also attended.

During the first public comments period, Ed Munster inquired about the Higganum Cove site walk that had occurred at 3pm that day. By way of background, Mr. Munster stated that he called the First Selectman’s office to inquire about the event. When First Selectman Schlag returned his call, Mr. Munster noted that Schlag had indicated that the site walk was not open to the public.   A select group of invitees was permitted to observe the Higganum Cove clean-up thus far. Mr. Munster wanted to know why this event was closed to the public. In response, First Selectman Schlag stated that Higganum Cove is still a “very controlled site” at this time. The select group included EPA officials and members of the 2000 Higganum Cove study with technical expertise about environmental clean-up efforts. Once the site is deemed fit for public exposure, Schlag stated that she, state, and federal officials will open the site at that time.

Mark Lundgren, Manager of the town’s Senior Center, wanted to share the following: the Senior Center is in need of a group exercise instructor. In response, First Selectman Schlag stated that she will get the word out about this matter.

In terms of reports, First Selectman Schlag mentioned Animal Control Officer Dawn Kowalski’s regular report. On the morning of Tuesday, December 16, Schlag stated that Kowalski had resolved a situation involving a horse walking down Route 81. According to Schlag, the horse is now being cared for.

The Board then addressed two motor vehicle tax overpayments.

Next, the Board turned to old business items on the agenda.  First, Schlag informed those in attendance of continued speeding issues throughout town.  Specifically, there have been three complaints from three separate individuals of vehicles speeding over 60mph on Walkley Hill.  In addition, Schlag made the Board aware of speeding issues on Maple Avenue.  According to Schlag, people are speeding along Maple Avenue headed to church services on Sundays.  Schlag stated that she has engaged in ongoing discussions with Haddam’s resident troopers about various ways to handle the speeding issues. Second, Schlag announced that the EPA and DEEP will return in Spring 2015 to complete the site clean-up project at Higganum Cove. The agencies’ return is contingent on an extension of statutory authority over the site. The agencies require an extension in both time and funding. To this point, workers have removed nearly 4,000 tons of contaminated soils from the Cove site. According to Janis Tsang, the EPA on-scene coordinator, officials expect to remove another roughly 3,000 tons more of contaminated soils. According to Schlag, the clean-up effort has reduced levels of PCB’s to 1ppm (parts-per-million). This reduction to 1ppm is consistent with residential levels, Schlag stated.

For new business items on the agenda, Schlag asked the Board for a vote on the Nutmeg Connection grant. In basic terms, the Nutmeg Network Connection grant is available to municipalities and towns to connect governmental buildings for various capacities. For example, First Selectman Schlag stated that such a connection would facilitate GIS mapping. In addition, ultimately the idea is for the entire state to be connected via the Nutmeg Network Connection program. The Board vote authorizes Schlag to apply for a grant from the state’s Office of Policy Management (OPM). There are two ways to deal with the wires. One is for the town to own the wires. The other involves leasing the wires and contracting out to another entity for wire maintenance and repair. Selectman Robert Duval noted that the leasing option may sound great at first, with appealingly low prices in the beginning. Selectman Duval noted the potential for a third party to spike maintenance and repair prices as time elapses. Duval’s position is that ownership of the wires is the more optimal route. Schlag responded that if a major storm were to occur, however, the town would absorb all of the costs associated with the repairs. Duval reiterated the point that in a lease-wire scenario, the third party may capitalize on an inherent flexibility to raise prices higher and often. For the Municipal Technical Assistance Program, Schlag informed the Board that they simply needed to reauthorize the town’s application. This program may assist with things like updating the town’s servers and moving to a cloud-based concept.

Finally, Schlag discussed recent complaints her office has received about the use of Jake/air brakes through Higganum Center. She mentioned that other municipalities and towns across the country have made it illegal in certain areas to use these brakes. Schlag stated that she is in dialogue with the troopers about how to proceed.