Innovative Ideas for Managing Local Government - 2023

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Innovative Ideas for Managing Local Government 2023 Connecticut Town & City Compendium

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President, Thomas Dunn, Mayor of Wolcott

1st Vice President, Laura Hoydick, Mayor of Stratford

2nd Vice President, Michael Passero, Mayor of New London


Jason Bowsza, First Selectman of East Windsor

Jeff Caggiano, Mayor of Bristol

Mary Calorio, Town Manager of Killingly

Fred Camillo, First Selectman of Greenwich

Elinor Carbone, Mayor of Torrington

Paula Cofrancesco, First Selectman of Bethany

Justin Elicker, Mayor of New Haven

John A. Elsesser, Town Manager of Coventry

Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., First Selectman of Old Saybrook

Laura Francis, First Selectman of Durham

Joseph P. Ganim, Mayor of Bridgeport

Matthew Hoey, First Selectman of Guilford

Matthew S. Knickerbocker, Town Administrator of Wilton

Rudolph P. Marconi, First Selectman of Ridgefield

W. Kurt Miller, Chief Fiscal Officer of Ansonia

Edmond V. Mone, First Selectman of Thomaston

Maureen Nicholson, First Selectman of Pomfret

Michael Rell, Mayor of Wethersfield

Brandon Robertson, Town Manager of Avon

John L. Salomone, City Manager of Norwich

Caroline Simmons, Mayor of Stamford

Gerard Smith, First Selectman of Beacon Falls

Erin E. Stewart, Mayor of New Britain

Mark B. Walter, Town Administrator of Columbia


Luke Bronin, Mayor of Hartford

Michael Freda, First Selectman of North Haven

Neil O’Leary, Mayor of Waterbury

Herbert Rosenthal, Former First Selectman of Newtown


Deputy Director, Ron Thomas

Managing Editor, Kevin Maloney

Layout & Design, Matthew Ford Writer, Christopher Gilson

We are pleased to present Innovative Ideas for Managing Local Government. It’s our 36th annual compilation of great ideas from around the state that will help municipal leaders run local governments more effectively, efficiently, and equitably. These ideas save taxpayers money, while also providing municipal services that enhance community life.

The ideas are reprinted from Connecticut Town & City, the quarterly magazine of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Connecticut Town & City developed these stories from many sources, including visits to Connecticut local governments; suggestions from municipal officials; newspapers and magazines in Connecticut and other states; publications of the National League of Cities; and publications of other state municipal leagues. We would be happy to hear from readers about any ideas we should publish in the future.

Happy Reading!

INNOVATIVE IDEAS 2023 | CONNECTICUT TOWN & CITY | Connecticut Town & City © 2023 Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Innovative Ideas in... BOARD OF DIRECTORS Civic Amenities 4 Economic Development 12 Education 20 Energy 24 Environment 31 Governance 38 Housing & Infrastructure 43 Public Safety 49 Social Welfare 57 Technology 65
Executive Director, Joe DeLong


A Bridge To Remember

West Haven connects beaches and helps flooding issue in one project

Of all of Connecticut’s coastline, no municipality has nearly as much public beach space as West Haven. Home to the longest stretch of publicly accessible sandy shores in Connecticut, residents and visitors can take in the sun all summer. Now, thanks to a renovated bridge, they can enjoy a better scenic walk from the Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary to South Street Beach.

Replacing a concrete footbridge that was nearly 100 years old, a new prefabricated aluminum bridge will now Connecticut the two parts of the beach without having to go to the street-facing sidewalk. It will be the first time in over 20 years that pedestrians will be able to cross the Cove River.

No ordinary bridge, this bridge mimics the nearby Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in its ability to light up with a full spectrum of colors. During the ribbon cutting ceremony, the LEDs illuminated

in red and white – with a special shoutout to Mayor Nancy Rossi’s favorite color purple.

The project was paid for with a $3.9 million state grant, and involved the Frankson Fence Co. of North Haven, the GatorBridge of Sanford, Florida, and Apex Lighting Solutions of Wethersfield.

“It is our residents who never lose their commitment and passion for West Haven,” State Representative Dorinda Borer said in a press release.

“From the day this project was announced, the excitement never wavered. This project is a win-win on so many levels. It provides for functionality of water flow, accessibility, connectivity, a complement to our aesthetics and is very environmentally focused.”

In addition to its functionality, it also serves to beautify an area that was deteriorating from multiple storms and other issues with the flood gates. Newer, enhanced flood

gates that are future parts of this project will help safekeep investments that are prone to flooding like the playing fields at West Haven High School that had seen damage after Superstorm Sandy. And importantly, the bridge connects the Charlotte Bacon “Where Angels Play” playground at Sea Bluff Beach to the Vietnam Memorial on the Savin Rock side. Each of the playgrounds from the Where Angels Play foundation memorializes a student or teacher that was slain at the Sandy Hook School in a town that was affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The beach is a crucial part of West Haven’s story. People go there to have fun and play during the summer, to get in exercise, and to remember. In the same way that this bridge will connect the two sides of the beach, it will connect the past and the future and the many residents together to enjoy this natural resource.


A Work Of Art

Mansfield looks to invest in enrichment of public spaces

One of the greatest outcomes of the Works Progress Administration, or WPA as it is more widely known, is the art that sprung up throughout the States. Today, the American Rescue Plan Act is helping continue that tradition with public art being an approved expense.

The Town of Mansfield is just one such town that is taking advantage of this provision. Throughout the month of March, the Mansfield Town Council was accepting proposals for permanent or rotating art in “several key public areas,” such as the town hall and community center.

In the request for concepts, the town says that “public art contributes significantly to the vitality of the community, and that vibrancy is what many potential residents and businesses are looking for when they decide where to locate.”

And this is borne out by previous works like the Martin Luther King Jr. mural at the community center and the “Weaving Shuttle” sculpture on Betsy Paterson Square. In order to be a successful piece of art, the town created a list of suggestions that say the art should: create a focal point of excitement, appeal to a diverse audience, be sustainable to withstand New England elements, and be accessible.

Artists who feel they had a piece that fit those criteria put those into a proposal. The top three concepts

would be vetted by the town and $1,000 give to each to further develop their concepts into a “specific proposal.” Per the request for concepts, only once these proposals are reviewed will artists be chosen and contracts developed for production of the art and compensation.

The concepts and proposals will be vetted by the Town’s Arts Advisory Committee who already advice the Town Council and Manager on issues related to the arts.

One of the other suggestions for the art proposals was that it should “be able to stand the test of time i.e., it should not be synonymous with a particular era or time period.”

Interestingly, WPA projects, despite the vast array of styles and projects undertaken during this time, are almost all closely synonymous with the era. Whether it was a local artist painting a mural in the post office or Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange taking photos across the landscape, the WPA provided us with plenty of art to beautify and remark on our country.

The American Rescue Plan Act might be doing the same before our eyes without us realizing it. If the Town of Mansfield is successful in choosing pieces that are original and engaging, that stand the test of time, in 100 years, another generation might remark upon a piece in Mansfield Town Hall and say, “Look at that, it’s an ARPA artwork.”


Rocking In The Free World

Westport Library Studio might be one of a kind in the US

Who knew that a library could rock so hard? In Westport you can enter Verso Studios, which they have billed as the “only public library to ever record, produce, and release a vinyl record.” And over the course of several days, things might get loud when they hold their annual Verso Fest to celebrate all things rock.

Verso Studios, part of the Westport Library is a full tilt recording studio with all the bells and whistles a musician could want. Designed by Rob Fraboni who had built Bob Dylan’s home Shangri La Studios in the 1970s and run by the sound engineer from the Space Ballroom, Travis Bell, it houses unique audio components, including the “Rolls Royce of studio consoles.”

With Moogs, Fender Stratocasters, and a Gretsch 5-piece drum kit, things could get pretty loud – so much so that recording drums is only allowed after hours. Which is probably best for the readers in other areas of the library.

To properly celebrate, they started Verso Fest in 2022, and this year’s lineup is looking pretty incredible.

Kicking off the first day is Brooklyn-based Sunflower Bean, who has shared the stage with legendary artists like Beck, Interpol, and Pixies.

Friday will see the Smithereens, fronted by Marshall Crenshaw, who has filled in for the late Pat Dinizio, to run through their hits like “A Girl Like You.”

And finally, on Saturday April 1, two legends in their own rights – producer Steve Lillywhite who has recorded with the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, U2, Dave Matthews Band and Chris Frantz of the Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club – will be in conversation as they “share some stories from the past on April Fool’s Day.”

The recording studio is open to anyone at $120 an hour or $900 for a day, while library cardholders get a discounted rate at $70 an hour or $550 for a full date. They also rent out a “library of things” to go along with your rock record – including a button maker to sell at a merch table.

In the growing definition of what a library could be, a rock studio seemed the least likely. It seems more likely a librarian will be telling you to shush than to crank up an amp. But Verso Studios and the yearly Verso Fest show that there’s a time and place for everything. For more information on the fest or the studios, you can visit:

The Smithereens, Amilia K Spicer, DJ Miriam Linna Sunflower Bean

This Old House (Needs Work)

Bridgeport couple benefits from grant to restore antique homes

Connecticut has a long history with a lot of old homes. And with this stock of old, historic homes comes great responsibility. Maintenance and upkeep, restoration and renovation are more precarious on antique homes than most modern homes, and many homeowners might need some relief. That’s where the Edward F. Gerber Urban Preservation Fund steps in, with it’s 2022 grant awarded to a Bridgeport couple. Founded and supported by the organization Historic New England, the Edward F. Gerber Urban Preservation fund grants an annual award of up to $10,000 to an “owner-occupant of a residential property with no more than four units located in Bridgeport, Hartford, Manchester, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Stamford, Waterbury, or West Haven.”

This year’s grant was given to Mary Allison Waggener, who is renovating Greynook, a home that was built in 1895 near Seaside Park. In the ensuing 10-plus decades, many of the original features of the house have begun to fail or deteriorate.

Waggener plans to use the grant to “fund repair of the elaborate cast iron porch railings and wood porch doors, both of which are integral components of the house’s prominent street-facing elevation.”

This is a key feature of the grant, which states that the “Projects must enhance publicly visible, character-defining exterior features of the property.”

In addition, they must preserve, rehabilitate or restore these features rather than simply replace them. In some cases, the funds can be used to remove old renovations that used non-period accurate features such as vinyl siding. Only $2,500 of the grant are available for architectural or engineering services.

Helping homeowners with these costs will help them avoid making improvements that actually take away from the historical property rather than add. Modern alternative storm windows that can be made to look period accurate are more expensive than the new counterparts, but might ruin the aesthetic of that old Victorian or Colonial home down the street.

The 2023 Grant Deadline will be announced in the spring.

For organizations, Historic New England also awards grants to small to medium-sized heritage organizations in each state. The Connecticut recipient this year was the Mattatuck Museum, which digitized interviews from the African American Oral History Project, which document the experiences of African Americans in Waterbury in the early-to-mid-twentieth century, according to their website.

Preservation can be a costly thing. But in many instances, preserving a historic Connecticut home is worth the cost. Finding opportunities for residents in these homes can be well worth the time invested.



A Mural Worth 1000 Words

Norwich beautifies area with inspiring mural

In troubled times, America has a great history for looking to the arts. A frayed flag still standing inspired the poem that became our national anthem. During the depression, photographers like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange captured the heartbeat of a nation. Today, giant murals like the one that was just unveiled at Jubilee Park in Norwich are inspiring us to look both backwards and forwards.

Over the course of a month, the town fundraised on Patronicity, and supported by SustainableCT to help put up a new mural in the prominent Jubilee Park. Disused for many years, this art is the first step in transforming what was a blighted parking lot into a beautified space.

As important as simply having art in a public space is –it’s probably more important that the mural be of value to the area. And the two individuals who are featured in the artwork are historically prominent Norwich residents.

James Lindsay Smith was a formerly enslaved person who escaped his bondage in Virginia in 1838 and made his way up north to settle in Norwich. Sarah Harris Fayerweather was the first student at Prudence Crandall’s school in Canterbury, which is in and of itself a major milestone in education as the first school for black girls in the United States.

Both were able to overcome obstacles and succeed in Norwich – Smith as a successful businessman and Fayerweather as an activist and abolitionist. Unfortunately, given the time period, there were no suitable photos to work from. Models were used for both subjects, but in an inspiring twist of fate, the model for Fayerweather is a direct descendent. The period pieces were provided by the Cromwell Historical Society.

The mural was unveiled in June of this year, and is just the first part of a larger project to reinvigorate the area. Some of which will be studied by the Yale Design Group to help best optimize the space for future public use.

The hope is that the space will inspire the same kind of awe that public works of art have across the years. And due to the large size of the mural, it will be hard for many who pass this location not to feel a well of emotion.

Whether it is a poem or a photograph, or now a mural on the side of the building – there is a power that only art has to inspire. With these towering figures from the past echoing out their stories of resilience into the future, Norwich residents can look to the future and feel they too can accomplish great things.


Fine Dining

New Haven makes outdoor dining permanent

Some might say it was bound to happen in a city like New Haven. After COVID social distancing broke down the walls of outdoor dining, it was going to a facet of life in the Elm City. But thanks to a demand that might be unexpected – and weather that is unprecedented – outdoor dining will become a permanent fixture for some restaurants.

The announcement came during a early spring burst of warmer than normal temperatures. Mayor Elicker took to Salsa on Grand Ave. to announce that the city was extending the outdoor patio season from the old May 1 start date to April 1.

In New Haven, this makes sense to take advantage of not just the beautiful weather, but also the many events in town that take

place in April. For one, there is the yearly Wooster Square Cherry Blossom festival that brings hundreds of people down to the city. And also, one of the two yearly Restaurant Weeks takes place in April. Giving restaurants those extra four weeks of patio time will certainly give a boost to the restaurants in the downtown areas. But some businesses will be able to apply for year-round permits for their outdoor dining set-ups.

This came after an outpouring of support for a few local businesses that had left up their patios throughout winter – perhaps not realizing that their permits had lapsed in November.

Recognizing the demand for certain locations to have year-round

options, New Haven is now allowing restaurants the chance to apply for a year-round permit – which would obviously need to meet requirements set up by the city that would help with pesky issues like snow. But when the weather is nice, like it is in Connecticut from April to November when it starts to get a little bit on the chilly side, no one wants to think about snow or freezing temperatures. They want to think about getting out onto the streets to go explore, take in a walk, and hopefully grab a bite to eat in one of New Haven’s many fine dining establishments. Thanks to the city and the many supporters of these great restaurants, they can get some sun while they’re getting some food.


Discount Prescription Drug Card Program

• Many CT residents face the challenge of high cost prescriptions. Through the CCM Prescription Discount Card Program, municipalities are now providing prescription savings to their residents who are without health insurance or a traditional pharmacy benefit plan, or have prescriptions not covered by insurance.

• This program is no cost to CCM-member municipalities and no cost to taxpayers. There are no limits on the use of the card – no income limits, no age requirements. Even some pet prescriptions are covered for medications that also treat a human condition.

• Average savings for CT residents has been 50%, with some participating towns and cities showing an average of 70% savings.

• Cards are mailed to residents and can also be accessed electronically through the website. These cards are automatically activated and can be used immediately at any participating pharmacy.

• The CCM Discount Card program offers real value, easy access, a large national pharmacy network and excellent customer support.

• Program start-up is easy and municipal promotion and administration is simple.

• Program marketing materials are provided at no cost to the town/city offices.

If your municipality is not part of the CCM prescription discount program service and you would like more information, please contact Alison Geisler, at 203-498-3029, or

The Prescription Discount Card Program Is Saving Residents In Participating CCM-Member Towns And Cities Millions Of Dollars In Prescription Costs.


The State of State Street

New Haven will dramatically change major street to add infrastructure

In order to add to infrastructure, the common sense is to add more infrastructure. More roads, more bridges, more stuff. But that does have its drawbacks. Roads can get confusing, more bridges need more repairs, which is more overall cost. Sometimes the best route is actually addition by subtraction – what can you get rid of that will overall improve the quality of life for our residents. In New Haven, they had a pretty shocking suggestion.

State Street, one of the most historic thru-ways in New Haven, has long been a major vessel for cars and pedestrians, connecting neighborhoods and districts. New Haven city planners faced no easy task when they were charged with reimagining what that city street could look like in the 21st century.

Among New Haven’s widest streets, it is 6 lanes wide at the largest point, which seems natural for a car-first society. But as the Elm City push-

es for more and more pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation infrastructure, that capacity seems more ostentatious than stately.

So they decided to think outside the box – or perhaps in this case, square – and suggest what might be called addition by subtraction. What could New Haven do if they cut State Street in half?

For one, they can beef up that pedestrian infrastructure that they’ve focused on in other areas of the city, still connecting neighborhoods together, but more safely for those not in a vehicle. They could connect that infrastructure even further by extending the bike lanes to the Farmington Canal Trail that ends in Massachusetts.

In the New Haven Independent, City Engineer Giovanni Zinn said that the new setup “creates a special public space reminiscent of some of the promenades you see in Europe around the city streets.”

Additional infrastructure will of course go up around this newly rethought promenade. They believe that up to 450 housing units and 20,000 square feet of commercial space will become available per the Independents article.

In a community walk-through, Zinn, as well as Alders and community members envisioned what was possible with the area, and suggestions included recreational spaces or a picnic area, or simply a sculpture garden.

Unlike Model City-era urban renewal that subtracted by subtraction in favor of a car-centric vision, this new era seeks to undo the mistakes of the past and renew what was once renewed. In a place with centuries of history, the first planned city in the world by some accounts, New Haven can strikingly move into the future with its vision for a more people-centric city. Even if that means getting rid of spaces for cars.



ECONOMIC Across State Lines?

Learn more at:

Regionalism could take on new meaning in Danbury

How often do you hear this one in the pages of CT&C – two towns agreeing to a mutual agreement so they can come to some savings or economic development. How often is that with a town across state lines? Danbury just entered into a rare interstate agreement that could mean benefits for both Connecticut and New York.

From a Patch article on the proposed agreement, Putnam Country Executive Mary Ellen Odell has been in talks with the City of Danbury to utilize the sewage treatment plant for a stretch of their Route 6 corridor.

According to the article, this particular area has sought development for many years, but the road borders a protected NYC reservoir.

“The Letter of Intent, signed by Danbury Mayor Esposito on Tuesday, broadly outlines the project in which a sewer line would connect 3.5 miles of commercially zoned land along the Route 6 corridor in the Town of Southeast to the City of Danbury’s sewage treatment plant.”

This treatment plant is in fact the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant that became an internet sensation in 2020.

There were some concerns in the Hat City that helping their neighbors to the west would ultimately be a detriment to Danbury. But regionalism is far more nuanced than that. Of course, more businesses might open on the New York side, but as Vincent Tamagna, Project Manager for the project is quoted in the Patch

article – “It’s not like anyone will be building a large mall to compete with Danbury.”

In fact, growth on the other side of the state line could in the long run create more opportunities for housing, according to Tamagna. More housing in the greater Danbury Region, could mean more people coming over to Connecticut to shop at the mall or in our shops. What remains to be seen is how this plan will work out. Although the letter of intent was signed, New York

officials still need to study the impact and develop a project, while in Danbury it needs the official ok from the City Council.

With nearly 30 towns and cities, or just over 15% of our towns bordering another state, is there room to imagine partnerships that benefit CT towns and cities that involve Massachusetts or Rhode Island too? For Danbury, even if all the economic development doesn’t happen on the CT side, it was an opportunity they didn’t want to let go to waste.

The Economic Development section of CT&C is sponsored by New Haven Terminal, Inc.
The Development is by Haven more

Taking A Stroll Downtown

Connecticut Main Street Center highlights Torrington Center

Did you know that Torrington, Connecticut has one of the largest collections of Art Deco buildings in the country? The Connecticut Main Street Center gave a tour of historic Main Street in town to put a “Spotlight on Main Street” in April.

Now nearly thirty years ago, Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) was founded by the Connecticut Light & Power Company, a unique proposition by a privately held company. According to the CMSC website, to this day, CL&P “remains the only private corporation in the country to solely sponsor and administer a statewide Main Street initiative.”

In the intervening three decades, CMSC became a private nonprofit and has worked closely with the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development to foster the kind of investment in main streets that you see in Downtown Torrington.

The “Spotlight on Mainstreet” event is aimed at downtown economic development professionals and municipal leaders from across the state to come look at what a thriving, historic, and walkable district looks like.

Starting with a networking event held in the Warner Theater, a great example of the renovated Art Deco buildings, guests proceed to get a walking tour of the

area followed by a reception at a downtown restaurant. During the event, the hosting city “shares how they addressed local obstacles and achieved success in their downtown through collaboration, economic, and community development.” Intended to highlight successes in public/private partnerships, businesses, and local officials.

The event is co-sponsored by the Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) and presented by the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital.

Our Main Streets have never been a more important asset. As CMSC argues, Main Streets are vital to a thriving Connecticut, both socially and economically. Continuing, “Not only are they the heartbeat of our communities – providing interesting dynamic spaces for friends, neighbors and colleagues to interact with each other – but they also provide a far greater return on investment than typical big-box development, with studies showing that money spent downtown stays downtown.”

Taking a tour through historic Torrington’s downtown is proof positive of this concept. With it’s theaters and hotels, restaurants and shops, it’s a thriving area that deserves the spotlight.



Economic Development On The Tracks

Windsor Locks sees new train station as hot bed of activity

As Connecticut continues to invest in public transportation, towns and cities will have many more opportunities for economic development than it had in years. With a new train station being built in Windsor Locks after decades of discussions, the area is poised to become a hotbed of investment. This past September, Governor Lamont, Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe Giuletti, Amtrak Assistant Vice President of Infrastructure Access and Investment Tom Moritz, Windsor Locks First Selectman Paul Harrington and others broke ground on the new train station, located in the downtown area nearby the old train station. As part of a transit-oriented development area, it will provide easy access from Bradley International Airport to the Hartford Line and from there much of Connecticut.

Investments in infrastructure are not made without any return on investment. It goes without saying that a train station without any purpose at all is not worth building. So why build this train station, and why in Windsor Locks?

“We continuously hear from businesses, both large and small, and residents that they want to be near public transportation that provide convenient options for travel,” Governor Lamont said in a press release.

“This new station is going to be a real driver of economic activity in Windsor Locks. In fact, when developers were looking to renovate the old Montgomery

Mill down the road, they knew their investment was going to be worthwhile because of our plans to create this new train station just a short distance away.”

At a time when many towns and cities are looking at infrastructure because of the funds associated with the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA), plans for developments can and must include economic development.

Even before the ground was broke on the train station, before there were IIJA funds, before even COVID hit, Windsor Locks began planning for economic development around a train station that didn’t exist yet.

According to a Hartford Business Journal from May of 2020, projects around the Hartford Line – which runs from New Haven to Springfield, Mass. – have included 1,400 residential units and 242,000 square feet of commercial and office space.

If Connecticut towns and cities are going to continue to see this kind of outside investment, the projects they are working on must invite that economic development. The virtuous cycle of transit-oriented development – infrastructure brings housing brings people brings economic development resulting in the need for more infrastructure – doesn’t just happen on its own. It must be intentional. With this new train station, Windsor Locks can be on the precipice of a new cycle of economic development, you just have to catch it before it leaves the station.

Reconstruct route 159 from bridge street to the station • 1.5 Miles reconstruction of amtrak main line • Reconstruction of a freight interlocking • Relocate existing station to downtown • Bus connections to bradley airport • Construct a new maintenance of way (mow) yard at the former station site

Team Work Makes The Dream Work

Bolton, Coventry, Mansfield, and Tolland work together for common goal

Economic development is not usually a team sport. Regionalism is seen as a solution for purchasing or services, not for marketing and tourism. But the Towns of Bolton, Coventry, Mansfield and Tolland are looking to change that. They’ve come together on a project to create a tourism brand for their region that will help foster economic vitality in their area.

The four towns have collectively hired Dornenburg Kallenbach Advertising (DKA) to help them develop a new regional brand, according to a press release. They have additionally worked with AdvanceCT and the CT Department of Community and Economic Development on a previous plan in 2020 called “An Action Plan for Economic Vitality.”

That initial plan is the seed of these efforts. Two years ago, they argued in the Action Plan that regional economic efforts are becoming more popular because the towns could pool resources and play off each of their unique strengths, and ultimately and importantly, create opportunities for larger-scale impact.

The plan had recommendations on appealing to visitors when it came to dining, shopping, recreation, entertainment, and agri-tourism.

But equally as crucial to this plan was to not lose sight of the individual areas or towns.

“This new collective brand for the region as a destination will be a supplement to each individual Town’s marketing, and will not replace each individual Town’s logo or branding.”

It also noted that higher education institutions might be an attraction. Almost all Connecticut residents are aware that the nationally renowned University of Connecticut is located in Storrs, but do they know that is only a census-designated place that exists wholly in Mansfield?

Already a major tourism driver – especially for folks who like Women’s Basketball – there’s plenty of opportunity to draw tourists throughout the region instead of concentrating it all on the few square miles of UConn’s campus.

This past October, the towns embarked on the first step in their collective branding by reaching out to the community.

While those results have not been made public yet, it’s great to see these four towns working collectively on a project that could increase job and economic development for all.

A rising tide lifts all boats is certainly an aphorism that has been used to describe regional projects before, and it’s true here, too. But economic development can work on a multi-town basis. Like UConn’s celebrated basketball teams, you can’t just have one person on the court and expect to win championships. You have to have a good team and a good plan. Bolton, Coventry, Mansfield, and Tolland have shown their teamwork, now its up to them to make a good plan.



Nothing but Strikes

Pitch Contest in Meriden nets one business a big prize

Anyone who is looking to start a business has that elevator pitch in mind – that two-minute spiel about why they are the best person to provide some need in town. But how often do these prospective business-owners get a chance to make their pitch? In Meriden, they were given that chance at the end of June for a pitch competition and networking event with cash prizes of $1,000 to $5,000 on the line.

Held in partnership with the city, the Midstate Chamber of Commerce and the Meriden Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO), local entrepreneurs were able to meet up and discuss their plans for their dream business with others small business owners, learn about resources that were available to them and present to the crowd.

After a short application process, individuals were selected to be one of five presenters. According to the application form, “startup businesses eligible to participate are those in the initial stages of formation or operations and seeking capital. Business must be formed in CT through the Secretary of State between May 20, 2019 and May 20, 2022 and must not have had gross revenues greater than $1 million in any rolling 12-month period since formation.”

From the Meriden Record Journal, it was announced that the winner of the pitch contest was Traffic Advertising Network, which assists other companies in promoting their product or service with mobile billboards.

Quoted in the article, business owner Ronald Harris said that “It gave [him] a chance to prove to [his] kids that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

The article said that Tarmara Ketchian, owner and founder of Wildwood Granola, took the second place prize of $3,000. Georgio Favia,

Jr., owner of ObsElite Performance, received $1,000 for third place.

Some of the funds for this program came from CTNext, which offers direct funding assistance to small businesses as well as mentorship programs that pair those new to business-ownership with more established owners in order to foster the growing innovative business culture in our state.

Many times we make a pitch for businesses to come to Connecticut, and while that is fine and good, our state has a long tradition of homegrown innovation that we need to build up. With the Pitch Contest, Meriden and its partners are creating that environment where folks with good ideas can get that much needed seed money, because you never know who is going to hit a home run.

Wildwood Granola took the second place prize of $3,000.


Renting Out A Dream

New Milford program lets entrepeneurs try out brick and mortar

While inflation hitting food and energy prices might be noticeable on a weekly or even daily basis. Underappreciated is the effect that it has on rent, which can stretch those wallets thin month after month for the length of a lease. For small businesses in particular, New Milford has a plan to allow them to get their feet under them before making a long-term commitment called Pop-Up NM.

For many business-owners, or for those just starting their first business, the cost and fees associated with a brick and mortar space can be prohibitive. But for towns and cities, having empty storefronts is not ideal either. Pop-up NM takes care of two birds with one stone.

With seed money of $25,000, and hopes to get more grant and foundational money into the program, New Milford is looking for small businesses with less than five employees to take on brick and mortar spaces for as little as a month at a time.

According to a write-up of the program in the News Times, their ideal participant is someone who has already started their small business online and are looking to make that transition into an actual storefront. Although the fees associated with the program have not been finalized, figures between $2,200 and

$2,800 are cited as manageable for business-owners who might have a leg up from their online shops.

Another way that these shops can already have a leg up is by already owning a successful store. Owners looking for a second location in New Milford could utilize a pop-up space to see if the area is the right fit for them.

But not everyone has a business up and ready to go. With additional funds from outside the town’s economic development corporation, they want to eventually look into mentorship program that will help prospective business owners learn the ropes of small-business ownership.

And unlike signing a lease for a year, the risk is low enough that if you find that the brick and mortar lifestyle is not for you, then you aren’t locked into it.

It’s hard enough as it is to start a business. Add the pandemic and inflation to the mix and it could be a recipe for disaster. But with programs like Pop-Up NM, local business owners have a chance to make it before they make any big leaps. And as with any great program, perhaps one day down the road they’ll put themselves out of business with every storefront in New Milford filled.



Guilford enhances visuals with new signage

Consider this a sign – the Economic Development Commission in Guilford has been on a multi-year project to decrease the visual clutter that exists on corners throughout the state.

Begun in 2021, Guilford began installing new “Welcome to Guilford” signs along 95 off-ramps. Originally proposed in 2015 or 2016, the signs are an effort to de-clutter signage, while boosting interest in economic development and tourism. Signs informed individuals driving into or through town of the historic districts, directions to the Town Green and more.

By the next year, signs were completed with help from the Guilford Preservation Alliance, local organizations including the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, town officials on the Economic Development Commission, and even private individuals.

In a zip06 article celebrating the completion of the first phase of signage, First Selectman Matt Hoey said “This project couldn’t happen at a better time, with our full rebound from the pandemic underway and Guilford regaining its full vitality as a great place to live and visit.

This project fills the need to welcome travelers and introduce them to Guilford and its incredible array of historic places, and it couldn’t happen at a better time.

The same articles notes that John Miller and his firm Autografix manufactured the signs, and John Cunningham designed the hardscaping to minimize maintenance. Barronlee Grasso coordinated the hardscaping and Todd Ingarra from the Connecticut Department of Transportation all donated time and effort.

The project was so successful that the work continued on other areas. Many of the old cluttered directional signs that look like they were out of a Walker Evan’s photograph are now replaced with the same simple iconography. Multiple confusing placards are now replaced with a single sign – except in places marking route numbers.

What we need is less distractions on the road. In Guilford, these efforts they hope will pay off in increased tourism and economic development as people experience the calming and attractive waymarks about town.


Ivy League To Main Street

East Lyme looks once again to Yale Urban Design Workshop

CT&C is well aware of the value a main street provides its town. They are crucial centers of public gathering, economic development, and civic amenities. East Lyme is looking to an old partner in the Yale Urban Design Workshop in order to reinvigorate this crucial nexus of municipal life.

Founded 30 years ago at the Yale School of Architecture, the Yale Urban Design Workshop is a mostly student run design center that focuses on creating or fostering a sense of community in towns and cities. Their clients over the past three decades have reached as far as Jordan, Sweden and China, while the bulk of projects have been much closer to home.

East Lyme is no stranger to the Workshop. The Yale group has worked on projects in 1997 and 1998. The first on a general strategy that included the formation of

the Niantic Main Street group, and two other mural projects. This time around, the group was hired as part of a larger downtown revitalization efforts.

From an article in the Day, it was the Niantic Main Street group that decided to bring the Yale group back to help with the revitalization. For several months, representatives from Yale have been working on background research as well as engaging in talks with those who live and work in the area, per the Day article.

Two of the big decisions they will have to make moving forward is what to do about the old police station and the recently shuttered Niantic Cinemas, which have closed after seven decades in business.

The police station is a big concern for the town simply because the property has too many issues to

simply be reused. Mold, asbestos and lead paint make the costs overwhelming, as noted by First Selectman Kevin Seery. It is currently owned by Dominion Energy, but they are holding off on moving forward until the completion of the work.

The work is still in its early stages, and work will be ongoing throughout the spring, according to the Day. Their previous projects in East Lyme and around the state have shown successful, so many will be waiting with baited breath to see the path forward for their main street revitalization.

Only time will be able to tell if the work is going to be successful. But given the Yale Urban Design Workshop’s track record of success in Connecticut and in the world, this will certainly be a project worth remembering.


(Don’t) Quit Playing Games

Esports is the next big thing at Hartford Public Schools

The television show of the year is The Last of Us. Don’t be surprised if the Mario movie stays in theaters all summer. Nearly 50 years after the invention of the first video games, they are entering the mainstream in a way they’ve never done before. And they’re entering our schools as well with the launch of Scholastic Esports in Hartford Public Schools (HPS).

As part of the growing emphasis on Science Technology Engineering and Math curriculum, also known as STEM, it was only a matter of time before video games found their way in. But it’s not likely that you’ll get to play Pong, Tetris, Super Mario Bros., or GoldenEye for class credit. They give four examples of possible courses: Gaming Concepts Fundamentals: students will explore esports history, technology, and troubleshooting techniques. The curriculum will have a technology focus.

Exploring Interactive Media: a project-based course about digital graphics, print media, computer animation, audio production, web design, and more. Students will learn how to facilitate meetings, serve as team leaders, manage project timelines, and produce professional projects.

Streaming and Shoutcasting: similar to a traditional public speaking course. Students will initiative and participate in collaborative discussions, utilize digital media in presentations and more. They will learn the fundamentals of broadcast journalism and public speaking through the lens of a shoutcaster, which is a fast-growing career field. The skills learned in this course align with the arts, A/V technology and communications. Lessons include story writing and interviewing, media’s influence on society, and producing a broadcast.

Cybersecurity in Esports: students will focus on the fundamentals of cybersecurity including ethics and laws, hacking, ransomware, malware, digital citizenship, and more.

HPS has partnered with Nintendo to secure Switches, their newest gaming platform.

According to a release from Hartford Public Schools, “Scholastic Esports refers to competitive gaming that takes place within an educational context, with the goal of promoting teamwork, critical thinking, and

strategic problem-solving skills.”

Esports, they note, is a fast-growing industry. Over 200 colleges and universities have gotten into gaming by offering scholarships for esports programs.

“Scholastic Esports aligns with our district’s academic curriculum to support the whole student for success in college, career, and beyond,” said Dr. Joanna Ali, STEM Director at Hartford Public Schools. “We are not just playing games. esports is a vehicle that can move the curriculum forward. It’s a well-rounded, structured program that supports students academically and socially through teamwork and collaborative experiences. We’ve heard our students loud and clear, and they are eager for opportunities that bring their outside interests into the classroom. And we plan to deliver.”

EDUCATION The Education section of CT&C is sponsored by
Great Path Academy student and STEM Director Joanna Ali explore the Scholastic Esports lessons.

Safe To Be You

Hartford Schools adopt gender non-conforming policy to ensure safety

Post-Covid it became clear that things were going to be very different for everyone, but in particular the pandemic hit children very hard. It upended how they learn, how they socialize, and for many there have been disastrous results. This hit particularly hard for LGBTQIA+ students. Hartford Public Schools have instituted a new set of guidelines to help students feel comfortable at school, setting them up to succeed.

The policy which is particularly directed at transgender students is general enough to cover any gender dysphoria. The stated purpose is to “set out guidelines for schools and District staff to address the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming students and clarifies how state law should be implemented in situations where questions may arise about how to protect the legal rights or safety of such students.”

It cautions that it cannot cover every situation that might occur and that things might have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but “in all cases, the goal is to ensure the safety, comfort, and healthy development of the transgender or gender non-conforming student while maximizing the student’s social integration and minimizing stigmatization of the student.”

It is both federal and state policy that all programs, activities and employment practices be free from discrimination, but that has not prevented this from being a hot button issue across the nation.

Concerns about students sharing restroom and locker room access has been extremely sensitive. The Hartford Public School asserts that while “students shall have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity,” locker room usage will still be considered case-by-case.

In terms of competitive sports, the conversation is a bit more difficult because students from Connecticut do compete nationally, and while there are policies against discrimination, competitive athletics at all levels are still grappling with how best to handle with allowance.

The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education has already issued guidance on transgender and gender non-conforming youth. They say, “there is evidence that a school’s failure to recognize and support a child’s gender identity or expression can result in significant harm to the child.”

Continuing that “Schools need to provide a safe, supportive and non-discriminatory environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students.”

It was clear that COVID was severely impacting the mental health of all students, including stressful living situations, online bullying, or lack of outlets. Hartford’s Board of Education has now taken steps to ensure that students have basic protections of who they are and who they know themselves to be.


Leaders of Tomorrow

Windham / Willimantic create learning space at summer camp

While children and parents around the state begin to prepare for the upcoming school year, it’s easy to forget that the summer is still a time where learning can happen. Students might not learn algebra, but they might learn camping basics, or a new sport. In Windham, students who participated in one particular training learned the value of leadership.

Held in partnership between the Willimantic Police Department and the Windham Partnership to Reduce the Influence of Drugs for Everyone (PRIDE) Coalition, middle school and high school students were invited to participate in the Windham Youth Leadership Summit.

From their website:

• The purpose of this Academy is to provide leadership training, life skills, personal development, team building challenges, public service opportunities, and interaction with community leaders and motivational speakers.

• The curriculum will include classroom presentations, community service, guest speakers, trips to the State Capitol, and the National Guard’s Leadership Course and team building activities.

• This course is designed for students entering grades 9 through students entering grade 12. Course hours will be from 8:am to 3:pm daily. Graduation will be on Friday, July 15th from 6:pm-8:pm.

• There is no cost for this course. Lunch is provided FREE of charge, every day.

Kids participated in activities supported by members of the community, the police force, and town leaders. In one activity, members of the Willimantic Fire Department and Police Department paired with the kids in the classic egg drop competition where through teamwork and brainstorming, teams must build a contraption that will protect a raw egg when dropped. And at the end of the academy week, three dozen participants graduated from the 2022 Youth Leadership Academy. In addition to the dozens of children and families, a special ceremony was held at the new senior center hall with the Mayor Tom Devivo, Chairperson Dawn Nile, and several other town leaders. One special announcement was that graduates of this program are now eligible for a new scholarship program for past students who are entering into higher education or any EMT program.

It’s an important reminder that learning doesn’t have to stop at the end of the school year. Every community in every municipality in every state in this country needs people with good leadership skills, that know how to work best together and foster a positive working environment for all. Thanks to the Willimantic Police Department and Windham PRIDE, there are a few more leaders out there, three dozen to be exact.



All Day, Every Day

Waterbury adds 24/7 tutoring for students after pandemic learning gap

The pandemic is something we’re going to be talking about for a while. The effects are still ongoing, of course, but the after effects will continue to be felt in many areas. Education for instance has been impacted in ways that are still being realized. Waterbury Public Schools have partnered with Varsity Tutors to help give students a helping hand after several tough years.

All over Connecticut, students have fallen back in several key areas. According to the Department of Education, students in Grades 4 and 8 have seen declining scores in math and reading when compared to 2019. This is not just a Connecticut problem. Looking at 8th grade scores across the nation, only 10 states or territories saw scores remain the same from 2019, with the remaining 43 states or territories declining when it comes to reading. In Math the situation was direr – only two areas saw no change with 51 States or territories declining.

Recognizing this problem, Waterbury took the initiative to become more accessible to students. With 24/7 tutoring for students, any time a question arises, they can work with someone who will give them answers. That problem is multi-faceted and there are many areas of concern.

Part of the problem is the nationwide teacher shortage. Speaking with WTNH, Brian Galvin of Varsity

Tutors said that they have seen a growing trend of limited teacher interactions. With so many students per class, giving children the attention they need gets harder.

Another side is increased tardiness. Schools around the country have seen unexcused absences increase. Many towns and cities have focused attention on getting children back into the classroom, but both of these areas of concern speak to one primary issue: if a child has a question and there’s no one there to answer it, a teaching moment is lost.

With access 24/7, no student is left behind. They can contact a tutor with Varsity Tutors and work together on an issue. And it lessens the burden on the teachers who may be overwhelmed with demand and can’t offer that one-on-one learning experience that a child might need.

The final wedge of the past three years has been the digital divide. As our state has invested more and more in the infrastructure, breaking down the wall to better quality, lower cost access to high-speed internet, we can begin to focus on areas of importance.

Waterbury has asked itself what its children need and is meeting them where they are. Putting children first is always a great idea.


Turn A New Leaf

With the opening of the Hotel Marcel on New Haven’s Long Wharf, it’s become apparent that projects big and small can be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. But what about an entire city? According to the National League of Cities, hundreds of municipalities around the country are setting those targets.

To help foster progress the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has come up with the Local Energy Action Framework (LEAF) in collaboration with several local governments around the country. Adapted from an NLC Citiespeak Blog Post by Peyton Siler Jones, here are four things City Leaders need to know about LEAF to reach their energy efficiency goals.

Prioritizing energy efficiency improvements in facilities with the highest electricity demands leads to more energy savings.

According to RMI and their partner cities, they’ve found that water and wastewater facilities can account for up to 70 percent of a municipality’s electricity usage. In some cases, focusing on the largest demands can see savings that outstrip any costs required to make the improvements in the first place.

1. Electrifying heating and vehicle fleets can significantly decrease carbon emissions but will increase building load (excluding water facilities) by 5-17 percent annually. While electric vehicles, or EVs, are clearly part of the wave of the future, they can have an impact on a buildings electric usage. So just because you install charging stations at town hall or in a

municipal parking garage, in order to truly reach decarbonization goals, the local grid itself must be decarbonized. The same goes for electric heating, especially in colder climates.

2. To move toward 24x7 clean electricity, flexible loads and batteries can help shift demand to hours of the day with lower electricity usage or when more renewable energy will be available. According to RMI, their partner cities find that between 60 and 80 percent of their electricity consumption happens between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. due to conditions like water treatment plants and overnight lights. Using batteries to shift the loads to optimize charging and deploying of electrical needs is one solution.

3. Municipalities can purchase off-site renewable energy, especially non-solar resources, to fill the remaining gap.

4. It’s extremely likely that most municipalities cannot place or retrofit enough solar to adequately supply their municipal buildings with clean electric. There are other options like wind power and geothermal that can help fill gaps. Connecticut will likely benefit from several planned windfarms in the coming years off the coast.

Lofty goals require high-minded actions. For municipalities that are looking for guidance on moving to 100 percent renewable energy or carbon-neutral municipal grids, visit the RMI website to see the LEAF guidelines: Local Energy Action Framework (LEAF)

Four things every municipality needs to know

Parking Solar Panels Over Parking Lots

West Hartford Clean Energy Commission talks benefits of canopy solar

Despite the media attention – including in the pages of CT&C – alternative forms of energy are still making headway into our electric grids. California, the leader in solar energy production, produces just 16% of their energy from solar. Connecticut is much smaller than California, though, leaving less space to put up the vast arrays needed. In West Hartford, they are getting creative about where they can put the panels.

This past March, Bernie Pelletier, Chairman of the West Hartford Clean Energy Commission and of People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE) gave a presentation about solar canopies – like those that are placed over parking lots and carports.

Some of the benefits are obvious – producing solar energy is a no brainer in 2023. But there is a less obvious benefit to these arrays that requires outside the box thinking.

California has two things that allow it to generate the amount of solar it does. One is sunshine, but the other is open space to place the arrays. From a study cited by a Yale Environment 360 blog, over 50% of solar is placed in deserts, 33% in croplands, and 10% in grasslands or forests. And just 2.5% of U.S. solar power comes from urban areas.

According to that blog, “undeveloped land is a rapidly dwindling resource.” Parking lots on the other hand are an abundant resource of land that has been “stripped of much of its biological value.”

Of particular interest in West Hartford was “63 parking lots and other ‘degraded’ sites (land not suitable for agriculture or other productive land use) for solar canopies.”

There are costs associated with canopy-style arrays, of course including installing them in the first place. But there are even more benefits than the two mentioned at first glance. In addition to electricity generation on sites that would otherwise not be productive, but as we move to electrify our vehicles, it would be an obvious way to charge them while we shop or park. Even less obvious, it would protect cars from the elements – and on super-hot days it would prevent cars from being overheated, requiring them to use more energy to cool the car down.

Connecticut as a whole ranks 13th in the nation for carbon intensity from electricity generation according to the Washington Post. With 57% from natural gas and 38% from nuclear. Because we are so developed, there are few places left we can put in solar arrays. It’s time to start thinking outside the field.


Everything’s Gone Green

Kent wants residents to help build the future of energy

Everything’s gone green – solar panels, heat pumps, wind farms, and more will all be a major part of our future. And with energy costs exploding, renewable resources that are cost-effective will only benefit Connecticut residents. But it’s precisely those residents you need to get on board. Recently the Kent Conservation Committee prepared a report to tell a story of a green future.

And of course, the story of our future starts with where we are now. Per the commission, the town currently “spends $15.2 million each year on energy, or $5,435 per resident; has roughly 53 residential solar installations with a total capacity of 0.4 megawatts (MW), providing 1.7% of the town’s electricity usage; has 29 electric vehicles (EVs) or 0.9% of vehicles in town; and has 11 heat pumps, representing 0.7% of buildings in town.”

With the except of that last statistic which is likely to be underreported at this point, the numbers paint the story of a slow start to adopt new technologies. But Kent wants to get to 100% of energy coming from clean, renewable sources.

Their estimates say that they would use “54% less energy; produce 40% of its energy needs locally, with the remainder coming from regional sources; and over

time, spend 26% less on energy and create local jobs, keep energy expenditures and ownership local, while enhancing resiliency and improving air quality.”

While most towns have plans for going green, Kent has received some help from the People’s Action for Clean Energy or PACE organization.

Founded in 1973, around the time that concerns about the environment were first going mainstream, their mission is to “transition Connecticut to clean energy through grassroots education and advocacy.”

One of their projects might sound familiar – the PACE 100PercentCT Project helps individual towns and cities come up with “local, viable plans” to transition to a new energy economy dominated by these renewable resources.

Their Path to 100 Handbook includes resources from around the country, and even provides a nifty guide on how many of their suggestions align with SustainableCT’s certification program.

Residents must be on board in order for these plans to succeed. But given the rapid rise in energy costs, and the prices of green energies coming down, individuals may look to renewable resources not out of concern for the planet, but concern for their savings. Kent took that important first step to sell these ideas to their residents.


Breaking Physics

New boiler technology in Simsbury development saves energy, money

If you remember your high school physics class, the law of conservation of energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed. If not, you might remember that if you leave the door open in winter, precious heat goes right outside. But what if there was a way to harness that lost energy? A new development in Simsbury has partnered with Enviro Power to do just that.

The new Simsbury Center Apartments utilized the SmartWatt Boiler technology developed by the locally-based Enviro Power that incorporates a “mini power plant” that can result in savings for the development.

According to a release from Enviro, the SmartWatt is able to “generate clean energy at 98 percent efficiency (HHV)” which is “an important aspect of the owner’s vision to design a building that would minimize environmental impact.

While it might seem farfetched to harness a power plant inside a boiler, but other heating methods have begun to utilize advanced technologies to draw either energy or heat from the least likely sources.

Heat Pumps, geothermal, solar energy aren’t exactly new technologies, but they’ve been getting smaller and smaller – able to offer them to home markets.

Enviro says that the “boiler significantly reduces fuel-intake and carbon footprint while providing onsite, reliable power and improving grid resiliency.”

Continuing that “It is one of just a few commercialized hardware energy technologies ready for production and deployment.”

“We are striving to accelerate the decarbonization of buildings by making it affordable and easy for owners to replace their existing heating systems with an advanced electricity-generating solution,” said Dan Nadav, CEO of Enviro Power. “The SmartWatt Boiler is priced, installed, and maintained at similar costs of a regular heating system, and replaces existing boilers with no additional infrastructure investments necessary.”

Recently, this technology achieved “two major milestones” – Intertek ETL certification of the SmartWatt Boiler and the start of serial production with its strategic partner Burnham Holdings, one of the largest boiler manufacturers in the US.

The technology will be coupled with other common-sense measures like modern lighting, window and insulation solutions that will save residents on energy costs not only immediately, but over time as well. There aren’t many new developments in the energy field that haven’t been around for some time, so when a new product comes around that can break one of the rules of physics, you want to tell people. Ok, it doesn’t really break the rules of physics, but this homegrown technology could save a lot of folks a lot of money.


It’s Electric – Zoning Laws That Is

New zoning law requires ev charging spaces

Introduced as a “landmark” law, Public Act 22-25 introduces new measure to reduce greenhouse gases specifically from transportation sources. New regulations mean a lot of things for this state, and especially for municipalities. While towns and cities around the state have already began their foray into electric school buses, there will be an increased pressure to modernize the energy grid to support electric vehicle charging spaces in many new buildings.

The law, which was signed by Governor Lamont in May of this year, stipulates that “on and after January 1, 2023, a municipality shall require each new construction of a commercial building or multiunit residential building with thirty or more designated parking spaces for cars or light duty trucks to include electric vehicle charging infrastructure that is capable of supporting level two electric vehicle charging stations or direct current fast charging stations in at least ten per cent of such parking spaces.”

This simple change will ultimately completely change the parking landscape in the state of Connecticut, while creating the incentive for more drivers than ever to switch to electric vehicles. This number was already growing with just over 4,000 registered in 2019, and over 25,000 registered in 2022.

Some municipalities had gotten ahead of this law by placing regulations on electric vehicle charging spaces.

Back in 2018, Middletown had adopted a regulation where projects that require 25 or more parking spaces will need at least one charging station, or three for every 100 parking spaces. Two years later, Hartford adopted similar measures for “Residential and Lodging Uses, Government/Higher Education/Hospital Uses, Police/Fire, Schools, Employment Uses, Parking as a Principal Use, and Industrial Uses with 35 or more parking spaces.”

The state now requires at minimum, seven more charging spaces per 100 parking spots over those requirements, but they expect some municipalities will want to go further than that:

“A municipality may, through its legislative body, require any such commercial building or multiunit residential building to include such electric vehicle charging infrastructure in more than ten per cent of such parking spaces.”

These requirements are going to become more commonplace as the state and country build out an infrastructure that prioritizes clean energy vehicles over the traditional internal combustion engine. Though it feels like we’ve relied upon them for so long, gas-powered engines have been around for just over 130 years. Towns and cities will need to accommodate this changing landscape which will now include changing the way parking lots are built.


Energized Learning Experience

Hamden adds new HVAC with student help

At CCM, we’ve advocated for replacing HVAC systems in our public schools because of the important function they serve. Children simply learn better in healthier environments. But HVAC replacements have benefits anywhere they can be upgraded, including benefits to energy savings. Hamden was just able to secure funding for new HVAC units that will save them money long term.

In a program that combines education and energy, the town Engineering Department partnered with two interns from Hamden High School’s HECA Program (Hamden Engineering Careers Academy), Alexi Clouse and Ishnan Khan to draft the existing condition and start the design process, according to a press release from the town.

From that release, they say that HVAC units at the Town of Hamden Government Center are at the end of their operational lifespan of 20 years, and would need to be replaced.

Fortunately, in the time since they were last installed, the technology has improved to the point that they expect that “upgrading will result in approximately 25 percent energy savings, or a reduction in carbon emissions of at least 10 tons per year.”

Just to put that in perspective, that is $250 dollars in savings for every $1000 that would have previously been spent.

They will also be upgrading the exterior of the building, which they say will add to the energy savings. With the help of Congresswoman Rosa Delauro the town was about to secure $425,000 in federal funds for the project.

“It takes a great team of brilliant people to make a project come together,” Hamden Engineering Careers Academy Program Student Alexi Clouse said. “HECA greatly helped me improve my skills and allowed me to be successful during my internship. I am glad to have experience working on real world problems,” said Hamden Engineering Careers Academy Program Student Ishnan Khan said, “I believe everyone needs to follow the path that leads to their passions, no matter how challenging or unique. Both HECA and this apprenticeship prepared me for the real world and inspired me to continue on my own journey. Truly grateful for this opportunity to serve my town.”

There will be obvious benefits to replacing their aging HVAC systems. Like in our schools, it will improve the air quality, and improve the daily lives of all that work in the building. But thanks to technological improvements, it will also help energy expenditures. In Hamden, that is a lesson to be learned, in their High School and Town Building.


More Solar Panels

A good idea that hasn’t lost any shine

It’s 2023. Well into a technological revolution that has allowed us to adapt to new energy sources that are not only good for the environment but good for your wallet as well. Manchester is just the latest municipality to install solar panels on town buildings, and it’s likely that they won’t be the last.

Announced late last year, Manchester has put up solar panels on seven town buildings, mostly schools as well as the Water & Sewer Department. Schools are a common denominator in these projects because they usually do take up a lot of space with convenient flat roofs.

In their release on the project, they noted that the town expects to save over $100,000 in electricity every year. Over the 20-year lease period for the equipment, the savings will equate to millions of dollars, and could be more depending on how the markets respond. Most people saw a rising cost in their utilities this year.

This partnership is with the Green Bank through its Solar Municipal Assistance Program.

“The Solar Marketplace Assistance Program (Solar MAP) is the perfect program for towns or cities that don’t have the tools, resources or experience to pursue energy saving options with solar on their own.”

The program takes municipalities through the entire process in four easy steps: Engage, Design, Review, and Execute.

Broadly, they meet with the municipality and design a system based on your needs. Then after that is approved, the Green Bank solicits proposals and leads the project through completion.

The Green Bank pays for all the upfront costs, as they had done in Manchester, but they also own the solar array during the twenty year agreement. At the end of the lease, the town has the right to purchase the solar panels outright or enter into a new agreement with the Green Bank.

Solar Panels have an expected life over 20 years, with a common refrain of 25 to 30 years of usefulness. Every year the technology gets better, that lifespan can increase, so in a few years it might be that newer panels installed now can last beyond the advertised lifespan.

This project is important for a multitude of reasons. One is that the barrier for entry is getting lower and lower each year. Right now through the Green Bank, you can save millions of dollars over the life of an agreement at no upfront cost.

Manchester itself understands this by partnering with the Green Bank Solar Municipal Assistance Program, but these are just retrofits. It bears saying that when they recently built a new school, it had factored green energy into the design. This won’t be the last project in CT where a town installs solar panels on a municipally-owned building.


Tree City, USA

Monroe is celebrating two decades of green growth

ometimes a tree is just a tree, but sometimes a tree is a lifeline. Back in 1872, one enterprising individual noted that his hometown of Nebraska City, NE had a lack of trees and proposed a simple idea – a holiday whereby individuals planted trees. A century and a half later, Monroe is celebrating nearly two decades as a “Tree City USA” municipality.

which must be in effect, 24/7/365 and not triggered by an event or land development process.

STree City USA®

2. There must be a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita.

Creating greener communities nationwide

3. And finally, there must be an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. In Connecticut that is the last Friday in April.

Back again to 1976, the year that Tree City USA began. After nearly a century of success, the Arbor Day Foundation wanted to see their vision of a “greener, healthier America” grow. Just 42 communities in 16 states were part of the initial cohort that year, and from information on their website, more than 3,600 communities from all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico are involved.

Cooler temperatures. Cleaner air. Healthier residents.

4. First Selectman Ken Kellogg said in a press release, “The award is given to honor Monroe’s commitment to effective community forest management and meeting criteria that demonstrates Monroe’s commitment to responsible municipal tree care.”

The benefits trees bring to urban environments are endless — and by meeting the four Tree City USA standards, your community can experience them firsthand.

Twenty Connecticut municipalities are represented as Tree City USA municipalities; with Milford and Stratford joining for just one year and Fairfield and Stamford as the longest standing recipients at 34 years. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Connecticut has a 100% recertification rate and planted 3,601 trees in 2021, the last year data is available.


The Tree City USA program was founded in 1976 to celebrate towns and cities committed to growing their urban canopy. Led by the Arbor Day Foundation, with partners at USDA Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters, it provides the foundational framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their tree cover.

And trees are so much more than just a plant. They are an integral part of our ecological landscape in Connecticut. Trees do not just look pretty lined up along an avenue, but perform essential tasks. The Arbor Day Foundation estimates that urban trees alone contribute $73 billion in environmental benefits each year through carbon sequestration, air pollution filtration, and stormwater management. They keep the temperature down in urban environments and raise property values.

To qualify, there are just four standards a municipality has to meet:

Program applications are completely free. Many cities renew their Tree City USA status every year, making them eligible for a Growth Award and other urban forestry opportunities.

There must be a tree board or department. Someone must be legally responsible for the care of all trees on city- or town-owned property.

1. There must be a public tree care ordinance,

So a tree is not always just a tree. Like Shel Silverstein’s famous Giving Tree, trees don’t ask for much and they give so much in return. But unlike that poetic tree, the Arbor Day Foundation suggests you follow the lead of Monroe and the 19 other Connecticut municipalities and plant them instead of cutting them down.


The Tree City USA program has helped more than 3,600 communities across the country build out their urban forests. Recognition forms the base layer for five different areas of growth, including expansion of personnel, financial investment, defined policies and plans, and engagement with residents.


ENVIRONMENT Making The Most Of It

New plant in Berlin promises to convert food scraps to animal feed

We all know that we’re supposed to recycle. Since the 1970s, Americans have slowly adopted the practice. Today, many communities around the state are adding to that practice with composting. With recycling, we know that the goal is reuse, but what good is food waste? A new plant in Berlin has a few plans for all that compost.

A few issues back, CT&C discussed plans from a few municipalities in moving towards composting some portion of their trash. In some municipalities, they’ve concentrated the efforts on restaurant districts, while others have asked residents to step in. But the issue really stems from tipping fees.

Going back several years now, China has adopted a policy of not taking in as much recycling. At one point, a strong majority of recyclables would make their way to Asia. After the Chinese Sword Policy, this avenue dried up. With no outlet for this recycling, tipping fees increased in practically every municipality in the nation. Towns and cities looked for innovative ideas to if not lower tipping fees, then lower the amount of waste being used.

Food waste comprises a large percentage of household waste, and an easy target for these cost saving measures. Some of this food waste can be turned back into compost that will help food grow on Connecticut farms. But in Berlin, that food waste won’t go to plant food, but animal food.

Partnering with Bright Feeds, who promise to help lower costs. CEO Jonathan Fife “praised Connecticut’s state policies that encourage the green food waste process and the work of the Connecticut Coalition of Sustainable Materials Management,” in an interview with the Hartford Business Journal.

The process takes any food as long as it was meant for human consumption, even food that is still packaged, and then processes that waste through what they call “state-of-the-art technology and AI.”

Here’s where it gets interesting: “All food that enters our facility is immediately tagged based on its nutrient composition, and then our algorithms determine its movement throughout our facility. Rather than relying on operator judgment to mix incoming material, our algorithms do the work for us. This automation allows us to produce a consistent feed, batch after batch.”

This product can be served to a variety of uses – pets, poultry, swine, aquaculture, and dairy feeding operations. If this could be adopted nationally, it would certainly help with the overreliance on corn and soy for animal feed.

While the processing plant was brought to Berlin, the service area includes all of Connecticut as well as some of our neighboring states. And the promise is that because the quality of their product is higher than compost, their tipping fees will be lower.

For towns and cities that want to move quickly on lowering tipping fees, there are a few options now. With Bright Feeds right there in Berlin, it makes sense to look to them as an option. As costs continue to rise, we’re going to need folks to adopt composting at a much higher rate than recycling.


ENVIRONMENT Through Our Backyards

A native plant policy is enacted in Ridgefield to save our ecosystem

For centuries, the Northeast niche looked a certain way – plants and trees grew native in grasslands and marshes. But when settlers moved in from abroad, they brought with them plants and grasses that weren’t natural to the area. Some flourished, but some have wreaked havoc on the ecosystem. Now with the understanding of their impact, towns can do something about it like in Ridgefield which has pledged to plant only native plants on town properties. It’s important to recognize that ecosystems work as one interconnected network of plants and animals –including humans – and that network is sometimes fragile. If an invasive species overtakes a certain grass or shrub that a certain insect feeds on, that insect population can diminish, leading to a decline in a population of birds and so on and so forth.

And while us humans are disconnected from nature, invasive species can impact us as well – Japanese Knotweed can severely alter areas with dramatic spread and growth over short periods of time and can even cause damage to buildings and roads if it is allowed to persist. Maintenance and removal of this plant can take weeks of constant and careful removal, taking up to ten years to completely rid a small patch.

These invasive species can come from many different sources. English settlers hundreds of years ago brought plants that reminded them of home, essen-

tially terraforming New England into exactly that – a new England across an ocean. To this day, many plants come over as ornamental before spreading and taking over territories. Others spread through accidental shipping, a single seed taking refuge on a plane or boat can be the start of an invasive pest.

Ridgefield’s HamletHub reported on the new policy in town that “will require all new plantings on town property to be native plants,” defined as “those that are indigenous to the Northeast United States.” They are the second such town to adopt a policy like this, citing Newtown as the first to enact a similar statute in 2021. “The policy’s main provision states that 100% of new and replacement trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and ground covering plantings on municipal properties will be native to the Northeast. The policy also applies to any replacement plantings, including but not limited to trees, shrubs, and perennials felled by storms, disease, redevelopment/expansion, or other reasons.”

Protecting native plants and promoting the ecosystem is so much more than conservation of our parks. It is protecting the fragile ecosystem of plants, insects, birds, mammals, even us. It’s our waterways and our forests. Our backyards and the decorative plants around our town halls. Ridgefield’s policy might seem like a small change – but it can have a huge impact for years or even centuries to come.



The Forecast Is Hot

How to mitigate global warming at home

As the world swelters in record setting heat, it’s important to remember that 2022 might be one of the coolest summers this decade. Towns and cities across the state had to open up their cooling centers this past July as Connecticut dealt with a heatwave and drought at the same time.

The issue of climate change and man-made global warming is not likely to slow down. But municipalities can make a difference. A recent article published by the National League of Cities argued for five ways that towns and cities can make a difference in climate action, here are some of the ways Connecticut Towns and Cities are already doing this work:

1. Boosting Energy Efficiency in Builldings

Anyone who has been down to Long Wharf in New Haven where the CCM offices are located will recognize the Pirelli building for it’s striking and dividing façade. While not everyone is a fan, some folks just completely renovated its interior for the country’s first carbon neutral hotel.

It is a model of what we can do with our existing stock of buildings – and is something that municipalities can emphasize in their action plans.

“Cities can encourage energy efficiency in new buildings by implementing policies or standards for new construction and providing programs that encourage retrofitting of older buildings.”

2. Investing in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Electric Vehicles have been coming down the road for a long time now. With price points coming down and the rising cost of gas, many people are looking at EVs for their next car. But we need the infrastructure to make it worth everyone’s while.

Towns and cities have stepped up to the plate and started installing chargers in places like libraries and municipal buildings, while also investing in the technology as well.

And while they can save money on gas, don’t forget that folks with EVs like to stop places with chargers, making them an enticing economic development tool as well.

3. Optimizing Waste Operations

Everyone knows that MERA is going away and that tipping fees are rising everywhere. On the former, the waste-to-energy plant’s days as a “green” replacement were winding down. On the latter, recycling is becoming more expensive thanks to policies abroad.

So what are towns and cities to do? One can look to all the towns that are investing in composting and reuse policies. From neighborhoods to restaurant districts, taking food scraps out of the waste stream will not only increase savings, but would be a environmentally friendly way to get nutrients back into the soil and away from landfills.

4. Improving Access to Public Transportation

Thanks to IIJA, infrastructure improvements are on everybody’s minds. And although just two bullet points ago, we were talking about EVs, the best alternatives are actually getting people to take mass transit. The more people we have in one car, the more efficient that method of travel is.

Connecticut municipalities are looking into investments in EV busses and asking the state to help with railways. And the better that infrastructure gets, the more towns and cities can invest in Transit Oriented Development.

Optimizing how residents get to and from work, the store, or downtown will pay off dividends in decreasing emissions.

5. Investing in Renewable Energy

Perhaps the biggest no-brainer on the list. Fossil fuels are one of the biggest contributors to global warming – in order for that gasoline to create energy, you literally have to set it on fire! So why not get resources from the big flaming nuclear fusion factory in the sky?

Placing solar arrays on schools and in empty fields has been a popular move for decades now, and municipalities that have made those investments have seen millions in dollars of savings. New practices like placing solar panels over parking lots can double those efforts by not only creating energy via the solar panels, but keeping the cars beneath them cool from the hot sun. Towns and cites are looking into microgrids and wind power and every solution that is currently available. As the NLC article says, “Decreasing reliance on fossil fuels is critical to moving our climate goals forward and is included in most cities’ recent climate action plans.

It is important to remember that this will likely be among the coolest summers we have in the 21st century. The changes need to happen now so that it doesn’t get worse. Many infrastructure changes will have to happen on a state or federal level, but municipalities are not powerless to address climate change.



Don’t Let It Go To Waste

Chester Fair partners with SustainableCT for Zero Waste Initiative

The Chester Fair has been an institution in Connecticut for over 100 years. But like so many fairs, it moves into town like a whirlwind, and unfortunately whirlwinds can pick up dirt and debris. That is why the folks that run the fair decided that they were going to be on a path to zero waste.

With hundreds – even thousands –of folks lining up to enjoy the threeday event, there is a lot of waste that can be generated. In an article on Zip06, Fair Board Vice President said that five 350-gallon waste containers would be full by the end of Friday and Saturday night.

So how do you manage that? The volunteers that run the event had some ideas. But they needed help from the community to implement them, and they looked to Sustainable CT’s community match fund to get the plan into action.

“We know that in our first year we can divert over 75% of the food scraps, utensils and paper goods from trash into collected waste that will be transferred to a composting facility,” went one idea on their fundraising page. “Corrugated boxes, paper and Fryolator oil, we know that we can recycle close to 100%. And with a phased-in approach, we can all but eliminate single use plastics on the fairgrounds.”

So they began fundraising in April of 2022 for a finish date of June 1, 2022, raising $7,500 from the community, which was matched by Sustainable CT for a total of $15,000. And implementation began right away.

Staff were hired to insure proper collection and recycling of materials, composting, and more were put in place to set them on the right path.

But the plans do not end there.

Thinking long-term, the fair staff wants to eliminate single-use plastic bottles over the next several years.

They hope that by implementing this standard in Chester, they will “set a reduced environmental impact standard for other country fairs, not only in CT, but throughout New England.”

And our fairs are a proud tradition in Connecticut. With fairs big and small around the state, you can multiply the amount of waste that

gets created. It adds up to a lot, but the Chester Fair shows that there are other ways. You can look for compostable materials, you can collect recyclables, and you can find other ways to make your event more sustainable. By fundraising through the Community Match Fund, the Chester Fair proves that this is something the community could get behind as well.


Field Of Dreams

Miracle League building fields for all in Vernon and beyond

Everyone deserves to have fun. Part of growing up involves getting outdoors, participating in group activities and team sports, and living life. But many of our outdoor facilities are not built with inclusivity in mind. The Miracle League of Northern Connecticut has worked with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to build one such field in Vernon.

The Miracle League announced a partnership with the foundation to construct a park at the Northeast School in Vernon, with the Foundation funding the actual park construction and assisting in fundraising efforts to maintain the field and add programming.

It will be what they call a “Miracle League Field,” one that “provides opportunities for children with physical and cognitive challenges to participate in recreational activities in an accessible, nurturing, and non-competitive environment where families can come together to cultivate new friendships and experience the joy of play.

Importantly, the field will be built with a “short turf” that is fully wheelchair accessible and cushioned, and the pitching mound and bases are painted onto the surface so that there are no raised obstacles.

All in all, “the goal is to make this field appear as

similar as possible to a typical little league field while allowing accessibility and safety for all.”

In addition to outfitting the field for baseball, there will be possible uses for soccer, kickball and lacrosse as well.

The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation was founded to “honor the legacy and life of Cal Ripken, Sr.,” one of baseball’s greats. The Foundation “prepares at-risk youth for life’s challenges by teaching them critical life skills such as teamwork, communication, work ethic, and respect.”

Miracle League Field would be able to host over 300 children with special needs according to their website, and over 1000 in Tolland County overall.

They hope to have up to six Miracle Leagues in the state of Connecticut. There are two other fields in Connecticut, one in West Hartford and one in East Lyme. There are over 200 miracles leagues nationwide.

It’s important that kids get out there, under the sun on a nice day. Participation in group activities is just part of growing up. Thanks to the Miracle League of Northern Connecticut and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, kids of all needs will have a place to grow and learn. But most importantly, have fun.



Don’t Let A Good Idea Go To Waste

Sustainable CT Match Fund helps Southbury deal with trash

If you’ve followed CCM for the past several years, you know that we’ve kept an eye on the trash crisis unfolding in our state and beyond. We weren’t the only ones though, and Sustainable Southbury did a Sustainable CT Community Match Fund Grant to help tackle this issue.

Their reason for tackling trash is an obvious one then, and their plan is to go after food waste in trash first. That is becoming a more common thread throughout the state as municipalities and local organizations like Sustainable Southbury look for ways to lower the amount of trash they throw out.

“Gone are the days of throwing out our trash and never giving it a second thought,” they say on their donation page. “Our landfills are full, the Hartford trash burning plant has closed and many towns are now shipping trash out of state (expensive in both dollars and carbon emissions).”

They have decided that they will act instead of continuing to take stock in the problem.

Their reasons for going after food waste are becoming a common refrain:

• It makes up 22% of our trash

• Attracts rodents

• Increases methane in landfills

• Increases air pollution from trash burning & hauling

• Raises cost of disposal for all of us

That last one must have been a sticking point for

several dozen local residents as Sustainable Southbury was able to raise $6,785 from 83 supporters for a total of $12,875 with $6000 coming from the Sustainable CT Community Match Fund.

The funding will be used to educate local residents about reducing/eliminating food scraps in their garbage, to expand the food waste reduction program for food-based businesses in Southbury, and to start town-wide food scrap recycling pilots according to their press release on the successful funding round. The inspiring thing about all of this is that Sustainable Southbury is run entirely by volunteers, and add to that the donations from the over-80 individuals, and you have a concerned community that is willing to step up to the moment.

They’ve also received three additional grants from the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, the Community Foundation and the Tribury Rotary totaling an addition $6,740.

All it takes sometimes is a few dedicated individuals and the framework that Sustainable CT provides to help our towns and cities make the necessary changes for a sustainable future.

Like Sustainable Southbury, other organizations, nonprofits, individuals, municipalities and others in a Sustainable CT-registered town can look into a community match fund. Just email for more information.


Casting Your Vote

Greenwich named Center for Election Excellence

With so much concern about the safety and integrity of our elections, the most recent statewide election was sure to be closely watched. One organization that was looking was the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, who took note of Greenwich as a “Center for Election Excellence.”

The organization is part of a collaboration between many non-profits and centered in The Audacious Project, which is part of the funding wing of TED, the non-profit noted for their popular talks.

As part of the inaugural selections for Centers of Election Excellence, local election departments declared their interest and were part of an information session. Once selected, the Centers began to meet and identify what is working and what is not.

“As part of the Alliance, Centers will receive training, mentorship, and resources, and serve as a support system for each other and election departments across the country.

“Centers will participate in co-creating values and standards of election excellence which will be rolled out to jurisdictions nationwide, uplifting and advancing the profession of election administration in the years to come.”

The list of 2023 candidates included cities across the country, but Greenwich was the only city in the Greater

Northeast area to be invited to participate.

Greenwich Registrars Fred DeCaro III and Mary Hegarty worked together from opposite sides of the aisle to secure the spot that eventually led to them receiving this designation.

In a news released obtained from, Hegarty said, “Fred and I serve as an example of bipartisan cooperation in election administration. We have an excellent working relationship and although we have different personal views on policy issues, we are united in our dedication to administer fair and open elections.”

DeCaro said that he didn’t hesitate to sign up for these informational sessions – “We are always looking at how to improve service to our town. Likewise, we believe we have ideas and best practices to share with our new friends from across the country.”

The other recipients include Contra Costa County, CA; Shasta County, CA; Kane County, IL; Macoupin County, IL; Ottawa County, MI; Clark County, NV; Brunswick County, NC; Forsyth County, NC; and Madison, WI.

While there have been no indications of widespread voter fraud, the 2024 elections will be among the most watched and scrutinized. Making sure that your town or city is on top of election management like Greenwich will make for a perfect day in democracy.

Fred DeCaro III – ROV (R), Traci Carney – Assistant ROV (R), Mary Hegarty – ROV (D), Lynn Giacomo – Assistant ROV (D)

The Start Of A Beautiful Friendship

East Lyme and Waterford find more and more ways to work together

When it comes to regionalization, the easiest concept to wrap your head around is the fact that working with other municipalities might save you money. But regionalization is not just a lineitem on a budget, it is a working relationship between towns that must be upheld. Take the relationship between Waterford and East Lyme for example.

In a recent article for the New London Day about a wastewater agreement, several representatives from both towns went on the say how well the partnership between the two towns are.

Both Waterford First Selectman Rob Brule and East Lyme First Selectman Kevin Seery,commented on the arrangement with the former saying “This was a perfect example of how communities can work together,” and the latter saying “It was a good working relationship too.”

First Selectman Seery went on to say that during conversations on the wastewater transfer, they even addressed future items.

Both towns have their sewage processed in New London, per the article, which was agreed to in 2021. As the arrangement stands, all of East Lyme’s sewage must pass through a “force main” that is owned by Waterford.

The town of East Lyme is financially responsible for the operation and maintenance, but both towns will be responsible for capital improvements based on the flow of water from each town.

The towns are also part of agreements when it comes to animal control. The East Lyme/Waterford Animal Control is a full-service animal shelter that is coincidentally located in New London.

They also share a shellfish commission which designates the amount and type of shellfish that might be taken from portions of the Niantic River.

In the future, the towns may be joined in this wastewater management agreement by Old Lyme, and the revenue generated may be shared proportionally between the two towns.

While the agreement solves one particular issue, it doesn’t nearly solve all problems that municipalities face. But it doesn’t take away any of either town’s independence either.

Regionalization works best when and where it makes sense for both towns. As seen here with Waterford and East Lyme, they’ve found areas that make sense for them and it’s created a relationship where the towns seek out those areas where they can improve services for their residents.

View of the Rocky Neck State Park jetty, beach and the Giants Neck area shoreline in the Niantic section of East Lyme


Combating Costs

Bristol asks how to manage finance in time of inflation

The economy can sometimes be like a series of dominoes. The price of one resource like lumber goes up, and down the supply chain strawberries at your local farm go up. Thanks to inflation, towns and cities are experiencing this issue daily. In Bristol, the Board of Finance is considering how they can combat costs at home.

While inflation might not be solvable at the town level – or frankly at the state level, needing interference from the Federal Reserve – municipalities must be proactive in finding solutions. In a recent article for the Bristol Press, the Board of Finance discussed the many issues that they are facing and how they can mitigate them.

One example of how this is negatively affecting towns is in fuel costs. The article notes that the board had forecasted fuel expenditures on a

time before the war in Ukraine and other forces drove the price up to nearly $6.50 a gallon. This aggressive rise in price had put them in a deficit of about $600,000.

This domino effect is causing the dollar to be spread even thinner at a time when towns and cities have been given unprecedented amounts to be spent on projects. In all likelihood, a project started today would cost more than it would have two years ago, but this is not something anyone could have easily predicted.

So a dual approach is needed, and best summed up by Board of Finance Chair John Smith in the article: “Hope for the best and plan for the worst.”

For one, they brainstormed ideas where things can be looked at within the town. They discussed bringing together all the department

heads, including those at the Board of Education, to discuss where efficiencies could be found.

And one suggested solution sounded very familiar. Board Member Marie O’Brien asked “if there were any statewide or municipal partnerships in purchasing based on volume.” In the past, Smith noted, there had been initiatives where the state would come in and purchase directly from companies in bulk so that towns and cities could pay a transportation fee to have it brought to Bristol.

What’s important is that towns and cities think about these issues, even when it might not seem like they have to. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our world can drastically change overnight. Like the Bristol Board of Finance, this risk management can help in current and future crises.

“Hope for the best and plan for the worst.”

5 – 1 = Full Workweek?

Mansfield asks if four-day workweek works for residents

With each passing month, the four-day workweek is gaining steam. But for a municipality, how useful is it for residents? That is what Mansfield is trying to find out with a six-month pilot at town hall.

From January to June, Mansfield Town Hall will be open only four days during the week, while maintaining longer hours in the evening.

According to their website, they will be open Monday through Wednesday from 8:00 A.M. to 5:15 P.M. and Thursday from 8:00 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. – with exceptions for the Mansfield Public Schools central office, Eastern Highlands Health District, and Resident Troopers Office, as well as facilities like the library and senior center.

Many initiatives to implement the four-day workweek is piloted by organizations looking to study the impact on the employee. A global study by a group calling themselves 4 Day Week have suggested that companies that trial the shortened workweek had a positive impact on “company performance, productivity, and employee wellbeing,” according to reporting by the BBC, as the UK has been home to many such trials.

Of 70 firms, BBC said that 60 were going to keep the four-day workweek because employees were happy about the change.

Mansfield flips that equation to ask if they could still deliver everything that they need to on the shortened


Mansfield Town Manager Ryan Aylesworth seems to think that they will.

Quoted in the Willimantic Chronicle, he said, “More and more organizations, more and more municipalities are implementing four-day workweeks.

“The benefits are certainly noteworthy for employees, i.e. work life balance, the ability to have more consecutive days off for things that are conducive for family life, for leisure activities. But also, our working hypothesis is that this is not just an employee-centered initiative, but actually a means for us to improve our service delivery to residents.”

Notably, this is accomplished with their longer work days. And unlike pilots in other fields, municipalities often adopt a schedule where employees work a longer shift to make up for the lost day. In this case, they’ll be open for approximately 38 hours.

As this idea catches on, it might become the norm in the same way that the two-day weekend caught on a century ago. In Maryland, lawmakers introduced a bill incentivizing the 32-hour work week without cutting pay with a tax credit.

Eventually, more places are going to have to wonder how it’s affecting their customer base. In the case of Mansfield, the very fact that they’re asking shows that they’re putting their constituents at top of mind.



Building A Game Plan

Greenwich Library Strategic Plan a model of success

The municipal library has been a trusty resource for town and city residents for decades since the first tax-supported library in Peterborough, New Hampshire. But has COVID changed all that? What does it mean to be a library in 2023? The Greenwich Library is asking itself those questions in their Strategic Plan 2023-2025.


For them, the new starts with a goodbye, after nearly a decade of stewardship, Director Barbara Ormerod-Glynn has retired at the end of 2022. And in a way, the past several years have retired the old ways of doing things.

awareness-building to engage members in Library services and expand our use of volunteers. strategic, institutional approach to members connect with one another, background, age, or identity.

And that is reflected in their priorities cited in the Strategic Plan Document: “Recognizing our current transitional state and the forthcoming change in leadership, this plan calls for another comprehensive strategic planning effort to occur in 2025.”

They will assess their “Foundational thinking” while reconnecting with their membership after the pandemic.


a higher level of personalized connection to resources.

There are seven areas of focus: Community Connections, Patron Services, Technology, Programming, Collections, Space and Facilities, and Organizational Effectiveness.

modified services to best meet the

Each of these areas of focus are divided into key points, deliverables and desired outcomes. In the first area, Greenwich is looking how to reconnect with their residents who were regular patrons before the pandemic, and reaching out to those who were not.

and support current patron- and technologies.

They want to market the Library as a “Place to access trusted advisors to help find reliable information.”

Greenwich residents have equitable technology.

Most folks over the pandemic social distancing have heavily relied on the internet to be their “librarians.” But as we have seen, there has been an equally huge insurgence of



Reaching out to your local librarian is a way to find a welcoming environment and people you can trust to find your reliable information.

The process builds upon strategic plans that took place between 2012-2017 and 2018-2022. According to the current Strategic Plan, they assembled working groups to think about the “baseline conditions and potential priorities,” culminating in a meeting of all staff, members of their Friends groups, and Board of Trustees to hash out their ideas.

Fortunately, the library will be left in good hands as the plan takes shape. Deputy Director Joseph Williams has taken the reins to start 2023.

a. Ensure our collections reflect the Greenwich community’s diverse backgrounds and interests.

b. Promote our collections via related programming and partnerships.



The lesson here is that good planning is consistent planning. Checking in on your department or institution on a regular basis will allow you to see where you need to improve, allow you to adapt, and most importantly, engage with those most important to you – members and employees. It’s a recipe for success, perhaps one you can find in a cookbook at the Greenwich Library.

a. Invest in targeted facilities improvements for Byram,
Cos Cob, and Main.


Imagine No Traffic Accidents

Stamford sets Vision Zero for traffic goal

As we begin to invest in infrastructure, towns and cities around the country must think of the intelligent and innovative ways they can increase pedestrian and vehicle safety. Being intentional about safety is often the first step, one that Stamford has recently taken in a pledge to eliminate traffic fatalities in the next decade.

First some figures. In the United States, traffic fatalities reached an apex in the 1930s – and it’s no wonder why. Cars then were a new invention, and modern safety features we’re not yet invented or implemented. The 2010s were the safest decade on record, but the 2020s have already crept back up.

Even worse, in Connecticut, pedestrian fatalities have been tracking up every year for over a decade. In an OpEd by Anthony Cherolis printed in, he says that “We are collectively less safe on our roads, whether driving or walking, than we were in 2009.”

Some of that is the cars we drive, some of that is infrastructure, and a lot of it is distracted driving.

Stamford is responding to this info with Vision Zero. It is, according to their release, “a fundamental shift in how we think about our roads.”

They take the info that mistakes happen and that you cannot expect 100% compliance on all roads all the time by designing road systems and policies “to ensure those inevitable mistakes do not result in severe injuries or fatalities.”

Outlined in the executive order, signed by Mayor Caroline Simmons, the city will release a Vision Zero Action Plan to provide a roadmap with both short-term and long-term strategies.

At a time when municipalities are considering their infrastructure, this is a golden opportunity to ask what kinds of traffic calming measures are right or wrong for the city. It is also a time to ask for recommendations to reduce speeding overall, which the executive order cites by name. Across Connecticut and the nation, city planners are adding roundabouts and speed bumps to straightaways to reduce speed. With plenty of other choices, it’s a matter of what is right in each instance. What is most important is doing anything. Over the next decade, more and more individuals will be looking to implement things like self-driving cars, lane assist, and if trends continue, more will be biking or walking to work. Even by having the conversation, Stamford is acknowledging that “even one fatality is too much.”



Making Attentive Drivers

Towns and cities deal with distracted and dangerous drivers

Across Connecticut, towns and cities are asking themselves what they can do to quell the dramatic increase in traffic deaths. The most common tactic municipalities have used is a tactic known as traffic calming. Here are two common and popular ideas that have been proposed around the state:

The Roundabout:

CT&C has written before about the Roundabout, but they are still a foreign concept to many American drivers. That’s likely because they’re much more common and popular across the sea. But in a new master plan, West Hartford might be adopting the measure at one of their riskiest intersections.

The intersection at Main Street and Farmington Avenue is the site of common crashes due to the size and number of vehicles that pass through it. A roundabout won’t decrease the number of vehicles, but it will force them to consider what’s happening in front of them.

What roundabouts actually do is force drivers to pay attention. At a normal intersection, there aren’t any objects in the way, until there’s another car. A distracted driver could assume there’s nothing to worry about. But with a roundabout, drivers are forced to consider each next move because they simply cannot go straight.

Drivers should be paying attention, but we know they always aren’t.

Dealing with the Stroad:

In Hamden, they are asking what they can do about the Stroad. A portmanteau of the words Street and

Road, it is a place where low speed street functions meet high speed thoroughfares of roads. This can be a dangerous mix.

Both Dixwell and Whitney Avenues fit this definition at certain stretches and they have become the site of a majority of the town’s motor vehicle accidents. The solution is often to make the stroad less like a road and more like a street. In partnership with their legislative delegation, Hamden is asking questions like – What if we cut down the width of lanes? And Can we make it easier to cross the street?

In an article from the New Haven Register on the plans, some folks are cited saying that they believe this will create more traffic, as well as that most accidents are caused by speeding drivers. Which raises a final question – are people who are caught in traffic ever speeding?


The idea of traffic calming often means to make driving more difficult so individuals pay more attention to the road, and making infrastructure more available to pedestrians. But there’s a whole toolbox of traffic calming solutions – many of which are available at the Project for Public Spaces website https://www.pps. org/article/livememtraffic

In West Hartford and Hamden, they are looking for traffic calming solutions because they need to. But they aren’t alone. Towns and cities around the state – especially since the pandemic – have been asking themselves what can they do. There are options, and they can let the roads do the talking.


Safe Routes

New Haven investing big into transportation for all

It has been clear that New Haven has made alternative forms of transportation a priority over the last several years. Whether you are walking, riding a bike, or taking public transportation, the city has made upgrades to make it easier. But the work is not done. In the “Safe Routes For All” proposed future, New Haven can transform transportation.

The Safe Routes for All Citywide Plan will “create a blueprint for improving infrastructure to support active transportation throughout the City of New Haven,” and is looking to use funds made available from the $1 trillion Infrastructure and Jobs Act. The project will occur across three main focus areas – Walk New Haven, Ride New Haven, and Bike New Haven.

The first steps involved identifying problem areas. In neighborhoods like Fair Haven Heights, nearly 24% of the sidewalks are in need of repairs, in Quinnipiac Meadows, over 85% of the intersections need crosswalks. And from here, proposals are made for improvements. One example is Hemingway St & Eastern St where there are no existing crosswalks, an abruptly ending sidewalk, and no bicycle infrastructure. This makes the area unsafe for anyone not in a motor vehicle – and even then areas like this are prone to accidents. But the newly proposed infrastructure includes curb extensions that will shorten the distance for pedestrians with the added benefit of forcing cars to slow down when

making turns. The addition of protected bikeways on Eastern St. are what one might call a no-brainer. Plans on Whalley Avenue, one of the busiest streets in New Haven, include upgrades for dedicated bus lanes with a center lane boarding island, allowing easy access to the local grocery store, as well as protected bike lanes on a street many cyclists avoid simply because it is not safe.

All in all, the City wants to upgrade and increase the amount of dedicated bikeways by 150% over the next decade or so, including continuous routes on the north-south and east-west thoroughfares.

And while many individuals look to the electric vehicle for a greener future for commuters, cities like New Haven around the country are remembering those other commuters, those that travel by foot and by pedal. Pedestrians and cyclists do less damage to the roadways, necessitating less repair, saving cities money. And those that travel by bike often travel lighter, meaning they spend more in the local economy when it comes to food. (Think of all the money they save by not having to buy gas or insurance on a car!)

But in order to have the benefits, people must be able to see themselves not needing a car. And to do that, people must be safe. In New Haven at least, they pledge to have safe routes for all.



Greenway Connects

Hartford area towns decide best route for nationwide bicycle infrastruc-

New England and Connecticut in general has a storied history when it comes to bicycles. The first patent for a bicycle was awarded to an Ansonia man over 150 years ago, and Columbia bikes, once manufactured out of Hartford, continued to be sold today. You can say it’s part of our “heritage,” as members of several Capitol area towns look to link the Bloomfield Greenway to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail.

The Greenway, like so many other bicycle paths, is a former railway, in this case, the old Connecticut Western Railroad lines. It is less than 2 miles of trail between the towns of Bloomfield and Simsbury. In the listing for the trail on traillink, it is noted that the plan the whole time was to connect the Greenway from Hartford to the Farmington Canal Trail.

The Canal has been written about several times in the pages of CT&C –not simply because we here are fans of biking – but because it extends from New Haven all the way to the Massachusetts border and beyond.

Connecting to this massive piece of infrastructure is a no-brainer, and these towns, through the Capitol Region Council of Governments, is looking into how to best accomplish this task.

There are many common issues that bicycle and trail infrastructure run into. The primary issue is where car infrastructure and trail infrastructure meet. On the Canal Trail, there are still several miles where the trail diverges onto public roads, which is unfortunately not the safest option.

But the Greenway has other site-specific issues – namely the Farmington River and it’s environs. The different elevations can often be an issue for your everyday cyclist and a deterrent for those who simply want a nice place to walk.

In a piece written about the trail for the Hartford Courant, it appears that as many options have been rejected as have been considered. Working through these issues will result in an amenity that will be cherished by people today and in future generations. A common refrain in CT&C – and even in this issue – younger generation prefer infrastructure that allows them to bike and/or walk to work. And so it goes that they’d like to bike for

fun as well, going for stints on a weekend day as much as riding on a Monday morning.

All in all, this is going to eventually add up to something so much bigger than just a few miles here and there. The Bloomfield Greenway, the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail are part of the East Coast Greenway –over 3000 miles of trail from Florida to Maine. It’s only natural that we should be doing what we can to make it link up – it’s in our heritage.

Pierre Lallement of Ansonia, andJames Carroll of New Haven filed the earliest and only American patent application for the pedal-bicycle in April 1866, and the patent was awarded on November 20, 1866.


Growth In Groton

How does one town handle the influx of new residents?

For many years to come, housing will be the topic of the day: Connecticut residents, new and old, need some place to live of course. And there is no greater example than Southeastern Connecticut where Electric Boat is planning on hiring 1500 individuals in the immediate future.

So where are these folks going to live?

Down in Groton, where Electric Boat is located, the need for housing is well known. In two separate articles, one published by the Day and the other by CT Insider, the town has been in contact with the business about ways to incentivize developers or even having the company itself build housing.

The challenge will be to build housing across the pricing ranges. While some folks will be looking for a place to settle down, many employees said they want affordable rentals. A study was noted in the Insider article saying, “newly constructed housing would be preferred, with four of every 10 new employees preferring to rent rather than own,” with $1500 being the cap on monthly costs.

Furthermore, they cited an oft-repeated mantra about younger generations, stating that many would like to see options to walk or bike to work. Though contentious in some circles, the idea of a 15-minute city has

been growing in popularity, where people can get to work, the grocery store, schools and downtown amenities in just a quarter of an hour by foot or wheels.

This is a point that the Day article looks at in great length. With so many new people, what are the impacts going to be on parking and traffic?

Electric Boat is helping by continuing their hybrid work arrangement, with one manager quoted saying that only employees that need to be there in person should be there in person. The town recognizes that there will likely be a crunch, and part of the issue is protecting parking for residents that don’t work at the boatyard. And of course, many of these individuals will be moving in with or starting families throughout their career at Electric Boat. So Groton, and many of the immediate surrounding areas must think about classroom size growing as many schools around the state are actually shrinking.

This is a good problem in many ways. Electric Boat might be leading the way, but offshore wind is expected to need additional employees, and a nearby museum being built. Housing, parking, schools, its all infrastructure and it’s all connected. If we want to keep growing our state, we have to make sure that we are investing in that growth, and not letting the plans sink.



Up Around The Bend

Middletown looks to riverfront once again

It’s hard to forget that our state was named after the river that runs through it – the word Connecticut is a Mohegan-Pequot word for “long tidal river.” From before there were settlers, there was infrastructure along the river that aided trade and commerce. Through to 2022, towns and cities are trying to build out infrastructure to take advantage of this natural feature, and Middletown has set forth plans to take advantage of their lot.

In a project called Return to the Riverbend, the City of Middletown is looking to revitalize the riverbend area, which they have broken down into four separate districts, Riverside, Sumner Brook, Hillside, and the South End. Covering over 200-acres, the area currently includes “various industrial, residential, open space, and undeveloped sites that offer great opportunities for future development, recreation, and open space.” This includes the already extant Harbor Park, as well as a former wastewater treatment plant and hospital.

According to their Master Plan, available on their website, the process built upon work that had already been completed in 2014, 2019, and 2021, including their Plan of Conservation & Development. This meant that they had a head start when asking the public and experts on what could be done in this area. Overall, they collected more than 1,200 comments from hundreds of stakeholders that helped guide their thinking.

And the conclusion that they reached was guided by two conditions cited in the master plan document:

1. There must be attractions and/or public amenities that people want to visit.

2. There must be direct, safe, and attractive physical connections between the adjacent neighborhoods and the waterfront.

To accomplish this, they will consider adding four-season parks, public docks, and a new cultural and entertainment hub where people can see bands while relaxing near the river.

Of course, to support this, they are going to need to bring in partners like restaurants, retail, and other private enterprises that will bolster these new districts. In order to reach that goal, the city’s “immediate next step” is to change their land-use policy to foster this kind of new environment they and their residents are envisioning. Once those get rolling – they can start attracting the kind of businesses they need to get back to the riverbend.

One of the most important pieces of the area is the memorial monument to the Wangunk people who made an early mark on the Connecticut River. It is likely that for many hundreds of years, the Connecticut River was a natural resource and local economic hotspot. In 2022 and beyond it will remain so.


Face-To-Face Care, Town By Town

Westport, Weston, and Wilton offer mental health services

According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic led to a sharp increase of anxiety and depression worldwide. The response needs to be equal in measure. Westport, Weston, and Wilton have joined into a partnership to offer a Counseling Assistance Program aimed at low-income and under-insured residents. From a CT Insider article, the three towns could be one of the first in the state to join forces for mental health resources. Quoted is Elaine Daignault, Westport’s human services director who said that “Locally, human services departments have experienced an influx of inquiries from residents seeking mental health support services with long waitlists and other barriers preventing clients from pursuing treatment.”

This is unfortunately not a Connecticut specific issue. Across the United States there is a mental health care professional shortage that is causing these long waiting times for issues that often need immediate attention. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the country will be short between 14,000 and 30,000 mental health professionals.

These conditions are in part what led to this groundbreaking regional initiative. Funded in part by American Rescue Plan Funds, it will also allow the three communities to extend the use of their resources and expand services according to info in the Insider article.

Part of the agreement is a partnership with a local mental health organization, Positive Directions, who will facilitate referrals. Per the Insider article, people or families can often expect to get an appointment within a week of calling.

Positive Directions was founded just over 50 years ago in Westport as a volunteer organization according to their website. They began by help-

ing those in recovery from alcohol addiction, and over time broadening their reach to helping folks struggling with mental health, problem gambling and other addictions. While conditions have improved since the worst part of the pandemic, things are still dire for people who cannot access “faceto-face care” according to the World Health Organization. And convincing more folks to focus in psychiatry is only one facet of the

issue per the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Until then, it’ll be up to communities to support their residents in any way they can. The partnership between Westport, Weston and Wilton is an important step in understanding the severity of the problem. By partnering up for a regional solution, with trusted leaders like the Positive Directors organization, they have shown they are taking the matter seriously.



Slow Down

Milford Police say tech makes roads safer

While the state studies the implementation of speed cameras, there has been another technology that has proven effective in combatting speeding on local streets that is much less punitive: the digital radar sign. According to a recent article in the CT Post, the City of Milford has seen excellent results in using the road safety infrastructure.

Over the last several years, CT&C has written about the growing concern of traffic safety. Each year, more and more pedestrians are being hit, and there has been a stark increase in vehicles driving the wrong direction and generally being distracted whether by screens in their dashboard or on their phones.

And the speed a car is driving when an accident inevitably happens can mean life or death for a pedestrian. According to, the fatality rate of a pedestrian hit by a car going 40 mph is around 90%. Drop that speed to 20 mph and the fatality rate drops not just by half, but to 10%.

One major reason why there is an 80% drop in fatality rate is because it takes longer for an image to register when you are traveling faster. At 40 mph it might take upwards of 60 feet to even realize that you need to react, and an additional 80 feet to actually bring your car to a complete stop. A car going 20 mph would take 60 feet total, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Speeding is clearly a major factor in the safety of our streets, so do the radar signs actually work? The Milford Police Department did a traffic study reported on in the CT Post that showed they were incredibly effective in their city.

One sign located at Gulf Street indicated such an effect.

“The speed limit at the Gulf Street sign is 25 mph. According to the state DOT, the Gulf Street sign showed the 8th percentile speeds, the speed at which 85 percent of vehicles travel at or below, were about 36 mph. The addition of the radar sign, combined with a speed limit sign resulted in 8th percentile speeds dropping between 2 and 7 mph.”

While that won’t put them at the 25 mph speed limit, it did bring them down to a more moderate speed. This success was echoed by the Ra- information which said that “speeders WILL slow down up to 80% of the time.” Continuing, “Typical average speed reductions are 10-20%, and overall compliance with the posted speed limit will increase by 30-60%.”

We might be years from speed cameras, and they might not even be right for your municipality. But radar signs have shown at least in one city the effectiveness in getting people to slow down and think about how fast they’re really going. It could be a life-saving thought.


CAT Burglars

Shelton helps thwart catalytic converter thefts

Despite recent strides in protecting car owners, catalytic converter thefts are still a problem. The Shelton Police Department has implemented a new tracking method to help residents feel safe in the event that their car is vandalized.

Why are people stealing these car parts instead of just the cars? And what do they do? For starters, catalytic converters are an important part of the emissions control in your vehicle. They take pollutants and convert them into natural gases and other common – and safe – chemicals.

In order to do this, they use “metallic catalysts” such as rhodium, palladium, and platinum to perform these chemical reactions. And this explains why they are being stolen. According to an article in USA Today, rhodium can fetch as much as $20,000 per ounce, with the other two reaching around $3,000 and $1,000 per ounce respectively.

Thefts of catalytic converters in-

creased by 325% over the pandemic, according to that USA Today article, and Connecticut was no exception.

Rather than stealing a whole car, catalytic converters are easy to transport and aren’t easily trackable – but Shelton’s system will help in identifying these parts on the black market.

The CATGUARD/CATEtch system is a sticker that you apply to your catalytic converter that registers your cars part to a law enforcement database. Scrap dealers are able to access this system as well to ensure that if a part is being sold, it’s being sold intentionally.

One of the drawbacks of a sticker though is that you would be able to remove it. This system has a unique technology that renders that criticism moot.

According to their website:

“Two ultra-destruct labels, laser cut with a unique code and the URL of a secure, accredited data-

base - the International Security Register (ISR) – are applied to a catalytic converter and will break into pieces If an attempt is made to remove them. In addition, a fluid that etches into metal is applied to the labels so that even if they are removed, the code and URL will remain clearly readable.”

Shelton purchased these kits for residents, 150 of them, and decided to start with seniors in town. They hope that in addition to helping catch thieves after the fact, the stickers will be a sign to prevent the theft in the first place.

While folks can still drive their cars without the catalytic converter, it can be noisy and would likely cause the car to fail an emissions test. Not only that, but they are expensive to replace. Today, this aftermarket system is a great start, and the Shelton Police Department is helping out their seniors by getting them in first. Perhaps one day, car manufacturers will install a system like this on the production line.

A catalytic converter is an exhaust emission control device that converts toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction.


In Case Of Emergency

Locals in East Hartford learn to respond in basic training course

In times of emergency, the public needs to be involved in some capacity. If an area needs to be avoided, you can’t just tell the emergency responders. Sometimes, you might even need the help of citizens to coordinate after a disaster as a social network to get that info out. But you don’t want just any ol’ person doing that heavy lifting. For their part, East Hartford is offered a free community emergency response training this past fall.

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic Training Course was held for 25 students over 10 consecutive weeks, starting in September.

From resources obtained on the town’s website, “CERT is a program that educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that might impact their area and trains residents on basic disaster response skills.”

The idea for CERT came from way out west. In 1985, the Los Angeles Fire Department developed the idea in order to help them quickly and efficiently respond to disasters like the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake.

As East Hartford said, that idea was good enough to travel all the way back east because it “makes good sense and furthers the process of citizens understanding their responsibility in preparing for disaster.”

The benefit of CERT Is manifold. Although the team of civilians might not be equipped to handle the worst case scenarios, that’s what the emergency responders are for. Police, Fire, EMS responders are the experts on these tasks. But having trained civilians equipped to manage smaller tasks, the experts can be freed up to focus on the “most critical emergencies.”

Individuals that wanted to apply for the class didn’t need any previous experience, as they were brought through the courses with a combination of hands-on training as well as in-class instruction. The course culminates in a drill that makes use of all that they learned over the two and a half months.

No one is sure when the next disaster might strike. In fact, earthquakes have become more frequent in Connecticut. Training residents respond to these disasters is simply good sense.


A Learning Opportunity

Scary tactic helps Windham to get ahead of the curve

There is nothing scarier than a school lockdown. And in 2022, unscrupulous individuals are taking advantage of that by calling in vague threats – colloquially known as “swatting.” After recent incidents in which several Connecticut schools were swatted, Windham announced they were going to use these incidents to “evaluate their procedures.”

Somewhere between a bomb threat and prank phone call, swatting is when an individual tricks emergency services into believing that there is an active shooter. This prompts the police and other services to send large amounts of officers – and generally their SWAT teams if they have them – to the location. Victims include individuals or in this case, institutions.

In late October, nearly twenty schools across the state were subjected to swatting.

The effect is one of instilling fear in the students and faculty, and often disrupting an entire school in the cruelest way possible.

Willimantic Police have been working with the Windham Public School staff, according to an article from the Willimantic Chronicle, “in

an effort to improve safety response protocols, communication, staff training, trauma support and facility safety.”

While, they say they can’t stop people from making these veiled threats, they can prepare to react to them responsibly.

In addition to updating safety and security protocols, they are also going to enact the following measures, per the Chronicle:

• The district is in the process of ordering panic buttons and blue lights for each of the school buildings.

• The Community Occupational and Remote Education (CORE)/ Assisted Work Program (AWP) building recently received a new security system.

• Willimantic Police Det. Keith Edele offered a training session on “Run, Fight & Hide,” strategies used when gunshots can be seen and/or heard within a school building. Future sessions are being planned with school staff.

• Connecticut Project Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education (AWARE) Coordinator Tanya Fleeting offered a session about de-escalation techniques and strategies that would help teachers support students in crisis. Project AWARE is a program run by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

• A staff training session is being planned that will educate staff about Physical and Psychological Management Training and De-escalation Techniques. It will be held outside contractual hours and staff will be compensated for their time.

• School district staff are researching potential partnerships with agencies that can offer trauma-related support for students and staff, such as The Village for Families & Children in Hartford, My People Clinical Services in Hartford and Bensinger Dupont & Associates.

• Upon the recommendation of Willimantic Police Chief Paul Hussey, the school district sent staff to a presentation about Mutualink 360, a public safety communications system, at Eastern Connecticut State University on Thursday.

• Youngberg has been speaking with Hussey about the possibility of an additional school resource officer (SRO) in the future. Currently, the high school has an SRO.

• Window/door blinds and additional keys will be ordered and minor facility repairs will be made.

• School district staff will implement a process through which police can identify classrooms from the outside of a building.

• Upon the request of Willimantic Police, police can now access the school buildings more easily in an emergency.

• New intercom systems, clocks and security cameras have been obtained.

In an era where threats of school violence cannot be taken lightly, it seems that emergency responders will have to be vigilant. In these cases, a prank call must be treated exactly like the real thing. Taking steps as Windham has is crucial for the safety of our schools.



Another Story About Bears

State warns folks on how to deal with bears in CT municipalities

It seems like every other day there is a new story about some encounter with a bear in Connecticut. That’s no surprise since bears have been reported in nearly every municipality in Connecticut, and the population of black bears has been increasing according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). But that doesn’t mean danger is imminent, and there are some simple tactics and resources that can be shared with residents to keep them – and the bear – safe. DEEP suggest that the main thing attracting bears to homes is food – something anyone who has a seen a Yogi Bear cartoon could tell you. Like many animals that we intentionally feed, birds at a bird feeder for example, bears can get used to having an easy food source available. Having trash, pet food, or even birdseed can be tempting for bears, leading to many bears becoming what is known as “food-conditioned.” This means that they seek out these human adjacent food sources, bringing them in close contact with humans.

In their suggested tips, the first tip is to never feed bears intentionally or accidentally. Removing birdfeeders, storing garbage securely, keeping grills clean are all common sense tactics that avoid giving bears a food source.

Another common-sense tactic that should be extremely obvious is to leave bears alone should you see one. But with social media and aiming to get a video or pic to share, some folks might get a little too close to the animals. Left alone, DEEP says, the bears will wander back into the woods, stressed out and bears might veer into more heavily populated areas out of confusion.

In all likelihood, if you see a bear near your home, both you and the

bear will be scared. But as DEEP states, “the mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal.” But letting the department know is important so that they may track population changes and assess territories where they are commonly reported. Connecticut residents can do so by visiting the DEEP online reporting website. Or sending an email to

Seeing a bear outdoors in Connecticut is not all that shocking. Like almost all other animals, that’s

where they live. And with an estimated 1000 plus black bears living in Connecticut alone, most of the time they live peacefully in their own niche. In those few instances where they do come face to face with humans, it is incumbent upon the person to act responsibly.

To pass these tips on to your residents, have them visit the DEEP website, which gives an in-depth look at how to safely avoid bear confrontations.

Be BearWise


Six Outdoor BearWise Basics

Stay Alert & Stay Together

Pay attention to your surroundings and stay together. Walk, hike, jog, or cycle with others when possible. Keep kids within sight and close by. Leave earbuds at home and make noise periodically so bears can avoid you.

Leave No Trash or Food Scraps

Double bag your food when hiking and pack out all food and trash. Don’t burn food Leaving scraps, wrappers, or even “harmless” items like apple cores teaches bears to associate trails and campsites with food.

Keep Dogs Leashed

Letting dogs chase or bark at bears is asking for trouble; don’t force a bear to defend itself. Keep your dogs leashed at all times or leave them at home.

Camp Safely

Set up camp away from dense cover and natural food sources. Cook as far from your tent as possible. Do not store food, trash, clothes worn when cooking, or toiletries in your tent. Store in approved bear-resistant containers OR out of sight in locked vehicle OR suspended at least 10 feet above the ground and 10 feet from any part of the tree. Local regulations vary.

Know What To Do If You See a Black Bear

If you see a bear before it notices you, don’t approach. Stand still, enjoy, then quietly move away. If a bear sees you,back away slowly. Never run; running may trigger a chase response. If a bear approaches,hold your ground, wave your arms and yell “Hey Bear” until it leaves. Stay with your group. If it keepsapproaching, use bear spray. If a black bear makes contact with you

Carry Bear Spray & Know How To Use It

a bear that threatens you. It doesn’t work like bug repellent, so never spray your tent, campsite or belongings. Black bear is a species; common colors include black, brown and cinnamon.

Learn More:

An Eye On Crime

License Plate Readers come to Stamford

Advances in technology inform the way we do everything. For those with careers in public safety, technology has aided in solving crimes. From fingerprinting to DNA, technologies have aided the police in closing cases. Throughout the city of Stamford, a new technology will do the same by installing license plate readers or LPRs.

From a release on the new technology, the city cites data that says that seventy percent of crimes committed involve a vehicle. And whether the crime was related to driving or the car was simply used as a conduit in the crime, the use of a car is a key piece of evidence.

License Plate Readers (LPRs) will help identify those pieces of evidence, and through the 30 locations that will eventually be part of the system, they can create a full picture of where a car used in a crime are going. And although car thefts appear to be down from a pandemic increase, they have seen intense scrutiny from the public and media. Technology like this can prevent the worst outcomes of these incidents.

According to an article on the early results of this system, over 20 incidents were able to be resolved

because of information garnered by the LPRs. This isn’t to say that these systems are universally beloved. As with many of the newer technologies, there are those who fear the more nefarious uses and limitations of these technologies.

A decade ago, legislative analysts looked into these technologies to see if any other states or countries banned them on the basis of these fears. While New Hampshire, Maine, and New Jersey at the time had measures meant to rein in their use, in all cases, it didn’t prevent the usage of LPRs, only when and who they can be used by and for how long.

But thanks to advances in video capture and retainment, towns and cities are investing in public safety measures utilizing this technology. From LPRs to networks of doorbell cameras and even the body cameras that police will be wearing, video will be a crucial tool in solving crimes.

With this new program, Stamford can safely assess data and use this information in a way that will improve the safety for the city’s residents.



Protecting Our Children

Madison Public Schools put on “Campus Shield”

There’s no doubt that children’s safety is a top priority in our public schools, equal to the charge of educating them. But the question of what measures to put in place in 2023 is different than at any other time in history. Madison public schools adopted Campus Shield as one facet of response in their public schools.

Manufactured by National Protective Systems, Inc. (NPSI), Campus Shield is a panic button system not unlike those you would imagine as part of a bank’s safety system. The system works on RF technology – the same kind used by first responders – but just because this technology has been used before doesn’t mean that this idea isn’t innovative. In fact, Madison Public Schools is the first school district in the country to install Campus Shield according to a press release from the company and town.

And there’s a lot of thought that went into this decision: through regular evaluation of safety systems, Madison was looking for a technology that was more reliable than an aging system of hard-wired panic buttons, but many of the most popular alternatives didn’t match their high expectations.

The two most popular alternatives, Phone Apps and WiFi systems, were considered unreliable from the outset. Like so many places, cell coverage is inconsis-

tent and there could be no risk of a cry for help going unsent because of a lack of coverage. WiFi networks suffer some of the same inconsistencies as cell phone networks, and the off-chance that power was cut to them, they’d fail altogether.

Fortunately, RF technology is a consistent communication tool. That is precisely why it is trusted by first responders across the country. NPSI also says that it has a few other benefits such as reliable GPS, easy single press usage, and zero interference on town or school networks.

Tom Scarice, Superintendent of Madison Public Schools said, “We selected Campus Shield because we found it addressed the main concerns we had with competitive systems: reliability and ease of activation. “We now know that no matter where you are on campus, even under extreme duress, help is one press of a button away.”

This is the peace of mind Madison public schools was looking for in choosing a response system. Within seconds, the Madison Police dispatch enter will receive the request for help.

In a crisis, time is a valuable resource. With Campus Shield, Madison Public Schools will garner precious response time.


What Is DEI In 2023?

Sustainable CT Marlborough holds wide-ranging discussion on issues

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work like Democracy itself is a continual practice. It must keep asserting itself, or else it runs the risk of disused. Sustainable CT Marlborough recently did the work of recognizing the need to discuss sensitive subjects and grow as a community.

Their DEI presentation held in late February began with a few disclaimers – including the facts that they would be discussing sensitive and uncomfortable subjects, but that they were not condemning residents as racist or lacking in compassion. The goal, for them, was to educate in order to move forward.

For years, it was easy enough to exist without having many of these difficult conversations, to not move forward. But as we entered a new century, and through movements like Black Lives Matter, it has been clear that equity is good for a community.

They state this eloquently in the presentation:

“It is healthy for a community as a whole government and its residents to perform an internal self-evaluation of its delivery of services, goals, policies, practices, ordinances & regulations, to position the community to be more equitable, resilient and sustainable moving forward.”

And throughout the extensive presentation, Sustain-

able CT Marlborough tackled many definitions – what is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion after all? Who are the disadvantaged groups in our community? What is white privilege?

One interesting element is the conversation on Conscious and Unconscious Bias. Understanding that hatred exists in a world of conscious bias is one thing, but recognizing that we can form unconscious biases through social conditioning is another. Harvard has extensively studied this issue and has even developed an online tool that can show how these implicit biases creep in.

Their dedication is our inspiration.

Whether its conscious or unconscious, intolerance is still a part of our every day lives. In the presentation, they list a series of recent events that showed this, and some happened just weeks before.

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One DEI meeting will not stop hatred, will not stop implicit bias. It is only through continually seeking to name and educate that we can move forward as communities. They are the cornerstones that will help move us forward, in our towns, our state, and our nation. Work that is done in places like Marlborough is a sign that people are willing to do the work – no matter how uncomfortable it might be for them – to make their world a little bit better for everyone.

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Hello Dolly

New Britain is joining Imagination Library Program

Whatever Dolly Parton put in her “cup of ambition,” must have been strong stuff since she’s made it her cause to help every child in America read through her Imagination Library. With partners throughout the country - and worldwide - she just might be able to do it. With programs already located in several Connecticut municipalities, a new branch is opening in New Britain. Parton’s program is simple. Launching in 1995, her organization gave books to children living in Sevier County, Tennessee, where the singer grew up. Each month, no matter the income of the family, from birth to age five, children get the books mailed free. By the year 2000, it became clear that the success of this program was replicable on a national scale. In 2020, the program was piloted in Hartford, and now thousands of children are enrolled there, equating to more than 80,000 books distributed per information from a Hartford Courant article. It is supported by the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. Thanks to funding secured by Representative Jahana Hayes, that program is now expanding to New Britain. The Imagination Library was inspired by Dolly Parton’s roots. In a letter to supporters she said that her father considered the Imagination Library the most important thing she had ever done. A heartwarming, but also tragic fact, considering that Dolly states that her father’s inability to read “kept him from fulfilling all of his dreams.”

While this might seem like a problem from the past, today, 25 million children still cannot read proficiently.

Only 37% of students graduate high school at or above reading proficiency for their age. This problem, like so many education-related issues, became worse over the pandemic – from a study cited in a New York Times article on the subject said that reading levels have reached 20-year lows.

Recently, a bill was introduced to make Connecticut the 16th state to fund the program statewide, according to the Courant article, just after Californian voted to do the same.

Right now, just Hartford, Kent, Stratford, Stamford, Torrington have listings on the Imagination Library website.

If her father’s words ring true, then Dolly Parton, a titan of Country music, might be more remembered for her contributions to the education of children than for her songs. She was recently awarded a Carnegie Medal for her work in Philanthropy. For the thousands of children who have benefited from this program, they can spin one of her many classic records in her father’s honor.

“You can never get enough books into the hands of enough children.”

Aging Well

New organization aims to help municipalities with aging populations

Connecticut is getting older. Over the last decade, the average age of a CT resident has increased by a year. A confluence of reasons have caused this trend – outward migration, having fewer children and having them older. Whatever the cause, CT towns and cities will need to account for this demographic shift. The Connecticut Age Well Collaborative has released its first municipal resource guide to help towns and cities do just that.

The collaborative is a statewide initiative intended to educate key stakeholders about the issues of aging, especially as it relates to promoting equity.

“Our current systems and structures produce disparate outcomes for women, people of color, LGBTQ+ populations, low-income and rural older adults, including declining health at an earlier age, higher rates of social isolation, and economic life near or below poverty.”

The impact on Connecticut is particularly noticeable when you realize that nearly a quarter of the state’s population is over the age of 60 according to the collaborative, making Connecticut the seventh oldest state in the nation.

As noted, this trend is only going to go upward as the nation as a whole has. In 1960 for instance, the average age was around 29.5 thanks in part to the eponymous babies of the baby boom generation. By 2020, the av-

erage age in America is over 38 years old – the highest its ever been.

While towns and cities might not be able to control how people age – they can foster “livability” for an aging community. In areas of community and health care, transportation, housing, social participation, outdoor spaces and buildings, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, and communication and information, towns and cities can begin to address age-friendliness.

Through the series of resource guides, the Collaborative hopes to reframe the aging narrative with local governments, community stakeholders and residents. In addition to the resource guide series, they have made Community Profiles available for every town and city. They will indicate where your demographics are and key factors with aging.

Getting older is a privilege, but it is undoubtedly difficult to get old. Municipalities can help bring down barriers to aging and impact their residents’ lives in ways they might not even think are all that impactful. Through the Connecticut Age Well Collaborative, towns and cities will get firsthand expert advice on making our state a more livable place for everyone. For more information and to access the resource guide, you can visit

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Can We Just Be Civil?

Adapted from Skippy Mesirow, at NLC’s CitiesSpeak Blog

Many local leaders decided to sign our Civility Pledge, which we started at our 2022 Annual Convention. There’s a recognition that action is required to make our politics less toxic and threatening in order to get folks to engage.

This article, adapted from the National League of Cities CitiesSpeak Blog, offers points on how to deescalate tension and improve dialogue as elected leaders from Skippy Mesirow, Founder of the Elected Leaders Collective and Aspen City Councilperson. Follow this six-step-method and be empowered to reverse the trend. Results for your community will increase. When you are met with hostility:

1. Mind the Gap

Upon receiving incoming hostility, wait and listen deeply without thinking of your response. Let the speaker fully finish. Once they finish count to 5 in your head or take three deep breaths. Don’t worry, they will wait, and the silence will allow the respondent to settle and help them hear your words.

2. Ask a Question

Focus on the comment that triggered you most and inquire to clarify. A helpful prompt is “What I heard you say is ___, by this do you mean ____?”

3. Demonstrate Understanding

With your inquiry resolved and a dialog established, summarize the speaker’s perspective and rationale. Then ask, “am I understanding this correctly?”

4. Honor the Speaker

With shared understanding confirmed, thank the speaker from a genuine place. An example is “I appreciate you coming forward and sharing your valuable

time with us and respect your care for our community.” If there are elements of their comments you agree with, honor those, “I agree that _____.” Seek commonality no matter how small.

5. Share your Why

Now it is time for you to respond. Be honest, frank, transparent and share your rationale. “I hear what you are saying, I have taken it into account. With that…I believe this because _____.” Ask them if they can understand your perspective, if not agree. This will not always be possible. No matter what, thank them for engaging openly and honestly with you.

6. Follow Up

Find their contact information and thank them for their time at a later date. Close by opening the door to engage with you further on their terms.

Write these six bullets on a notecard and keep it in front of you at Council meetings to increase the likelihood of practicing this skill several fold.

It is this easy and it will take patience and perseverance. Don’t expect to get it right on the first or tenth try. Reactivity is normal and long entrenched patterns take time to unlearn. That’s OK, you’re human, so appreciate that in yourself. In practicing these six steps you will lower your stress, anxiety and burnout. You will provide a fruitful framework for others to follow. Your community will heal – slowly- and the results you seek in policy and outcomes will follow as a byproduct.

This is part of our work at the Elected Leaders Collective, an organization dedicated to ‘Healing our Politics”. We do mental health and well-being training for elected officials, staff and other mission-driven public sector workers. To learn more, visit them online at,

Hartford Branford Haddam Fairfield Milford Mystic Stonington Simsbury Windham Ansonia Ashford Avon Bantam Beacon Berlin Bethany Bethel Bloomfield Bolton Bozrah Bridgeport Bridgewater Bristol Broad Brook Brookfield Brooklyn Burlington Canton Chaplin Cheshire Chester Colchester Colebrook Collinsville Columbia Cornwall Coventry Cromwell Danbury Danielson Durham Eastford Easton Ellington Enfield Georgetown Glastonbury Greenwich Groton Guilford Hamden Higganum Killingworth Lebanon Ledyard Litchfield Madison Mansfield Marlborough Middlebury Middlefield Middletown Moodus Moosup Morris Naugatuck Newington Newtown Niantic Norfolk Norwalk Norwich Orange Plainfield Pomfret Poquonock Portland Prospect Putnam Redding Roxbury Salem Scotland Sharon Sherman Somers Southbury Southington Stafford Stamford Sterling Stratford Terryville Tolland Torrington Wallingford Waterbury Weston Willimantic Willington Winchester Winsted Wolcott Woodbury EastGranby EastHaddam EastHampton EastHaven EastLyme EastWindsor NewBritain NewCanaan NewFairfield NewLondon NewMilford NorthStonington SouthWindham SouthWoodstock WestHartford WestHaven OldSaybrook CIVILITY Hartford Granby Branford Haddam Hampton Fairfield Windham Ashford Avon Bantam Beacon Berlin Bethany Bethel Bloomfield Bolton Bridgewater Bristol Brookfield Burlington Chaplin Cheshire Chester Colebrook Collinsville Columbia Cromwell Danbury Darien Durham Eastford Enfield Georgetown Glastonbury Greenwich Groton Guilford Hamden Higganum Killingworth Ledyard Litchfield Madison Mansfield Marlborough Meriden Middletown Montville Moodus Naugatuck Newington Newtown Niantic Norfolk Norwich Pawcatuck Plainfield Pomfret Portland Prospect Redding Rocky Salem Salisbury Scotland Sharon Sherman Southbury Southington Stafford Stamford Stratford Terryville Thompson Tolland Torrington Trumbull Voluntown Wallingford Waterbury Waterford Watertown Westport Willimantic Winsted Wolcott Woodbridge EastGranby EastHaddam EastHampton EastHaven EastWindsor NewCanaan NewLondon NewMilford NorthStonington SouthWindham SouthWindsor SouthWoodstock WestHartford WestHaven WestSimsbury OldSaybrook CIVILITY Hartford Branford Canaan Haddam Hampton Milford Mystic Stonington Simsbury Andover Ansonia Ashford Avon Bantam Barkhamsted Beacon Bethany Bethlehem Bloomfield Bozrah Bridgeport Bridgewater Brooklyn Canterbury Canton Chaplin Cheshire Clinton Colchester Colebrook Columbia Cornwall Coventry Cromwell Danbury Danielson River Derby Easton Ellington Essex Farmington Goshen Groton Guilford Harwinton Hebron Kent Killingworth Lebanon Ledyard Litchfield Madison Manchester Middlebury Middlefield Middletown Monroe Moodus Moosup Morris Newington Niantic Norfolk Norwalk Oakville Orange Oxford Plainville Plymouth Pomfret Portland Preston Prospect Putnam Redding Ridgefield Rocky Roxbury Scotland Seymour Sharon Shelton Sherman Somers Southington Stamford Sterling Suffield Terryville Thomaston Thompson Trumbull Washington Waterbury Watertown Wauregan Westbrook Weston Wethersfield Willimantic Willington Wilton Winchester Wolcott Woodbury EastGranby EastHaddam EastHampton EastHartford EastHaven EastLyme NewBritain NewCanaan NewFairfield NewHartford NewHaven NewMilford NorthBranford NorthHavenNorthGranbyNorthGrosvenordale NorthStonington WestHartford WestHaven OldLyme OldMystic OldSaybrook CIVILITY If you’re interested in CCM’s Civitlity Pledge, visit

50/50 Campaigns Goals Are 100%

East Hartford realizes a more equitable democracy through programming

The goal of realizing a more equitable democracy is spreading. Towns and cities are realizing the need for increased racial and gender representation in their ranks in order to create a more equitable democracy. In a new initiative, East Hartford is partnering with the Hartford Region YWCA on a 50/50 Campaign to increase civic participation amongst marginalized communities.

The 50/50 Campaign was spearheaded by the YWCA Hartford Region as “an initiative to promote gender equity and racial diversity on municipal boards and commissions.”

They provide education for community members and encourage them to “participate in the decision-making process, and help improve the quality of life for women, those who identify as women, children, and people of color.”

The 50/50 name stems from their efforts to focus 50% on working with municipalities to reform policies, processes and practices to make them more equitable, and 50% on the community to ensure their voices are heard.

Currently, they are piloting this program with the City of Hartford, the Town of Bloomfield, and the Town of East Hartford.

In a public notice about the program, East Hartford encouraged folks to apply for several positions in town. These included Board vacancies on Planning and Zoning, Economic Development, Inland-Wetlands, Commission on Service for People with Disabilities, and Commission on Culture on Fine Arts. They created a very brief infographic – just six easy steps – to become a board member.

The 50/50 Campaign was in part devised as an answer to the passage of Public Act No. 21-49, that itself responded to the Secretary of

M a k e s u r e y o u a r e a r e g i s t e r e d v o t e r t o a p o l i t i c a l p a r t y .

g f i r s t !

F i l l o u t t h e E x p r e s s i o n o f I n t e r e s t f o r m a t w w w . e a s t h r t f o r d c t . g o v / b c a p p l y

R e t u r n i t t o t h e M a y o r ' s O f f i c e o r y o u r p o l i t i c a l p a r t y c h a i r .

R e c e i v e t h e e n d o r s e m e n t o f y o u r p o l i t i c a l p a r t y

B e v o t e d o n b y t h e T o w n C o u n c i l

the State’s Report on Gender and Racial Composition of Connecticut State Boards and Commissions in mid-2020.

CCM believes deeply in this mission. In that same year, CCM began its CCM CARES series which raised the voices of local officials of color. In turn, we partnered with the Campaign School at Yale University for Representation Matters. It is in its third year, helping hundreds of interested folks learn the ins and outs of running for office or serving on boards or commissions.

This is one of the most crucial proj-

G e t s w o r n i n a t t h e T o w n C l e r k ' s O f f i c e t o b e c o m e a v o t i n g m e mb e r o f y o u r c h o s e n B o a r d & C o m m i s s i o n .

ects in Connecticut and the country right now. The 50/50 Campaign quotes the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to congress, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

It is about time that we started making the table bigger and more inclusive and stopped making people bring their folding chairs. Thanks to efforts like the 50/50 Campaign and its pilot partners, there’s more people than ever working to make that table as inclusive as ever.

V O L U N T E E R W I T H U S ! J O I N A B O A R D O R C O M M I S S I O N I N 6 E A S Y S T E P S : V i s i t t h e t o w n w e b s i t e a t w w w . e a s t h a r t f o r d c t . g o v / b o a r d s t o v i e w v a c a n c i e s I f y o u f i n d o n e t h a t i n t e r e s t s y o u , f e e l f r e e t o a t t e n d a m e e t i n

In Praise of Fridays

Is a four-day workweek inevitable?

While it has been well documented that the pandemic has reshaped our relationship with the digital and physical spaces, not much has been said about what that means long-term for those physical spaces and our need to be in them. Even before 2020, towns were starting to adopt a four-day workweek, but does this make even more sense in a post-COVID world?

According to an article in the Atlantic, from 2014, the time between the first five-day workweek – back in 1908 – and the first call for an even shorter workweek –by 1928 – was about 20 years. A Senate subcommittee predicted a 14-hour workweek, and Richard Nixon even called for a four-day workweek as Vice President “to improve American families’ lives.”

So the history of a four-day workweek is long, but the means to this end have been long in the making. If you were to eliminate one day from the workweek, it would logically be one of the days attached to the weekend, and most likely the Friday, even if only arbitrarily. In fact, this is the day that towns like Ellington will be tacking off as they move towards a four-day schedule, “backed by their observations that Fridays are the slowest of the week,” as noted in a recent article from the Courant.

The big change comes from the fact that more and

more individuals are able to accomplish online what once would have necessitated a trip to a town or city hall. It was John Maynard Keynes who made the prediction in 1928 that within 100 years, technology would drastically decrease the workweek. While the technology to enable this has been around for years, we are just now reaching a point where, thanks to COVID, there is a mass-adoption of these tools.

Ellington for their part will not be decreasing the hours worked, despite decreasing the days worked. Employees will still be expected to work what is known as a compressed work schedule, by extending the hours on the four days they are open. This will allow residents the chance to work their jobs and still make a needed trip to town hall.

It is noted that some of these experiments resulted in increased productivity and efficiencies, some see the adoption as a perk in a time when it is difficult to attract new employees.

Whatever the reasoning, more towns and cities continue to adopt the four-day workweek. And it is telling that those that do, do not turn back to the five-day workweek. Thanks to advances, some in just the last three years, it’s now possible to do just about anything anywhere.


Remembering, Not Repeating Plaque in New London memorializes sad chapter in history

It is said that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, often when recollecting the darker chapters of our history. Called the “longest crime against humanity,” the Atlantic Slave Trade is a chapter that cannot be forgotten. In partnership with the UNESCO Routes of Enslaved Peoples project, New London is establishing a memorial plaque on the Amistad Pier. Long associated with maritime navigation and the whaling trade, the Connecticut coast was also home to ports where enslaved Africans were sold to merchants and farmers throughout Connecticut prior to its abolition in 1848. This plaque will commemorate the arrival of the Speedwell in 1761, which ported in New London for several days before making its way to Middletown. Although Connecticut is not as linked to the Atlantic Slave Trade as southern ports, the pier on which the plaque sits is named after the Amistad and the revolt of the captives on board. Although they were successful in escaping the boat, they were caught and eventually imprisoned in New Haven. An ensuing legal battle that rose to the Supreme Court eventually gave back the men their freedom.

Despite the abolition of slavery in Connecticut – the last state in New England to do so – by the end of the 1840s, it leaves behind a legacy of inequity and racism in its wake. One version of Connecticut’s constitution explicitly forbade African-Americans from voting, while red-lining and race-restrictive covenants made Connecticut one of the most segregated states to this day. New London for its part has taken the incredible steps of laying out a Black Heritage Trail, which “celebrates three centuries of Black strength, resilience, and accomplishment.” Some of the 15 sites include the Ichabod Pease school for black children, the home of

Linwood Bland, Jr., the location of Dart’s Hall where Frederick Douglass gave a series of lectures, and the home of Sarah Harris Fayerweather, one of the subjects of the mural in Norwich.

Acknowledging this ugly past, not erasing it, will allow us to begin to move forward. This includes acknowledging the estimated 40 million people that are in modern slavery, according to figures by the International Labor Organization. Failure to recognize the “longest crime against humanity,” and the historical role Connecticut played in it does a disservice to our goals of more equitable future. New London’s memorial will ensure that this past is not forgotten, nor repeated.


SOCIAL WELFARE Five Strategies For Hiring Diverse Talent

As we look forward once again to Representation Matters, we know that Connecticut’s towns and cities are looking to include their increasingly diverse constituents in local governance. And with so many openings in municipal governance, one measure towns and cities can take is making sure that they are attracting diverse talent. Julia Bauer and Nya Anthony writing for the National League of Cities shared these five strategies for attracting diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) candidates when hiring: Here are NLC’s top five strategies for advancing DEIA in hiring:

1. Advance DEIA Through a Designated Department and Staff:

As municipalities work to advance DEIA in their organization, they should consider establishing a designated DEIA department and/or leader to be compensated for their work in this space. By having a designated department, municipal leaders can lead to better coordination across departments and alleviate pressure from BIPOC staff to educate their peers on implementing DEIA in their work.

2. Ensure Diverse Candidates Apply for Local Government Positions:

When looking to increase the diversity of their municipal workforce, local leaders should look for ways to recruit applicants through multiple methods. Additional recruitment strategies include posting jobs on multiple recruitment platforms or promoting flexible application requirements, such as accepting years of experience for postgraduate degree requirements, or thoughtfully assessing whether postgraduate degrees are necessary for the job at all. Other methods include setting goals for increasing the diversity for specific roles, such as the 30×30 initiative which advances the representation of women in all policing ranks across the US.

3. Be Transparent about Workforce Data and Trends:

As municipal leaders evaluate their workforces for growth opportunities, they should have access to their current workforce trends. To improve transparency about local government workforce trends, municipalities can share their workforce data publicly for resident access, potentially leading to increased resident trust. Additionally, municipal leaders should increase transparency by sharing workforce trend data across government agencies, such as libraries, schools, and more. Once municipal leaders understand their trends, they can take steps to plan their goals and implement

measures for success. These steps include conducting assessments, setting achievable metrics for organizational diversity, and implementing DEIA training for all departments.

4. Consider DEIA in Compensation and Employee Benefits:

Municipal governments may improve retention rates among diverse candidates by providing competitive compensation packages and other non-wage benefits, including opportunities for remote work, professional development, childcare and public service loan forgiveness (PSLF). By incorporating these benefits, local governments could better appeal to a variety of applicants and improve employee retention.

5. Provide Feedback Opportunities and Listen to Employees of Color:

Human resource (HR) practices that promote DEIA go beyond hiring and should be woven throughout the employment process for local governments. Opportunities for staff feedback should be regularly provided and can take the form of workplace culture reviews and pathway examinations for employees to advance in the organization. Additionally, feedback should be captured by employees who transition out of the organization. Exit interviews provide a unique opportunity for employers to gain insight into an employee’s experiences in their role.

CCM to soon offer Diversity & Inclusion Training to Connecticut Municipal Officials starting in 2023. More Details to Follow.

New Website Opens City

Manchester renovates website space for better utility

Manchester Websites have certainly evolved over the past 30 years. One remembers the lo-fi look of the early web with its HTML-heavy look and the only thing that moved was a baby that danced. Today, you have to stay agile, and keep up with the times like the Town of Manchester who recently debuted a new website. Designed in collaboration with OpenCities, the goal of the new website was to make accessing the tools on their website simple and easy for everyone.

Simple logos make it visually engaging but easy to parse – a garbage can stands in for residential collection, a credit card for online payments, and a basketball for recreation programs.

In a release from the town’s magazine, Better Manchester, Mayor Jay Moran said “We are so proud to present this newly designed website! From Board meetings to dog

licenses, the new website will make it easier for you to stay informed and get things done,

“This website aims to be a reliable source for community news, events, information, and more.”

Here’s a list of all the new features that they listed as benefits in the Better Manchester release:

• Translations integration, allows users to find information in the language they are able and most comfortable reading.

• ADA compliance ensures the website is fully accessible to all.

• Thoughtful navigation, improved search capabilities, and clean homepage tasks make it easy for users to find what they need.

• Parks & Facilities locator connects town buildings and spaces with programming, events, and more.

• Form integrations make for easier online registration, payments, sign-ups, and more.

• Flexible CMS (Content Management System) which provides the capabilities to adapt to new technologies, website design, and more.

• And MANY more.

Like so many other facets of our life, a website has become a much more crucial part of our “new normal.” Over the pandemic, residents became accustomed to finding resources online without access to town halls across the state. And the convenience of paying bills online, finding and submitting forms online, and reading up on all the town news was too hard to pass up.

We are well into the era where having a website is an essential function of running a local government. But now is the time to leave the Web 1.0 sites behind, and enter a new era of functionality and responsiveness. With so many partners that towns can join up with, there’s no reason to be living in the past.


There’s An App For That

Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce promotes Hamden App

You have an app for everything else – then why not for where you spend most of your hometown? Hello Hamden is the latest example of a town moving into the virtual world, hoping to not just inform residents and visitors about goings-on, but to help promote local businesses at the same time.

A project of the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce, the app is a move to bring information to the people. While web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are still the dominant forms of accessing the internet, more and more people are turning to dedicated apps on their phones for information.

Think of Facebook and Twitter where people congregate and talk to each other, Instagram and Tik Tok which have turned into video streaming apps, Uber Eats and GrubHub where people see what restaurants are open.

According to Nancy Dudchik, President of the Chamber, quoted in a New Haven Register article, only Darien and Mystic have apps like Hamden. (Although, further research showed apps for other cities that might have gone live since this interview.)

Broken down into four categories, individuals can nav-

igate between Eat, Shop, Play, or Live/Work/Stay tabs. The former breaks down food into different categories like style of dining (family-friendly or fine dining). Shop has resources for everything from antiques to farms. While the app is free for anyone to download, there are some costs associated for businesses that want to advertise or enhance their presence on the app.

Armstrong Software, the company that is credited with listing the app on the Apple store, has created apps for dozens of localities around the country – from RV Parks to Resorts to whole counties.

Under the banner of “App My Community,” the company “builds customized mobile apps dedicated to promoting the individual branding and amenities of any type of community.”

With more than a dozen customizable features, the company looks to make its app as intuitive and usable as possible no matter what the needs are of the town or city.

And in 2023, people might not be bringing up a website anymore – they might just be bringing up one of their many apps on their phone. With a different app for nearly everything you do, why not have an app for that?


Not Quite Robocops

VR tech helps New London officer through difficult training

Though it came out 35 years ago, there was something to be said about how RoboCop predicted the integration of technology and crime fighting. We’ve written about doorbell cameras helping link evidence together, tracking devices straight out of a James Bond movie, and more, but New London has taken it a step further. A step further into virtual reality where officers can now simulate training in the Metaverse.

From a report in the New London Day, the local police department was able to pick up a Department of Justice grant to fund the APEX Officer virtual reality simulator. According to the article, the whole set up originally cost nearly $100,000, but the department was able to acquire the system at a steep discount covered by the grant.

Like so many other occupations, Police Officers need training on what it feels like to be in the field. Compare this to pilots who now benefit from hours of flight simulation before they take the controls of sophisticated aircraft. In much the same way, officers can benefit from real world simulation without the risk of having to wait for a real-world situation to occur.

It’s clear from the arguments around the Police Accountability Bill that officers are often required to walk a tight line. They are required to de-escalate situations where the other person is not willing to or able to comply.

The virtual reality simulator teaches “non-violent strategies and techniques,” and will help ensure compliance with the Accountability Bill.

In the article from the Day, Sgt. Matt Cassiere said that the system is “not a game,” but can hold some real valuable lessons for cadets and officers.

In the simulation, one trainer controls the simulation from another room, while the trainees don the headsets that place them into virtual reality. Once inside, they can interact with the simulated world and go through the training. And while this system provides a safe space for officers to train in, it’s still not completely safe: additional individuals need to be present to stop the trainees from walking into things.

This might all seem futuristic, but adopting new technologies in training can make officers more equipped in the here and now. With the Police Accountability Bill, it’s important that officers have the right resources to succeed in the field, even in the most difficult situations. New London, as the first in the state, is taking that first technological leap.

In the article from the Day, Sgt. Matt Cassiere said that the system is “not a game,” but can hold some real valuable lessons for cadets and officers.

Stay Safe On The World Wide Web

Naugatuck PD held information session on internet safety for families

Accessing the internet can’t be a more personal act. You are generally using a device by yourself – a computer, a tablet, a smartphone – and yet you are connected to billions of other individuals. It is incumbent on individuals then to protect themselves on the web. But what about children? The Naugatuck Police Department held an informational session for parents to help keep their kids safe on the web. Held in person in February, the event invited parents to come in and learn about safety measures for parents to consider for their children.

Never has there been a time when access to information and people been greater, but also never has it been more fraught with danger to have this great access. According to many studies teens that spend more time on social media have higher rates of isolation and depression. It’s also a place where children experience increased rates of bullying – with victims being more likely to be girls between the age of 12 – 17. The Justice Department has put together some tips to help protect children online. And the first measure is discussing internet safety and develop and online safe-

ty plan with children. Spotting red flags isn’t necessarily easy for adults, so some education is incumbent upon the parent as well.

There are several measures that can help – parental controls and privacy settings, setting boundaries for social media like age restrictions and time limits can be a healthy part of utilizing the internet. Make sure they are only interacting with sites and games that you feel comfortable with them using.

Explain to them that personal information, photos and videos, even those under handles (usernames) can stay on the internet permanently.

And most importantly, explain that no interaction online can be taken into the real world. While not everyone on the internet is a predator, it’s important to be alert to potential signs of abuse and predation. Incidents should be immediately reported to the authorities.

The Naugatuck Police Department is one such authority. By giving this informational session, they are showing they understand how important it is in 2023 to be safe online.


Parking Is A Breeze

Milford parking tech adds ease to beachgoers

Imagine you are sitting on a beach – the sun is warm, but there’s a cool breeze coming off the water. You’ve reached a good point in your book, when an alarm goes off. You need to feed the meter. In that moment, what would be worse than having to schlep back to the car? Milford is partnering with a mobility software company to make sure that ghastly story never happens to you.

In a recent press release from the Passport company, it was announced that the city is going to have a brand new app for contactless and mobile payment for parking at “more than 750 on and off-street spaces,” all in the Walnut and Gulf Beach areas.

These destinations are popular with folks from in town and beyond the borders, and they can now seamlessly integrate parking with their beach experience.

Like with many apps, it’s a simple account based system, where you input your name, email address, and license plate or parking space number depending on whether the spot is on street or in a lot. Because the system is entirely app-based, “users can extend sessions remotely and review parking history and receipts with just a few taps.”

“With Passport’s mobile parking app, visitors looking to spend time in our charming, coastal city can now experience seamless, user-friendly parking payments,” says Milford Police Chief Keith Mello. “In using Passport’s platform, we are digitizing our parking operations, which allows us to cater to the needs of our community and operate more efficiently on the backend by centralizing our mobility data.”

It’s on the backend where the data becomes crucial for enforcement operations. The police department


will be able to manage parking permits and parking enforcement through the same app that users can use to pay the meter.

Milford isn’t the only municipality in Connecticut that uses Passport. The press release notes that Manchester, Fairfield, and West Hartford, all use this same platform, while other cities use other services for their parking needs.

As with so many other facets of life, parking technology should be seamless and easy. It seems that as more people pay digitally, fewer and fewer folks will have change on them to feed the meter. Accepting this reality is simple. Milford is falling in line with so many other towns and cities to adopt mobile parking apps. And everyone at Walnut and Gulf beach thanks them.


High Quality Internet Is Coming

Towns and Cities can expect investment in coming years

After years of naming the issue, the United States Commerce Department is kicking off an investment in equitable broadband internet. This will be a boon to areas of need – particularly underserved urban areas and rural areas that have no access at all.

In what Senator Richard Blumenthal calls a “down payment,” the first grant is going to go to a planning phase where the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will study the needs and possible implementation of broadband needs.

The Office of Policy and Management (OPM) was charged last year with developing a “comprehensive map of broadband accessibility and adoption by December 1, 2022.”

From their work, it shows that major portions of Connecticut’s Northwest Corner simply does not have access to quality high speed internet, with pockets elsewhere in the state including some notable patches in the East.

CCM partnered with OPM on one facet of this study by surveying individuals through our network to better understand the barriers to high speed internet.

For some residents of Connecticut, the barrier isn’t just a lack of access – meaning their neighborhood isn’t served – but a lack of equitable access. Internet might be available in their area, but it is not affordable or it is slow and unreliable.

This early funding is a step in the right direction to helping our state reach full broadband access. And as noted, it is simply the start of funding. According to reporting from the CT Mirror, our state can expect $100 million in additional funding over the next five years. Quoted in their article, both Senator Blumenthal and the head of the National Technology and Information Administration said that the funding is contingent on learning how we are going to use it, with the latter explicitly saying “Before we write a $100 million check, we want to see a plan for how you’re going to spend it.”

Officials argued that simply getting internet connectivity to these underserved areas is not enough. Without the hardware to connect to the internet, connectivity alone is not useful. Around $750,000 is going to providing internet-enabled devices to “historically disenfranchised groups.”

This is an extremely important investment. As noted in the CT Mirror and several other sources, this movement to reach all of Connecticut with good quality high speed internet is akin to getting America electrified in the early 1900s. And, hopefully, one day we will look back in a time and place where everyone is connected and wondered how people lived without it. For more information on the OPM study, you can visit this website:


Rolling Out The Wire

New Britain’s new broadband partnership will speed up the city

In a recent Twitter Q&A, Governor Lamont was asked what exactly Connecticut is doing about broadband internet. While investments have been made on the state level, the City of New Britain has been rolling out updates on a new state of the art high-speed network that will make a huge impact in the city.

A groundbreaking partnership between GoNetSpeed of Rochester, New York and the city, they are building out a network of approximately 175 miles of fiber throughout the municipality at no cost to taxpayers since the project is being fully-funded by ARPA funds, to grants, as well as incentives from the provider.

In a press conference held in late June, Mayor Erin Stewart said, “We are thrilled to be the first community in the state to partner with GoNetspeed, in a public-private partnership, to effectively end the digital divide, increase ISP competition, and lower Internet costs for our residents.”

The project is slated to begin in January of next year, with a completion date of June, and it will link together many of the city’s buildings and cameras according to a press release on the matter.

Officials from New Britain said that this will be “future proof,” with the kind of scalability that many of the previous networks did not have. Older phone lines and then cable lines reached limits on capacity and speed, leaving many customers without access to modern network capacities.

This project will change all that, and at prices that many families can afford. For plans starting at $39.99 a month, these homes will have access to internet that can reach breakneck speeds without breaking the bank. At the press conference announcing the project, the

Mayor noted that for her own home, she has just one comparable option at nearly $250 a month.

Thanks to federal programs, eligible homes can receive up to $30 per month, meaning that fiber internet can be accessible to nearly every home in New Britain.

While New Britain might be the first to have this kind of partnership, it certainly will not be the only town bringing widespread internet to town. GoNetSpeed alone will be building out systems, with other providers joining in to expand quality high speed internet to every municipality in the state.

If the earliest stages of the pandemic have taught us anything, it’s that we are in a place where we rely upon connectivity. Thanks to projects like this one in New Britain, no one will be left behind.

Thomas Perrone, GoNetspeed chief operating officer, and New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart during a recent press conference to announce a new partnership to build a high-speed fiber internet network throughout the city.
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