Town Council Meeting Public Comments
The Stratford Town Council conducted a regular meeting on September 13th at 8 p.m.. During the public comment portion of the meeting, (which begins at 6:30 p.m., and adjourns one hour before the regular meeting) speakers were:
Mark Hannon, President, Arts Alliance of Stratford, spoke to Council members about all upcoming events sponsored by the Arts Alliance.
Mitzi Antezzo, expressed her concern over the Town of Stratford mandating that developers vying for the Center School Redevelop contract provide underground parking. Ms. Antezzo detailed the history of flooding in Stratford Center, as well as the recent flooding that occurred with Tropical Storm Ada (which brought 5 inches of rain to Stratford). She wanted to know who was going to be responsible for flood damage when the buildings were complete; were the contractors going to include flood prevention in their plans.
Kathleen Callahan, shared her thoughts on the proposed Stratford use of the American Rescue Plan (ARP), a once-in-a-generation investment opportunity for our town. She believes that the use of the ARP requires community input to set priorities and a focus on racism as a public health crisis. “Racism is a social determinant of health, causing inequity and disparate outcomes in many areas of life… While not a new situation, COVID-19 has highlighted this health divide with people of color in Connecticut bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and death.”
She pointed out that the Connecticut Council of Municipalities (CCM), the largest, nonpartisan organization of local leaders across the state, crafted a toolkit that provided guidance on how to best allocate this funding. They encourage expenditures that include addressing racial inequities and disproportionate harm by identifying and addressing pre-COVID barriers to growth.
CCM also recommends that local leaders convene all stakeholders in the community and build consensus about needs, resources, and priority-setting. Previously approved capital improvement and equipment may be key components of our local annual budgeting yet not necessarily the best use of these funds. I urge this body to not rush to allocate this money to existing priorities but rather to step back and examine the total picture of our communities’ needs. Indeed the CCM states that we should be intentionally planning our horizon for this funding through 2026.
ARP dollars are the Willy Wonka “golden ticket” – a gift from the federal government to help recover from the pandemic while investing in projects and people who have not been the focus before. We can not only recover but grow, when we change our perspective to include ideas that never make it to the decision table.
Note: Barbara Heimlich also expressed dissatisfaction over the proposed spending of ARP monies by the Town, as well as seeing no input, nor monies, spent on non-profits and small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Jennifer Budai one of the issues that she brought up was that the Town Council, who are elected by residents and serve at our pleasure, were disingenuous in holding a public hearing that is not attended by all council members, the mayor and her staff, as well as other department heads. No opportunity for feedback to comments. She reminded all that it was a tradition to do so, and now that council meetings are once again in person, should be reinstated. She also weighed in on ARP and how there have been surveys coast to coast on what to do with monies, none of which Stratford seems to have mirrored.
Stephanie Philips voiced concern over the flooding in District 3, a chronic problem which has been overlooked. She pointed out that most of the District sits in a flood plain; residents pay extra insurance for being in a flood plain, and after each heavy rainfall spend yet more money on pumping out basements. She also noted that the water is so high that the police block off streets, which hampers the response of ambulances, fire and police. She asked the Town Council to look into catch basins.
Linda Palermo requested that Stonybrook Housing be added to “affordable housing” listing, which would enable residents to get funding for upgrades and repairs.
Town Council Meeting Highlights:
Grants have been submitted and approved for:
- Funding for the latest de-escalation techniques for the Stratford Police Department
- Grant to acquire and install up to 240 smoke/CO alarms with a bed shaker device for residents who are hearing impaired or hearing disabled.
- A grant through the Connecticut Department of Economic Development’s State Historic Preservation Office to hire a qualified professional to conduct a survey and capital needs assessment on the Sterling Homestead at 2225 Main Street.
Consolidated Edison Solutions Inc. was awarded the contract for five school solar photovoltaic projects to be installed at Bunnell, Stratford Academy/Johnson House/ Wooster, Chapel Street, Second Hill Lane. The total amount is: $2,503,545.48.
Approval of a cost overrun of $10,914.41 for approved electrical service at West Broad/Linden for a revised total of $22,662.91.
Awarding Titan Enterprises Inc. for Juliet Low Park improvements in the amount of $63,800.
Editor’s Note: To see the projects that the Town of Stratford plans to spend our ARP monies on go to the Town of Stratford website.