NEWTOWN — The Fairfield Hills Authority, meeting Monday, June 22, agreed to send a letter of recommendation to the selectmen, describing their reaction to the Bike and Trails Committee presentation at the authority’s January 27 meeting.
At that time, committee chair Brid Craddock had proposed repurposing a section of Keating Farms Road as pedestrian use only.
The committee had suggested the restriction on motorized traffic to improve safety for pedestrians walking on the loop trail that runs parallel to the road, save mature trees that would be removed if the Parks and Recreation Department made grading changes to the trail and improve parking for horse trailers as equestrians access the trails located across Wasserman Way.
According to the presentation materials, the road closure could also reduce the problem of cars driving illegally on the trails.
Prior to its presentation, the Bike and Trails Committee met with Carl Samuelson, assistant director of the Parks and Recreation Department, to confirm support for the changes and the feasibility of installing a gate that is currently in storage.
The authority’s response expressed support for the ongoing upgrade and expansion to the bike trails surrounding the town and the Fairfield Hills campus.
However, the letter went on to describe the idea, “While we have supported in the past and continue to support a temporary closing for event use, we don’t feel it is in the town’s interest to follow their suggestion for a permanent closing of the road.”
Authority members had no changes to the draft that Chair Ross Carley had shared prior to the meeting and the approved letter will be presented to the Board of Selectmen at its next meeting.
In other business, Kimberly Chiappetta, economic and community development and Fairfield Hills coordinator, noted that she is keeping an eye on social distancing guidelines as it is unclear what they mean for public events on campus although the Farmers Market opened on June 23.
She also said the town secured a grant from the Economic Development Administration for the sanitary replacement project.
The grant will provide half the funding for the work that will replace the existing sanitary sewers that are approximately 90 years old, installing more efficient equipment.
Public Works Director Fred Hurley had drafted a request for proposals and Ms. Chiappetta said the next step will be engineering design.
She is excited by this move because a new system could attract tenants.
Christal Preszler, deputy director of economic and community development, pointed out that the outdoor space on campus is popular and the gardens are beautiful to enjoy.
Approvals have been obtained to use $49,000 to secure the buildings and she is consulting historic preservation resources to ensure that the securing activities do not damage any parts of the building that the town or tenants will want to keep.
She said, “The more secure [the buildings,] the better it will be for everyone.”
Mr. Carley agreed, describing the importance of the investment before the authority decided to attend a Police Commission meeting to discuss campus security with that group.
Ms Preszler noted there is interest from developers and the new micro-brewery in Stratford Hall, Newsylum Brewing Company, is open for outdoor and pickup service.