From the Litchfield First Selectman - 2022 in Review
This year end message allows the First Selectman’s office the opportunity to highlight the town’s achievements and share our goals for the Town of Litchfield as we close out 2022 and look forward to 2023.
It continues to be my pleasure to serve this community as your First Selectman. I am grateful to the town employees and volunteers that spend countless hours serving the residents and serving on town boards and commissions, and as firefighters and on ambulance crews. Each of you commit the time that is essential in order to run small towns like ours. There are no words of appreciation that are great enough. I extend my sincere Thank you for your selfless dedication to the Town of Litchfield.
It’s been a busy year and we have accomplished many of our objectives. The following are some of the highlights of 2022
ADOPTED AN AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLAN
Ct Public Act 17-170 requires that Connecticut municipalities adopt an Affordable Housing Plan by 2022, and every 5 years thereafter. The Town appointed a Housing Plan Steering Committee, representing Real Estate Professionals, Social Services, the Litchfield Housing Trust, the Litchfield Housing Authority, the Economic Development Commission, Planning & Zoning, Sustainable Litchfield and the Litchfield Board of Selectmen. The Steering committee met for several months with the assistance of a Planner developed a plan with input from resident and worker surveys. The Board of Selectmen and the Planning & Zoning Commission adopted the Litchfield Affordable Housing Plan, it was submitted to the State in November 2022 and it will be included in the Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. (POCAD)
Many of our town departments, volunteer boards, commissions and councils continue to apply for grants to help offset the costs incurred by our property taxpayers.
I am proud to announce that again Litchfield has been awarded a Small Town Economic Assistant Program (STEAP) grant in the amount of $500,000 for the reconstruction of Marsh Rd (School House Rd Campville Rd, including Reder Rd) Thank you to the Public Works Director Raz Alexe and the Public Works Supervisor Naomi Boccio for your commitment to secure as much grant monies as possible for the improvement of our 120 miles of road, bridges and culverts.
I would like to acknowledge the addition and completion of the White Memorial Parking lots, secured by a Connectivity Grant in 2017, that came to fruition this year, lead by the steadfast dedication of Raz Alexe in cooperation and coordination with the White Memorial Foundation and the State of Connecticut DOT. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly appreciative of these new safe, off street parking lots.
Most recently, we learned that the Town of Litchfield was also awarded a $1,000,000 Small Cities Community Development Block Grant. This grant will be applied at the Bantam Falls property for window replacements, failing infrastructure improvements, updated lighting and to create additional ADA compliant accommodations for our senior population.
The Traffic Safety Community Action Group (TSCAG) applied and received a $50,000 Seherr-Thoss Grant to help offset the costs of a traffic study, required by the State of CT in order to move forward with any road improvements or structural changes to make our roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.
The newly formed Litchfield Arts Council also received a $10,000 Seherr-Thoss grant to promote the arts and introduce more cultural events in Town. We are grateful to the Seherr-Thoss Foundation. Every year, Seherr-Thoss fills in many of the financial gaps ofour Schools, our Emergency Responders and local non-profit organizations that benefit all of us.
GRANTS WAITING ON APPROVALS FOR 2023
The Sustainable Litchfield Committee, with support from the Public Works Department, submitted a VW Settlement grant for $214,797 to install 6 EV Car Charger stations on municipally owned property.
The Traffic Safety Committee submitted a $1.6 million Safe Streets for All Grant to assist the Town with road and crosswalk improvements to make our roads safer for pedestrians and vehicles.
Social Services is awaiting a Benas Grant in the amount of $15,000, which will complement the CT Municipal Matching Transportation Grant of over $30,000 to continue to offset the costs associated with local transportation provided for our seniors and disabled.
Town Meeting Approvals
1. The Right to Farm Ordinance
2. An agreement with USA Hauling & Recycling, Inc for Municipal Waste Disposal and Recycling
3. Interlocal Agreement with Harwinton to share their Animal Control Facility and Animal Control Officer
Two Rounds of American Rescue Plan (ARPA) money has been received by the Town of Litchfield totaling $1,822,000
1st Round ARPA FUNDS APPROVALS
4. WPCA Mechanical Bar Screen $150,000
5. $150,000 in ARPA Funds to support Businesses and Non Profit with Loss of Revenue due to COVID
6. $30,000 in ARPA Funds for the Economic Development Commission
7. $10,000 in ARPA Funds for the Litchfield Hills CHORE Services
8. $5,000 in ARPA Funds for the Litchfield Arts Council to expand arts and culture opportunities
9. $27,448 in ARPA Funds for the East Litchfield Fire Dept generator
10. $18,000 WPCA Polymer Mixer
11. . DPW Flood Resiliency Study $35,000 (CIP)
12. EV Car Chargers $10,000 (CIP)
13. DPW MS-4 Stormwater Study $60,000 (CIP)
14. Bantam Annex Ventilation Upgrade (Post Office) $40,000 (CIP)
15. Northfield Fire Dept, 2nd floor completion - $50,000 (CIP)
16. Litchfield Volunteer Ambulance (Replace Old Ambulance) $111,000 (CIP)
17. Broadband Municipal Hubs $50,000 (CIP)
18. Litchfield Firehouse Improvements $50,000 (CIP)
19. East Litchfield Fire Dept (Apparatus Bay Ceiling) $25,000 (CIP)
20. Traffic Study – Address Safety Issues $50,000 (CIP)
21. Ten Year Plan for Park & Rec - $15,000 (CIP)
The ARPA Committee, the Boards of Selectmen and Finance have unanimously approved the following Second Round of ARPA REQUESTS as follows: NEXT STEP: THE 2nd Round of ARPA REQUESTS WILL GO TO THE ANNUAL TOWN MEETING FOR THE END OF JANUARY 2023
1.$73,165 from the Broadband Committee, Chairman John Morosani, to complete the 2nd phase of the Broadband rollout for the Town of Litchfield.
2.$105,000 from the Litchfield Housing Authority Executive Director, Jim Simoncelli. Acquire the property adjacent to Wells Run to allow for the expansion of the affordable housing by 4-8 units
3.$10,000 – submitted by Cathy Fields, Litchfield Historical Society – to support children’s programs that they offer for free.
4.$120,000 – Litchfield Land Trust, submitted by Berta Andrulis Mette, for the improvements at 28 Russell St, the original Shepaug Railroad site. There will be parking available for visitors and it will be the hub for the Greenway Trail and office space for the Audubon Society and the Litchfield Land Trust
5.$60,000 – Friends of the Litchfield Greenway, submitted by Berta Andrulis Mette. To complete the Greenway Trail from 28 Russell Street to the Ghost Trail, including the installation of a crosswalk.
6.$10,000 – The Litchfield Community Center, submitted by Berta Andrulis Mette, Executive Director. During Covid, the LCC set up a Community Essentials Funds working with Bill Davenport and Food Rescue USA to provide food and other necessities to needy families, seniors and residents. All monies raised were used for this purpose and no administrative costs were charged.
7.$35,750 - Traffic Safety Committee, submitted by Jodi Tenney, Chairman. Pedestrian Flashing Beacons, Signs for inside the Crosswalks, Wamogo Flashing Beacon and School Zone signs,
8.$60,000 – submitted by Raz Alexe, Public Works, Litchfield Storm Water Study II.
9.$35,000 – submitted by Raz Alexe, Public Works, Town Hall HVAC Replacement.
10.$250,000 - submitted by the WPCA, for a UV System Replacement at the Sewer Plant (submitted during the First Round of ARPA allocations).
11.$50,000 – submitted by Jim Amrich, American Legion, construction of ADA compliant elevator/lift and bathrooms at the American Legion Building.
12.$100,000 – Park & Rec, Town Beach (TB) Upgrades, Pavilion, Electric at TB, improved landscaping and parking at TB.
13.$ 15,000 – submitted by Kennedy Cogan, President Bantam Cinema & Arts Center, Inc. – assist with operating and utility costs to help sustain the cinema.
14.$18,000 – submitted by Corinne Houle and Terry Connor, Sandy Beach Commission, a new well for the Beach Manager’s house and beach facilities 15.$8,500 - submitted by Corinne Houle and Terry Connor, Sandy Beach Commission, removal of 11 dead ash trees.
16.$6,691.33 - submitted by Corinne Houle and Terry Connor, Sandy Beach Commission, replacement windows, trim materials and labor LITCHFIELD TOCONTRIBUTE 70% OF SANDY BEACH IMPROVEMENTS, MORRIS 30% TO COVER THE ADDITIONAL MONIES REQUEST. LITCHFIELD TOTAL: $23,233 MORRIS $9,958 ($33,191 TotalFOR Sandy Beach)
QUESTIONS ON THE BALLOT AND RESULTS – Litchfield Election NOVEMBER 8, 2022
1. “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?” Yes 2253 No 1957
2. “Shall the sale of Recreational Marijuana be allowed in the Town of Litchfield?” Yes 1864 No 2365
After almost 70 years of discussion, last June, the Towns of Litchfield, Morris, Goshen and Warren unanimously approved the creation of Regional School District#20. Currently, the 12 member Reg#20 Board of Education is working feverishly to put all the plans in place for an anticipated July 2024 opening. We look forward to this transition and the new opportunities that it will provide for our students.
DEALING WITH MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE
We continue to work on ways the Town of Litchfield can reduce the costs associated with the disposal of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), presently budgeted at $600,000 (tipping fee) per year. This issue is not unique to Litchfield and is the reason I serve as Co-Chair for the CT Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management.
The Save Money and Reduce Trash Committee (SMART) is spearheading food waste reduction and diversion education programs, along with the promotion of composting at the Litchfield Recycling Center and increased recycling. The onsite composting program is one of only nine in the state, opened in 2020. We have also initiated a Food Waste Pilot at our public schools so that our students become more involved in this important environmental initiative. I thank the school administration and especially LHS teacher Kyle Harris for their support in this work.
The 1st Annual Litchfield Earth Day Sustainable Event was held in April 2022. Several of the organizations that collaborated with the Sustainable Litchfield Committee to achieve Bronze and Silver recognition, participated and because of its success, we plan to hold a similar event this coming April 2023.
OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR VETERANS AND FIRST RESPONDERS
The Town continues its commitment to honor our Veterans and First Responders. This year we held our 2nd annual 911 Ceremony at the American Legion and Social Services organized a Veterans Appreciation Day with music provided by the 102nd Army Band and a Veterans Breakfast. I look forward to continuing these traditions to offer thanks and gratitude to those thatserved our country and continue to keep our residents safe and protected. We look forward to the monthly recognition ceremonies, ongoing fundraisers and continued work to address the needs in our community. We honor you and the Town of Litchfield will continue to support your well-being and recognition.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2023
Over the next few months, it is no surprise that we will be looking at a challenging budget year. The town is not immune to the increased costs associated with fuel, utilities, insurance, wages and materials. We will continue to explore ways to keep expenses in check and taxes as low as possible, while still providing essential services that are expected by our residents, needed by our schools and vital to running the town. I will continue to update and communicate using the Town website and newsletter (sign up if you haven’t yet), the First Selectman’s Updates during the Board of Selectmen’s meetings, Town of Litchfield CT Facebook and Instagram pages and in case of an Emergency, the Everbridge Emergency Alert System (also easy to sign up on the Town website)
I am still inspired by the employees, the residents and the volunteers that I interact with throughout the course of my daily work. You all make a difference. With your help, we will tackle any challenges that will surely face us ahead.
I look forward to spending time with each of you, supporting fundraisers, sharing the traditions, celebrations and town wide events that are back in full force and make Litchfield unique.
On a personal note, I look forward to celebrating my grandson Henry’s 1stbirthday on December 31st and the arrival of our granddaughter in February 2023. We have so much to be grateful for and I am blessed.
I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Joyous New Year2023!