WATERTOWN — The Town Council, meeting Monday, January 4, unanimously appointed Joshua Bernegger as police chief with a salary of $129,000.

Town Manager Mark A. Raimo noted that the search for a new police chief began in October 2020.

The search committee unanimously recommended the promotion of the town’s deputy chief to the position of police chief.

Prior to the vote, council Lou Razza commended Mr. Bernegger’s work, especially his ability to run the police department following the departure of the last police chief.

The new police chief expressed his appreciation for everyone’s support after being sworn in to his new office.

During the meeting, the council approved an appropriation of $3,894 for police overtime. The funds will be reimbursed through a grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation for the distracted driving high visibility enforcement effort.

The council also modified the rent schedule for Sunset Grille at Crestbrook Park, reducing payments from $4,000 to $2,000 per month to address a request from the restaurant, which pointed out that the pandemic had reduced income.

The payments would be adjusted on June 1 to return to the full payment plus an additional amount to repay funds missed during the first half of 2021.

Council member Rachel Ryan referred to a comment made during public participation, which noted that Sunset Grille had added live music to the venue, which was a violation of its lease with the town and not brought to the town for approval or waiver.

Chair Mary Ann Rosa explained that the town is talking with the restaurant to resolve the issue and ensure that a permit would be put into place before any future concerts.

She said the town has a noise ordinance in place and that some neighbors had complained of the disturbance made by concerts.

Town Attorney Paul Jessell clarified that some outdoor activities were contemplated when the original lease was put in place.

He also pointed out a sum of money that the restaurant claims the town owes, adding that there is no documentation accompanying this claim. The payments after June 1 will include additional rent payments that had been missed while the restaurant could not conduct business.

In his report to the council, Mr. Raimo announced that a Covid-19 test site was set up at the high school, serving hundreds of people in two dates.

He is looking to set up additional test dates.

A plan is being enacted to vaccinate town employees.

Mr. Raimo has been holding meetings, including meetings with local businesses, to support economic development in Watertown and pointed to 1,200 new followers on Facebook. 

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