Town officials on Tuesday approved an approximately $46,000 contract with a Stratford-based company to replace parts of a sidewalk on Maple Street across from New Canaan Library. The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously in favor of the $45,908 contract with Dalling Construction.
Some of the sidewalks on Maple Street between Main Street and South Avenue “are not part of the library construction project but should be done,” according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “They have not been done since the Center School parking lot was installed,” Mann told the selectmen during their regular meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference. “It’s a concrete sidewalk with an asphalt overlay. So the library has to take care of the north side of Maple Street and a portion of the south side of Maple Street around the Center parking lot entranceway.
The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday voted unanimously in favor of hiring a former local news editor to fill the new full-time town position of grant writer. Greg Reilly had worked from 2013 to 2018 as a reporter and editor with two newspapers owned by Hearst Connecticut Media/HAN Network, including the New Canaan Advertiser. “There are a lot of grants out there that we have not applied for that we are eligible for,” the town’s human resources director, Cheryl Pickering Jones, told the selectmen during their regular meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “And so we are hoping with Greg’s assistance that we will be able to open up some of those doors and apply for some of those grants.”
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the hiring. Reilly said he’s been working full-time for the town of Stratford as a grant writer with “good success.”
“I think the short story is that we have learned here that the skills of a journalist apply very nicely to those needed for grant-writing,” Reilly, a Stratford resident, said via Zoom.
Nearly five years after New Canaan’s highest elected official did away with the municipal Utilities Commission by declining to appoint new members, some town officials are calling for its reinstitution.
In December 2017, one month after winning the first selectman race by 33 votes, Kevin Moynihan said that he wished to dissolve the Utilities Commission while redistributing some of its responsibilities—such as cell coverage, natural gas and solar energy.
Tom Tesluk, then-chair of the Utilities Commission, had resigned the day after Moynihan narrowly defeated Kit Devereaux. And though Devereaux, who went on to serve as a selectman, argued in favor of preserving the Commission, the volunteer body’s last meeting agenda was posted in December 2018.
During the Board of Selectmen’s Sept. 20 meeting, Selectman Nick Williams said, “We had talked about repurposing or getting back to a Utilities Commission at some point and I bring that up in the context of the cell phone towers because I think that’s an issue that a robust Utilities Commission could tackle and Lord knows in this town we’ve got experts all over the place that could help out with something like that.”
His comments came during a portion the meeting dedicated to general matters before the town. Moynihan responded that he had attended all meetings of the Utilities Commission for four years while serving on the Town Council “to bird dog cell service.”
This exchange followed:
Moynihan: And Tom Tesluk resigned the day after the election. Williams: So we just gave up?
Though New Canaan’s highest-elected official has charted a course for approving a cell tower behind West School, it’s unclear whether his colleagues on the Board of Selectmen will approve a lease to make the new infrastructure possible. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan at the Board’s Sept. 6 meeting called for the Planning & Zoning Commission to decide between a tower 1,000 feet behind the Ponus Ridge school and another, taller one further out. Yet at the Board’s Sept. 20 meeting, Selectmen Nick Williams and Kathleen Corbet did not commit—and in some cases, raised questions about—the prospect of approving a lease with the cellular infrastructure firm proposing a 125-foot “monopine” tower for West School.
“Why would we be pushing stuff to Planning and Zoning and to the Town Council and other public bodies when we as a group have not gone on record as for or against?” Williams said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
He added, “To be clear: There is going to be no cell phone tower put up anywhere unless we approve it as a Board of Selectmen.”
The discussion came during a section of the meeting where the selectmen weigh in on general matters before the town.
Saying the new position would pay for itself, municipal officials on Tuesday approved a job for a grant writer for the town. Connecticut municipalities such as Stamford, Stratford, Bristol, Norwalk, Westport, Berlin and Fairfield already have grant writers on staff, according to New Canaan Human Resources Director Cheryl Pickering Jones.
“We had received information for different towns that are receiving state grants and we have many communities that are getting grants that we are not receiving,” Pickering Jones told the Board of Selectmen during its regular meeting, held atTown Hall and via videoconference.
“We do not have the staff on board to apply for a lot of these grants, whether it be public works, first responders, health and human services, and I think the town would do well to have a full-time grant writer.”
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted in favor of creating the new position.
Pickering Jones said the town has drafted a job description.
Williams said, “This position should pay for itself and then some if we are doing this right.”
Moynihan said some towns have more than one grant writer.
Corbet noted that the town recently received notification that other towns had received a Small Town Economic Assistance Program or “STEAP” grant from the state, though New Canaan did not. “I wonder if we would maybe consider starting with a part-time position rather than a full-time position, and then possibly going to two part-time positions,” Corbet said. “I think that enables you to sort of start up the grant writing process and then once it’s underway you can have two people working and it also saves benefits. Just something to consider.”
This exchange followed:
Moynihan: I think we can always back off if we don’t see candidates for full-time that are desirable.