South Park Avenue Property Discussions

Citizens for Easton made a presentation to the board in support of naming the town-owned property on South Park Avenue in honor of former First Selectman Bill Kupinse. Kupinse was a strong advocate for the preservation and protection of property as open space, particularly the South Park Avenue property. He passed away earlier this year.

Aspetuck Land Trust has applied for a state grant to help with the purchase of about 17 acres of the parcel closest to the Mill River. Citizens for Easton would like the town to retain the remaining approximately 12 acres as open space and name it the “William J. Kupinse Jr Memorial Park.”

The board suggested that Citizens for Easton should also approach Aspetuck Land Trust about naming the park even though the sale of the land has not yet been finalized. The future use of the remaining portion of the property is still undetermined. The Board of Selectmen South Park Advisory Committee is finalizing its report following about 18 months of review and consideration of potential uses for the land.

The board also discussed the proposed South Park Avenue Farming Lease for a hemp pilot program. Representatives of Easton Grows, the applicants, and the town’s Agricultural Commission said they are working to resolve the lease terms and agreements but expect to have the work done within several days. They are optimistic the project can still proceed this year.

Improvements at HKMS

The selectmen reviewed a proposal from the Easton PTO to install an overhead shade for the outdoor classroom at Helen Keller Middle School. Use of the outdoor space has increased over the past year but it has also highlighted the need for shade in the area.

Easton PTO and the Easton Learning Foundation both pledged funds to help cover the cost, with the remaining funds coming from grants through the school district. The total cost for the project is $22,500.

The selectmen agreed the project would bring an added benefit to the school and referred the matter to the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration.

Affordable Housing Plan Grant Application

The board approved an authorizing resolution for the application for a state grant for the creation of an affordable housing plan. State mandate requires the town to develop an affordable housing plan by June 2022.

The grant would be used to offset or cover the costs associated with preparing the plan. The town can apply for and receive up to $15,000. The grants are specifically for small communities, administered through the state Department of Housing.

Removal of Debris

The board awarded the contract for the removal of logs, stumps and brush to The Good Earth Tree Care in the amount of $45,000 as recommended by the director of public works.

The debris has accumulated over the years as a result of the removal of hazardous ash trees from town property and clean up from storms. Some of the cost, associated with removal of debris from Tropical Storm Isaias, can be submitted for federal emergency management funds.

Additional Items

The board accepted John Harris’ resignation from the Zoning Board of Appeals and thanked him for his long service to the town. Harris served on ZBA for 28 years, more than 15 of those years as chairman.

The board discussed a possible date and topics for a Special Town Meeting this fall. The plan is to hold the meeting in September. Topics to be included on the agenda include: funding for the Sport Hill Road pathway; Ethics Ordinance revisions; new Land Use Ordinance; discontinuance of Old Burr Highway; ordinance to allow tax-exempt status to the cost of making vehicles handicap accessible; ordinance to establish demolition delay for historic properties. Discussions about dates and topics will continue.

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By Kristi Sogofsky

Kristi currently serves on the Board of Selectmen. She also volunteers her time with several youth and community groups. Kristi worked in local broadcast journalism for 20 years as an anchor and reporter.