‘The Change in Our Community’: Facing Criticism of Sewer Fee Proposal, Finance Board Postpones Vote

Russ Barksdale, president and CEO of Waveny LifeCare Network, received notification this week about $8,5000 in annual sewer usage fees that the nonprofit organization would be expected to pay for the fiscal year starting July 1. A proposal from Town Hall that’s designed to more fairly distribute sewer-related costs among residential and commercial property owners, the fee ultimately would see both for-profit and nonprofit businesses—including churches, charitable organizations and municipal buildings—taxed for water usage for the first time. 

Barksdale in addressing the Board of Finance on Tuesday night during a public hearing on the proposal said he found that his organization, which includes both the Waveny Care Center on Farm Road and The Inn on Oenoke Ridge, would be “hit more than any other nonprofit in our area, sizably more than any other nonprofit.”

“I went to then think of the pebble effect, the pebble effect that it would have for that usage fee to be placed on us as a nonprofit, to be placed upon the other churches and other nonprofits that enrich the culture of this great community that we have in New Canaan,” Barksdale said during the well-attended hearing, held at Town Hall. 

Noting that Waveny has provided some $10 million in charity care in the past two years in ways that saves government spending, Barksdale added, “We have a very fragile, very large group of seniors that come to us who cannot afford or find themselves at the end of being able to afford the highest level of care that we provide. And so I applaud our charity care to provide that. Who do we bill that usage fee to?”

Medicare and Medicaid are not options, he said, and there’s “really no place to pass that fee on to others to be able to incorporate, so we have to as a nonprofit be able to absorb that expense.”

“We would just ask that, similarly to the $15 minimum wage, that you give us an opportunity and all the nonprofits that are here the opportunity to build it within our budget. Right?

NCPD Honors Policemen, EMS Personnel Who Saved Officer’s Life; Four Clergy Members Made Police Chaplains

Since losing consciousness after going into cardiac arrest while on a treadmill at New Canaan Police Department headquarters in May, Officer Jeff Pollock said he’s had many months to reflect on how different life would have been for others close to him, had two fellow officers and four members of New Canaan Emergency Medical Services members not jumped into action. He’s thought about his parents, sisters, wife and—perhaps, most of all—young son and daughter. “What would they do without their daddy?” Pollock told more than 100 people, including his family, gathered in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School for a special NCPD ceremony. “They have such a long way to go, so much to learn, so many things to experience, so many milestones to achieve? Would they be able to do it without me?”

Thanks to six people that Pollock called “the heroes that saved my life”—Officers Rex Sprosta and Tom Callinan, and EMS volunteers Russ Kimes, Liam Bowers, Zach Harbage and Wes Yilanes—no one will have to know. 

Police Chief Leon Krolikowski presented the officers with the department’s Medical/Lifesaving Award for their swift action and presented special plaques also to the four medical services personnel in recognition of their actions.

Beef Stew for Emergency Responders in Snow Storm: A Legacy Endures at Joe’s Pizza

Lorenzo Colella awoke Tuesday morning to the same winter storm news as fellow New Canaan merchants: What had been predicted as two feet of snow would come to about half of that total. Despite the still-hazardous road conditions, the Joe’s Pizza owner decided to open at 11 a.m.

And he decided to do something else. “I just thought about these guys being out there and I figure they’re on the roads and need some food, so maybe I can help them out and give them a little extra kick in their step,” Colella told NewCanaanite.com. That kick came in the form of a beef stew, and from a recipe near and dear to the 1995 New Canaan High School graduate. With potatoes, carrots, beef, onions, cumin, rosemary, salt, pepper, thyme and brown gravy, the stew that Colella offered up to New Canaan police, firefighters, EMTs and public works crews was his mother’s.

PHOTOS: Two-Alarm Fire on Cheese Spring Road Friday Afternoon Engulfs Garage Roof [UPDATED]

Firefighters on Friday afternoon rushed to an eastern New Canaan residence to control a fire that fully engulfed the roof of a garage attached to a wood shingle home. No one was injured in the two-alarm Cheese Spring Road fire that came in at about 12:40 p.m., according to New Canaan Fire Department Assistant Chief Russ Kimes. “On arrival we found the garage roof was fully involved and our units began attacking it there,” Kimes told NewCanaanite.com from the scene at 610 Cheese Spring Road, a home set back at the end of a long driveway near the street’s intersection with Benedict Hill Road and the Wilton town line. “We were able to contain it and protect the rest of the structure.”

The homeowners were home at the time of the fire, and they exited quickly with their two children and dog, according to Fire Marshal Fred Baker. It appears to have started with fireplace ashes placed in trash cans outside the garage, according to Baker.

Letter: Vote ‘No’ on Question Three

To Editor, New Canaanite:

As a member of the Charter Revision Commission, I voted against recommending removal of the first selectman from continuation as the chairman of the Board of Finance and the elimination of the requirement that Board of Finance members be New Canaan “taxpayers”. I recommend a ‘No’ vote on question #3:

Shall the current Charter be changed so that the First Selectman, although remaining an ex-officio member of the Board of Finance, will no longer serve as Chairman of the Board of Finance, and the Board of Finance will choose its Chairman from its regular members? If the proposed change is approved, the appointed Board of Finance will be totally unaccountable to the voters of New Canaan. The present requirement that the first selectman serve as chairman of the Board of Finance without vote except in the case of a tie, originated in the 1935 Charter of the town of New Canaan. The argument that after 80 years of fiscally responsible government there is now a need for an additional check to balance the power of the Board of Selectmen evidences a misunderstanding of the responsibilities of the town’s governing bodies.