Parked bus complaint
SHARON — School bus parking was on the agenda at the Jan. 10 Sharon Board of Selectmen’s meeting. Aside from the selectmen and their secretary, it was attended by about 26 people.School buses owned by All-Star Transportation Co. are parked on property owned by Claire and Edward Pedersen on Mitchelltown Road Extension.Prior to All-Star, buses owned by Laidlaw bus company were parked at the same location. According to First Selectman Robert Loucks, in cold weather Laidlaw kept the buses running all night in cold weather so their diesel engines would start in the mornings. That practice caused annoying noises and fumes for the neighbors.When All-Star took over the school bus contract, buses were replaced with more modern vehicles with technology that did not require leaving them running all night in cold weather. The noise, fumes and potential health risks were avoided.The Pedersens receive $12,000 a year rental income from All-Star. Claire Pedersen said her family needs that income to keep their property. “We could not meet our expenses without it,” she said.Loucks told Mrs. Pedersen, “There is nothing in the works to move the buses right now. I believe four towns in Region One park buses on private property.”Loucks reported that Sam Herrick, Region One business manager, said if those buses (for the four towns) were parked on town property, instead of rented space, $250,000 could be saved over a five-year period.The first selectman said, “If the town chooses to leave the buses there [Pedersen’s property], I’m not going to raise the fact about changing the buses right now. I don’t intend to because they are not bothering me now.” Signs have sprouted up around town saying, “No buses in the valley,” apparently meaning no buses at the town garage. No one has taken credit for posting the signs.Loucks said someone, unidentified, has raised this issue now for political reasons. He also said the town would send a letter to the Region One board informing them the town has no intention of moving the buses from their current parking location and will send a copy to the Pedersens. In other business, the selectmen voted to change the starting time of future regular selectmen’s meetings from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to give people who work an opportunity to attend.There was discussion about several roads in town needing repairs including Lovers Lane. Loucks said repairs would be undertaken when money was available. The selectmen agreed to obtain cost estimates.The selectmen approved the reappointments of William Braislin and Thomas Bartram (alternate) to the SSRRA (Salisbury Sharon Resource Recovery Authority).Loucks said the town put some cross culverts going up the hill on Herb Road last year. A request was received from town resident Jim Gillespie to hire an engineer to evaluate the project including a DEP report. According to Loucks the total cost estimate for surveys, easement agreements from adjoining land owners, permits and required newpaper advertising would be about $12,000. The first selectman said he knew there was some vicious weather this year and with the ground frozen, the town would wait until the spring to pursue the project.Selectman Meg Szalewicz said there are numerous minor grants available to towns. She suggested the town look for volunteers with grant backgrounds to assist the town in looking for grants. Loucks said Sharon’s best resource for grants is the Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments, which makes the town aware of numerous grants. He said, “We keep our eyes and ears open for grants, but sometimes this ‘free’ money ends up not being so free.”In response to a question, Ray Aakjar said work to clean up the town garage area has been going on for two years. He said some of the work included: removing 176 tires that were dumped in a swamp; removing old school playground equipment; cleaning up the old salt shed; and recycling countless old Dumpsters for other uses. Loucks said, “There has been a huge improvement in the town garage area and work will continue.”Loucks reported there has been talk of State Police Troop B in North Canaan closing. He reported from his discussion with the state police, Troop B is not closing. The only change taking place is the dispatcher function in North Canaan is moving to Litchfield, but the responding officers will remain in place.