Easton is in the COVID orange zone with a rate of 14.2/100,000 for the week ending April 2. That is undoubtedly an underestimate given the amount of home testing. We needed to restrict activities in the senior center this week as a result. State hospitalizations and test positivity rates are increasing as well. As of now, there are no policy changes but we are monitoring the situation closely.
Today, the Selectmen set the agenda for the Annual Town Meeting to be held on Monday, April 25. The town budget will be presented by the Board of Finance. Presentations will also be made by the Easton and Region 9 Boards of Education. The overall budget reflects a 1.02% increase inclusive of the two board of education budgets. In addition to the budget, there will be the new demolition delay ordinance, and an amendment to allow the library board to have two alternate positions, as most boards and commissions already have.
There are also some items usually considered as “housekeeping” which include the acceptance of a gift of land, setting the 2021 grand list bill dates and approval of the 5-year capital plan which is a broad outline of capital the town will be requesting over the next five years. Lastly, we will vote to approve the sale of roughly 19 acres of land at 18-22 South Park Avenue to the Aspetuck Land Trust for $470,000. In keeping with my policy of not expressing opinions on potentially political issues [in weekly updates], I will lay out my reasons for why it is essential that this sale be approved in an [op-ed] article in the Easton Courier. I have already done so in the Courier previously, but I will be reiterating my reasoning shortly.
In Easton, the town meeting is the legislative body of the town. It is governed by Chapter 90 of the Connecticut general statutes. https://www.cga.ct.gov/current/pub/chap_090.htm. In the past, these had become raucous meetings where the meeting became a free for all with votes being carried out or delayed based on how people on each side of an argument could call their supporters to rush over for a vote. Since becoming First Selectman, I have tried to make these meetings both orderly and fair. Agendas have been set and issues which were at all contentious have been put to a town vote by machine, this way the process is truly democratic. The Selectmen have shown a willingness to put questions proposed by different groups in town to the people for a vote. Recent examples include the land use and ethics ordinances. People may always petition for a special town meeting to consider proposals put to the town directly, as specified by the statute. Any attempt to return to the unproductive and, frankly, undemocratic ways of the past would be a step backwards.
Easton’s Here to Help (EHTH) has launched, and had their first meeting on April 7 via zoom. EHTH is the town’s Local Prevention Council, a coalition dedicated to decreasing substance misuse and mental health disorders among our youth and families. It is made up of community stakeholders, and the co-chairs are Sarah Lehberger and Alison Witherbee who is the Social Services director for the town. Please visit the website https://www.eastonsheretohelp.org/ for more information.
Many people in the north part of town have seen big increases in their homeowner’s insurance due to perceived difficulties in providing fire services to their houses. This has been a chronic issue due to the distance of our firehouse from certain properties. You may recall that we have engaged a consultant to review our emergency services in town. One of their primary functions is how to solve this problem. They believe that they can help the town with this by providing solutions for how we can change the way homes in the north end are “rated” which ultimately will reduce insurance costs. The consultants are currently collecting data and plan to be on scene in Easton in May.
The EMS building committee held their first meeting this week, and the affordable housing committee continues their work and will report to the selectmen at a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 19.
Friends of the Union Cemetery Association of Easton, a volunteer Cemetery Corporation, is requesting your help in reaching the following goals: (1) Locate family and friends of the deceased that are currently interned there. If you have information regarding this, please contact Bruce Laskay at 203-264-9408 or Bob Laskay at 203-268-9716. (2) Re-establish the Board of Directors as outlined in the by-laws. (3) A grounds maintenance work party is scheduled for Saturday, May 7 at 9:00 a.m. Rain date: Sunday, May 8 at 9:00 am. If it rains both days, please refer to Easton Courier for new dates. This work party is in addition to the work that the Boy Scouts have already completed. Please bring your own tools; lawn mowers, grass trimmers, rakes, brush shears, etc. We thank you for your help!
I would like to make a correction to my post on March 18. The Planning and Zoning Commission meetings will be held in the Library Community Room and broadcast over zoom beginning in May not April.
Please note that town offices will be closed on Friday, April 15 in observance of Good Friday.
Thanks to all those who showed up to clean up South Park. It was a tremendous effort and much appreciated!
Enjoy your weekend,