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