Selectmen agree on composting grant but clash on Troop B comments
SALISBURY — The Board of Selectmen approved a resolution seeking a grant for a feasibility study of a regional composting facility in Litchfield County during the regular monthly board meeting Thursday, Feb. 2.First Selectman Curtis Rand said the Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments (COG) had asked member towns to approve a resolution authorizing the COG to seek a grant to look at the possibility of a regional composting facility.The COG is an organization of the first selectmen of nine Litchfield County towns, including all six towns in the Region One School District. Rand said if Salisbury could “get food waste out of our trash stream,” savings would be significant.“How absurd is it to haul watermelon rinds or corn cobs to Hartford and then pay to have them burned?” he asked rhetorically.Selectman Jim Dresser asked if there would be any cost to the town. Rand replied in the negative, and the motion carried.Rand also said that the town’s application for a transportation grant — handled through the COG — was submitted by the Feb. 1 deadline. If approved, the $850,000 state grant would be split between Salisbury ($450,000) and Washington, Conn. ($350,000). Rand also reported that a plan for changes regarding improvements to Academy Street is currently undergoing an engineering evaluation; that the committee of Salisbury and Falls Village residents charged with improving the one-lane Amesville bridge across the Housatonic River between the two towns is evaluating engineering firms, a preliminary step; and that the Transfer Station Building Committee, another two-town group (Salisbury and Sharon) is also looking at engineering companies.Rand asked that Bob Greene be appointed to the town’s bridge committee, and Dresser and Selectman Mark Lauretano agreed.Dispute over Troop B plansThe selectmen clashed at one point in the meeting, when Lauretano reported on his meetings with state Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-30), Department of Public Safety Commissioner Reuben Bradford and State Police Col. Danny Stebbins last month about Lauretano’s concerns about the consolidation of dispatching from Troop B in North Canaan to Troop L in Litchfield.Lauretano said Roraback has initiated an inquiry and is “asking all the right questions.”He called aspects of the consolidation plan “irresponsible” — the lack of a written plan, engineering designs or cost analysis.“Until I see a complete plan I remain opposed” to the dispatching consolidation.Dresser objected to Lauretano’s remarks, saying it was the third meeting at which Luaretano has “made a speech” on the subject.“This is neither a debating society nor a pulpit,” Dresser said, adding that agenda items for the board are either for action or future action.Dresser said he would not vote to approve any future agendas with this topic, and suggested Lauretano attend a seminar on the rights and responsibilities of selectmen, as he and Rand did when first elected.The two went back and forth inconclusively for a few more moments until Rand called a halt.Rand read a concise message from Salisbury Resident State Trooper Chris Sorrell: “If you see something, say something,” reminding residents to call 911 for emergencies, and the trooper’s Town Hall number (860-435-2938) or Troop B (860-824-2500) for non-emergencies.During the first public comment period toward the beginning of the meeting, the question was raised of perhaps expanding the number of selectmen in the event of serious differences between members. Len Stewart said the idea was briefly considered, he thought in the early 1980s, and rejected by a bipartisan committee, mostly on grounds of population.And in the second comments period, Judi Gott thanked the town crew for removing downed trees and otherwise fixing up the Rail Trail, which she said was important for those living east of town who like to walk to the village but try to avoid Route 44.Gott also noted, gratefully, the early morning state police presence on the stretch of Route 44 entering town from the east, and its salutary, calming effect on through traffic.Ethics code idea returnsThe selectmen resumed an ongoing discussion of a code of ethics and the possibility of establishing a regional board to hear ethics complaints through the COG. “You can shake your head all you want to in the audience,” said Rand, apparently addressing someone in the back.Rand said the COG had that morning discussed the idea of a regional ethics board and what the first selectmen of the towns all wanted to know about was liability.“Our attorney said as public officials there are certain protections, and there’s less to worry about because an ethics board wouldn’t be deciding punishments, just making recommendations.”All three selectmen will be attending a Connecticut Conference of Municipalities workshop on ethics codes later this month.