First Selectman's Report - February 2, 2024

Town Staff at Norton Park February 2024

Recreation and Facility Planning Committees Formed

Last night, the Board of Selectmen voted to form two temporary committees with a goal of bringing residents together to plan for Colchester’s future. Applications are being accepted now.

The Recreation Needs & Coordination Committee will consist of five members and two alternates charged with evaluating Colchester’s current recreation assets operated by the Town and Board of Education and making recommendations on how to coordinate use and access to these resources. The committee will also identify gaps and make prioritized recommendations on how to address these gaps including consideration of turf. The Recreation Director and Public Works Director will serve as staff liaisons. There will also be liaisons from the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, and Board of Education.

The Facilities Planning Committee will consist of seven members and two alternates charged with evaluating current and near-term Town facility space needs to make recommendations regarding the following topics:

  • Future of the current Senior Center building/parcel
  • Future of the Veteran’s Room at the existing Senior Center
  • Future use of the current Youth Center building
  • Police Department renovation plans
  • Potential displacement of Recreation and Public Works Departments
  • Future location of the Food Bank
  • Use of the unfinished third floor of Town Hall

The Public Works Director will serve as staff liaison. There will also be liaisons from the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance.

Click here for an application form.

I would like to bring applicants forward to the Board of Selectmen for interviews at the first regular meeting of the Board in March.

New Tanker Ordered

Colchester Fire & EMS’ new fleet is almost complete. On Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen authorized a contract for the purchase of a new Pierce 3000 gallon tanker truck. This is the final piece of apparatus authorized under the summer 2021 fire apparatus referendum.

Delivery of the other four vehicles is already underway, but the vendor originally contracted for the tanker was unable to provide the vehicle. This created a budgetary challenge as we began looking for a replacement because prices have increased significantly since the initial orders were placed. However, Chief Steven Hoffmann and Deputy Chief Brad Bernier identified this as a potential option requiring quick action from the Board of Selectmen before this tanker was offered to other buyers.

To ensure we remain within budget, the vehicle will be delivered in its original color - red - instead of yellow like the other vehicles in the fleet. We will explore options to repaint the vehicle in the future. For now, our first priority is to get a vehicle in service. By ordering this tanker, we will ensure that Colchester Fire & EMS has a complete fleet to keep Colchester safe and remain within the budget set in 2021.

Delivery is expected in late spring/early summer.

Pierce Tanker

Norton Park Update

Last night, the Board of Selectmen awarded a contract for civil design services for Norton Park - Phase 1 to Reynolds Engineering. The contractor will prepare site development plans and construction documents for the new park located at the site of the old Norton Paper Mill in Westchester.

Today, I visited the site along with town staff including Town Planner Demian Sorrentino and Public Works Director Joe Leone to discuss phase 1 of the park and review recent progress. Public Works crews recently began clearing areas to prepare for the upcoming field survey.

Norton Park Bridge

Norton Park 2024Norton Park cleared vegetation Feb 2024

ClearGov Contract Signed

Today, I signed an agreement with ClearGov for financial transparency software. This has been a long-discussed subject and was included in this year’s budget as approved by the Board of Finance and referendum. We are aiming for a summer 2024 launch following the start of 2024-2025 fiscal year.

C3 ‘Peace at Home’

Youth Services in partnership with C3 is providing all Colchester families access to Peace at Home's online parenting portal for FREE through June 30! This website of parenting resources includes live, virtual workshops, recorded videos, and tips for parents and caregivers with children of all ages. With a wide variety of topics-infant brain development, tantrums, sleep struggles, picky eating, anxiety, vaping, dating and so much more. There is something for every parent. Use the code PeaceCT24 to set up your account today!

Peace At Home flyer

Colchester & CORE Celebrate Black History Month

All are invited to join two activities this month to celebrate Black History Month.   

 1)  The CORE Commission and the Senior Center are hosting a Community Book Club – The Sum of Us, What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGee.  Copies are available at Cragin Library or can be purchased on Amazon.  Discussion dates are:CORE Dates

2)  Starting today, the Black History Month Trivia Contest will kick off to recognize many wonderful Black artists.  Every day from Feb 2 – 23, a Black artist will be featured along with 1 trivia question.  The questions will be posted on the CORE Commission Facebook site. There will be one drawing on March 1 to win a gift card.  All participants can enter the drawing for Weeks 1, 2, or 3.  In other words, the more you enter, the more chances you can win. Details on how to submit your answers for the drawing are located on the CORE Commission Facebook site.

 We encourage you to experience the artists work as much as possible by listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie, looking at artwork, or going to an exhibit. This Trivia Contest provides the opportunity to learn something new and to have additional experiences.

We hope you enjoy the activities, and we look forward to connecting with you this month!

Colchester Alerts - Emergency Notification Program 

The Town of Colchester in partnership with the Chatham Health District has implemented a state-of-the-art emergency notification system to alert citizens about emergencies and other important community news. The emergency notification system, operated in partnership with the company Everbridge, enables Colchester Emergency Management to provide essential information quickly in a variety of situations, such as severe weather, fires, floods, unexpected road closures, or evacuation of buildings or neighborhoods.

 How Emergency Alerts Work

The process begins when the Town of Colchester issues a message about a potential safety hazard or concern. Messages will be sent to all standard voice and text communication devices, including land line phones, mobile phones, e-mail and more. If you don't confirm receipt of the message, the system will try to reach your next contact number or device you entered into the system.

NOTE: The system will continue trying to contact you until it receives a confirmation from you.

Sign Up for Emergency Alerts

Sign up for Emergency Alerts by clicking here. If you are already signed up, please make sure to update your contact information as it changes.

Bernie Dennler
First Selectman