Board of Selectmen Meeting of November 19, 2020

Notes from the Board of Easton Selectmen’s Meeting
November 19, 2020

The Board of Selectmen held its second regular meeting in November with all members of the board present in person. The board approved the minutes of the Nov. 5 meeting and approved two tax refunds as recommended by the tax collector. These are routine agenda items.

Public Comment

Three members of the public offered comments. The first speaker asked if there is a town-sponsored welcome committee, whether town board and commission Zoom meetings will soon be posted online and whether they could be put on Channel 79, whether Easton 175 information could be put on Channel 79, pointed out that a change in the membership of Agriculture Commission would require a change in the ordinance, wonders if we know where the Covid 19 increase in town comes from, and finally asks that the town reinstitute the practice of sending postcards to advertise that a town meeting will be held.

The second speaker offered two thoughts. First, she is excited about the formation of the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and applauds the board for forming the body and the members of the body for their service. Second, she thinks the Park and Recreation Department does a top-notch job of maintaining the fields, they are easy to work with, and get the job done on time. Therefore, she urges the town to be very thoughtful before possibly removing the field maintenance function from Park and Rec.

The last speaker said she is happy we established the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force but is sorry it has gotten off to a rocky start. She hopes it will work out.

Agriculture Commission

The board discussed attendance issues on the Agriculture Commission with Jean Steltz-Puchalski, the chair. She suggested a change in the membership structure of the commission. However, this would require a change in the ordinance which, in turn, requires town meeting approval. It was suggested that, perhaps through informal discussions, members and alternates might agree to switch roles and that this might address the problem.

She will pursue that option for the time being since a change in the ordinance cannot occur anytime soon due to the Covid-19 restrictions on holding a town meeting. Steltz-Puchalski also sought the board’s guidance on how to change the farmer who holds the lease on the town farm project on the Morehouse Road property. That farmer is unable to meet the terms of the lease, but the lease still has several years to run. Since there is another farmer ready, willing and able to assume the lease, the board recommended that the assignment or sublease provisions of the current lease could be used to avoid a default or the need to re-bid the lease. This would also allow a new farmer to begin work without disrupting the planting schedule.

Reservoir Diversion

The first selectman presented a letter from Rob Maquat, the chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, recommending that the town retain the services of a Drinking Water and Reservoir Management/Urban Water Management expert to advise and advocate on behalf of the town concerning the plan by Aquarion Water Company to divert water from Easton to lower Fairfield County. The letter also recommends that the board meet with other regional local officials to assess the impact of the Aquarion proposal on all regional partners. The final recommendation is for the board to meet with the Connecticut Water Planning Council to discuss the Aquarion proposal.

Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force

The board accepted the resignations of Vivian Hardison and June Logie from the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and Ray Longo from the Cemetery Committee. The board also discussed the need to have two people who have been voted onto the Board of Ethics be sworn in so the board can tend to some pending business. One of the unsworn members is likely no longer eligible to serve due to an appointment to another town board and so a replacement will be needed. The other unsworn member has not responded, as yet, to efforts by the town to advise him of his status and requests that he contact the town clerk about getting sworn in.

Driveway Permit Problem

The board discussed with Ed Nagy, director of Public Works, a problem he has had with P & S Paving, Inc. which has done business in town without securing driveway permits in advance, without providing proof of insurance, and not constructing driveways in accordance with town requirements. Several suggestions were made and the first selectman will meet with Nagy to draft a letter to be sent to the company and the three impacted property owners.

Covid-19 Update

The first selectman provided an update on Covid-19. Easton, like most of Connecticut, is now in the red zone. Most of Easton’s uptick in cases appears to be driven by younger people and a very small number of group events in town. We are in compliance with all red zone state rules. The first selectman explained that wastewater has been found to be a good predictor of Covid-19 cases. A study of wastewater in Bridgeport suggests there will soon be a more than 30% increase in cases in the area.

The board members expressed their wishes that everyone has a safe, smart Thanksgiving. Let’s work hard to mask up, socially distance and wash hands so the Covid-19 situation does not get even worse than it already has as weather forces everyone indoors where the virus can more readily spread.

‘Light Up Easton’

Selectwoman Sogofsky explained that the Parent Teacher Organization, in conjunction with Easton 175, is sponsoring a program called “Light Up Easton.” The idea is to have everyone decorate their homes, have the houses located on a downloadable map, and then have townspeople visit the homes to see the decorations. Prizes will also be awarded. Selectman Lessler said that long and short sleeve shirt sales with the Easton 175 logo should be available for purchase on the Easton175.com website next week.

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