Town of Stratford: Community Organizations Updates

January 2021

Stratford Community Organizations Council
Meeting Minutes January 7, 2021

Stratford Library:
The library’s popular “Books Over Coffee” series has continued online and via Zoom on monthly Wednesdays.

The Library’s “Sunday Afternoon Talks” series also continues in 2021 on Zoom and the first program will be “An Adventure Through Iceland”, a fascinating travelogue on January 24 from 2- 3 PM. Please see attached flyer for more details.

Current Library Hours: Monday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday: 10 -5, Tuesday/Wednesday: 1-8 pm

Square One Theatre Company:

The theatre is currently closed and plans on reopening in November 2021 to finally continue its 30 anniversary season. Call 203-375-8778 for more information.

Stratford Health Department:

Health Department has started their COVID-19 vaccine clinics for Phase 1a employees which includes healthcare personnel, first responders, and long-term care facility residents. We are waiting for guidance from CDC and CT DPH about Phase 1b.

Stratford Crier:

Stratford Crier is up and running. Please send organization information that you would like included in the Crier to barbara@stratfordcrier.com.

Stratford Historical Society:
The Historical Society will reopen on January 12th by appointment only.

On January 31st at 2 pm there will be a wrap-up of 2020. Talking about how the suffrage experience was different here in Stratford and how it was a unique experience compared other towns.

Visit the Historical Society website at stratfordhistoricalsociety.org to view historic pictures and puzzles.

Visit the Facebook page Stratford 400 to receive information and news on the 400th annual celebration.

Stratford Senior Center:
Baldwin continues to process their Energy Assistance applications. Operation Fuel has started for the winter season. Baldwin has received 10k and has additional funds from the CDBG grant to assist their families this season.

Baldwin will continue their virtual programs. If any one is offering programs that they think may be of interest to seniors, please let them know and they can advertise it in their newsletter.

The weekly meal drive-thru continues to be very popular. Baldwin recently offered a meal from Vazzy’s and will be doing a Mac and Cheese Drive-thru next week.

A bid for floors and paint will be presented to the Town Council next week. Hopeful that they will be able begin renovations soon.

Baldwin will be joining a consortium with surrounding towns and GBT to take seniors to their medical appointments that are out of town.

Baldwin received an additional bus that will be used to transport seniors.

Arts Alliance of Stratford:
First figure drawing class of the year was held via zoom on1/6/21. Classes are being offered and can be found on website at artsallianceofstratford.org/arts-workshops-2021/

Follow Arts Alliance of Stratford on Facebook and Instagram.

Stratford CARE:
The CARE reads program needs volunteers to help read books to Stratford students pre-k to 3rd grade. Volunteers will record themselves reading a book that will be then be distributed to the Stratford classrooms. Those who cannot go to the library for the recording are able to record at home. If you are interested, please email Tammy at tammlangston@gmail.com

The next Courageous Conversations Zoom session will be on January 21 st .

South End Community Center:
SECC will be offering free income tax assistance for those whose annual income is less then $53,000. Call South End to make an appointment to drop off your tax documents.

Stratford Continuing Education:
Located at Wooster Middle School. Offering classes through their Enrichment program and offering GED classes starting January 26 th .

Sterling House:
Sterling House will remain open on MLK Day.

Sterling House is receiving a lot of calls from teens looking for volunteer opportunities. If you know of an organization that could use volunteers, please call Pam Robertson.

Stratford Planning and Zoning:
The Stratford Housing Partnership is conducting a community survey about housing needs in Stratford and possible housing strategies for the future.

The Housing Partnership is a Town Committee established in 1990 and reinvigorated in 2020 to, among other things:

  • Examine housing needs and housing opportunities within the Town
  • Periodically advise Town Boards and Commissions with regard to housing matters, including affordable housing.
  • Develop and activate a long-range plan to satisfy housing needs in the Town (as required by State law).

As an individual served by a non-profit organization in Stratford, the Housing Partnership is particularly interested in your thoughts about local housing needs and possible housing strategies in Stratford. We would greatly appreciate your participation in this survey.

Housing survey link for staff of organizations/councils:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Stratford_Organizations

Housing survey link for individuals served by various organizations in town:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Stratford_Needs

Stratford Economic Development:
Shakespeare Market taking place 1/17 at the Shakespeare property.

Like them on Facebook for up-to-date information on the Market!

Beautification Committee:
Committee is in the process of removing holiday decorations and planning for their spring plantings.

Stratford YMCA:
You can see YMCA programs that are up and running for the new year their website: www.stratfordymca.org

Stratford Town Council Meeting

Summary of December 14, 2020 Meeting

The following town residents spoke during the Public Hearing portion of the Stratford Town Council meeting:

Mike Aloi, President of the Stratford Library Association. Mr. Aloi updated the Town Council on current library programs, as well as reported on the future of the Library. According to Mr. Aloi the current building is inadequate for town needs. Meeting spaces are cramped, the stem lab is small, teen department is next to main computer room. The state average for library meeting space is for 125 people, ours is 80. Stratford Library has .68 square feet of space, state average, 1.1 square feet, which would mean that the Stratford Library would need an additional 22,000 square feet to meet that average. Mr. Aloi is seeking Council assistance to do a study to increase the library space.

Karen Tracy and Kathleen Callahan commented on a resolution presented by Councilwoman Shake that would declare racism as a Public Health issue in town. Ms. Tracy felt that the revised resolution by the Town Council did not include any of the input from public and asked that the Town Council go back and revisit the resolution.

Ms. Callahan noted that she would like to see Stratford on leading edge of addressing racism, rather than on the sidelines.

Barbara Heimlich, had questions regarding the CARES act: requesting information on who submitted applications and who received the grants. Ms. Heimlich also inquired about the Baldwin Senior Center fresh food program, who has the contract for the program, and is the program still active? Also would like transparent information on the Stratford Grand List for the last 2 years, who came on and who left.

Upon adjournment of the Public Hearing, the Stratford Town Council held their regularly scheduled meeting.

Mayor Laura Hoydick’s “Mayor’s Report”

The Mayor’s Report included the following:

Connecticut CARES, will give grants to qualified businesses, up to $2,500. To date 28 businesses have applied.

Center School: There are currently 2 proposals, which will be presented to the Stratford Redevelopment Agency at their January meeting.

Shakespeare Property Subcommittee:
Also to be discussed during the January meeting of the Stratford Redevelopment Agency is a report on the development of the Shakespeare Theatre property. During the December 3rd meeting of the Redevelopment Agency, there was a presentation of Shakespeare Property Subcommittee research by Chairman Greg Reilly. Mr. Reilly
reviewed the previously distributed information packet re: research findings citing 15 comparable facilities as examples. The example facilities cited are located in other States as well as in Connecticut. Categories for consideration for development are Open Space/Park options, outdoor venues, multipurpose spaces – small, multipurpose spaces – large, combination venues. Each category was described and the location cited. Suggestions for immediate property improvement, community vision and funding were also discussed.

Short-term/long-term uses for the Stratford site were reviewed as well as input from the 5 community workshops and the survey. Short-term use included outdoor theater, festivals, fairs, and open space.

During the Question and Answer session of the meeting, questions and discussion went forward re: identifying sources of redevelopment revenue for the Stratford Shakespeare Property, non-profit financial support for the cited example venues, clarifying usage of waterfront property. Next steps for crafting a vision which is consistent with the deed’s call for public access, having open space and possibility for future development.

Development in phases, short and long term and combine enhancement with Complete Streets and Greenway Projects. The street below the Stratford Shakespeare property, Shore Road, was discussed. The street is not part of the property. It becomes flooded during high tides and storms. It needs to be elevated but has chemical contamination underneath. It was suggested that the staircase that previously existed from Shore Road to Shakespeare Property become restored. It is noted that such a staircase must be ADA compliant. Remediation of the existing buildings on the property is noted.

Mayor Hoydick pointed out that the costume house is not worth rehabbing. Information was put forward re: encumbrances to property, survey is complete, plans for adjoining wetlands, 1500 year flood plain, Zoning restrictions and easement to property.

Army Engine, end of year report expected.
495 Lordship Boulevard, demolition complete, the developer is in the process of getting building permit for the 260-thousand-foot building.
91 Wood Avenue is presently town property; it will be offered to neighbors before then thrown out for sale for development. Possibility of 3 building lots.
Exit 32 and Exit 33 is moving along, with an expected release of property to be negotiated with former Ross and Roberts property and Hudson paper. The Mayor also commented on the Hawley lane traffic issue which has been a source of complaints, she said it is being addressed.

The Mayor also said that the 2 year look-back on Grand List requested by Councilwoman Kaitlyn Shake will be presented at the next Town Council meeting.

Following the Mayor’s Report the Town Council presented, and approved an ordinance to create an Education Reserve Fund pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes Section 10- 248a to provide funding resources solely for future Board of Education non-recurring expenses such as capital, technology, and/or unanticipated special education expenditure funding needs.

Contributions to Fund. Subject to audit confirmation of the Board of Education’s available year-end balance and the status of the unassigned General Fund balance, the Town Council may, except as provided below, deposit into a nonlapsing account any unexpended funds of the prior fiscal year from the budgeted appropriation for education for the town. This amount may not exceed two percent (2%) of the total budgeted appropriation for education for such prior fiscal year, or such other percentage as authorized by Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-248a.

The appropriation shall not be considered by the Town Council until the end of the third quarter of the current fiscal year. If, prior to the appropriation being made, the State of Connecticut reduces and/or withholds ECS revenue in an amount greater than provided for in the Town budget, the appropriation request of the Board of Education may be denied in part or in whole.

The Education Reserve Fund shall be part of the Town’s pooled cash account or a separate cash account in the custody of the Town Finance Director. The Town Finance Director may, from time to time, invest all or any part of the monies in said Education Reserve Fund in any securities in which public funds may lawfully be invested. All income derived from such investments shall be paid into the Town’s General Fund and become a part thereof.

The Board of Education shall also maintain a ledger of the deposits and withdrawals of the fund within their records

Stratford Town Council Meeting: Monday, November 9, 2020

A Resolution Regarding Racism as a Public Health Emergency Introduced by Councilwoman Kaitlyn Shake of District 2

Councilwoman Kaitlyn Shake, District 2 Council Member, on Monday, November 9th , introduced a resolution to the Stratford Town Council requesting that Racism be addressed by the Town of Stratford, and assert that racism presents a public health crisis affecting residents of Stratford.

Her proposal asks that the Town of Stratford be an equity and justice-oriented municipal organization, by continuing to identify specific activities to enhance diversity and to ensure anti-racism principles across our municipal governance and throughout our community; Promote equity through all policies approved by the Town of Stratford through its municipal governance and enhance educational efforts aimed at identifying, addressing and dismantling racism and how it affects the delivery of human and social services, economic development and public safety; Improve the quality of the data collected by the Town of Stratford and the analysis of that data—it is not enough to assume that an initiative is producing its intended outcome, qualitative and quantitative data should be used to assess inequities in impact and continuously improve; Continue to advocate locally for relevant policies that improve health in communities of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism; Further work to solidify alliances and partnerships with other organizations that are confronting racism and encourage other local, state, regional, and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis; Support community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color wherever they live; and, Identify clear goals and objectives, including periodic reports to the Town of Stratford Administration and its Town Council, to assess progress and capitalize on opportunities to further advance racial equity.

Here is the Honorable Councilwoman Shake’s complete resolution:

6.2.2 A RESOLUTION REGARDGING RACISM AS A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

Sponsored by: Honorable Kaitlyn Shake, District 2 Council Member

WHEREAS, racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism that is interpersonal and/or internalized or systemic racism that is institutional or structural, and is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks; and

WHEREAS, race is a social construct with no biological basis; and WHEREAS, racism unfairly disadvantages specific individuals and communities, while unfairly giving advantages to other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources; and WHEREAS, racism is a root cause of poverty and constricts economic mobility; and WHEREAS, racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, employment, and criminal justice, and is itself a social determinant of health; and WHEREAS, racism and segregation have exacerbated a health divide resulting in people of color in Connecticut bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and mortality including COVID-19 infection and death, heart disease, diabetes, and infant mortality;

and WHEREAS, Black, Native American, Asian and Latino residents are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as a consequence of inequities in economic stability, education, physical environment, food, and access to health care and these inequities are, themselves, a result of racism; and WHEREAS, more than 100 studies have linked racism to worse health outcomes; and STRATFORD TOWN COUNCIL NOTICE & AGENDA NOVEMBER 9, 2020 7 WHEREAS, the collective prosperity and well-being of Stratford residents depends upon equitable access to opportunity for every resident regardless of the color of their skin. Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the Town Council of Stratford 1. Assert that racism presents a public health crisis affecting residents of Stratford; 2. Commit to progress the Town of Stratford as an equity and justice-oriented municipal organization, by continuing to identify specific activities to enhance diversity and to ensure anti-racism principles across our municipal governance and throughout our community; 3. Promote equity through all policies approved by the Town of Stratford through its municipal governance and enhance educational efforts aimed at identifying, addressing and dismantling racism and how it affects the delivery of human and social services, economic development and public safety; 4. Improve the quality of the data collected by the Town of Stratford and the analysis of that data—it is not enough to assume that an initiative is producing its intended outcome, qualitative and quantitative data should be used to assess inequities in impact and continuously improve; 5. Continue to advocate locally for relevant policies that improve health in communities of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism; 6. Further work to solidify alliances and partnerships with other organizations that are confronting racism and encourage other local, state, regional, and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis; 7. Support community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color wherever they live; and 8. Identify clear goals and objectives, including periodic reports to the Town of Stratford Administration and its Town Council, to assess progress and capitalize on opportunities to further advance
racial equity.