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River access plans will honor Fred Ruggles

NORTH CANAAN — In tribute to long-time resident and noted hydrologist Fred Ruggles Jr., the Board of Selectmen agreed to name the proposed Housatonic River boating access point Ruggles Landing, an action taken at the regular meeting on Monday, April 5, by Zoom.

Following the decision, the selectmen will ask the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to name the proposed site for the veteran of World War II, who died in 2013 at the age of 90. 

Since moving to North Canaan in 1980, he had been an active member of the Housatonic River Commission and served as well on the town’s  Inland Wetlands Commission. With 40 years of experience as a hydrologist for the U.S. Geologic Survey, his devotion to the town and the river was deserving of the honor.

In making the naming proposal, Selectman Christian Allyn said that the choice was “near and dear to my heart,” adding that Ruggles was not a town native, but he became a native.

An operations plan for the landing site is drafted and ready for DEEP consideration. Allyn said that the plan is still fluid and open to DEEP input. One question to be answered is whether the river access is wide enough at the site to serve fire department rescue boats.

Selectman Craig Whiting spoke from a fire department perspective and said the town does not have a rescue boat, but in connection with the proposed access, the town might want to invest in water rescue training and equipment. Allyn suggested that the town might also add rapid water rescue training to any plan.

River access would provide boating and fishing opportunities along the 5-mile stretch north of the Falls Village dam. In that stretch, the river is tranquil flat-water, ideal for paddling trips and drifting downstream in a boat, canoe or kayak. The calm water is also good for fishing.  

Plans to be coordinated with the DEEP would involve removal of the existing structure on the property, some grading and brush removal at the access point, and installation of gates and fencing, all within the purview of various DEEP departments. The commercially zoned property is on Route 41 and was formerly home to a Masonic lodge.

The 2021-22 budget planning process is progressing, with the Board of Finance expected to meet on Wednesday, April 14, to approve the draft of the town budget. At that point a schedule for public input will be set, including a public hearing and a Zoom meeting.

First Selectman Charles Perotti reminded residents who wish to provide comments on any aspects of the budget to attend the remote budget workshops.

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