ROXBURY — The Board of Selectmen agreed to take the next steps to learn more on a solar project presented by Santa Energy that would offer the town renewable energy during its meeting on Tuesday, September 7.
Selectmen were hesitant to move forward due to a previous solar-related project falling through; however, agreed to move forward since the next steps will look into potential fatal flaws that may hinder the project. Two representatives from Santa Energy assured selectmen they will not waste their time.
Santa representative Andrew Keller explained the plan is to look into Roxbury’s aging infrastructure in order to update it. He said currently the town has old power lines and Santa wants leave the town better than when they came in. He said the town could potentially be running on renewable energy and could receive up to $50,000 by producing renewable energy.
Selectman Russell Dirienzo told the representatives he is in favor of solar, but was concerned the town may not be the best location for what Santa proposed since Roxbury does not have ground field sites.
Shepaug School was suggested as a spot to possibly collect solar energy. Selectmen were quick to note they would require permission from the two other Region 12 towns to use the school and did not think it was a viable option.
“Right now we are going to look for fatal flaws in our plans,” said Santa Energy representative Bill Ostrander. “There is a lot more work to be done.”
Mr. Keller assured the selectmen they are starting fresh and will not waste the town’s time if any flaws are found. The selectmen agreed Santa could do further research and come back with the findings.
First Selectman Barbara Henry told selectmen that NJR Construction LLC was awarded the Davenport project, but will not start work on the culvert until spring 2022. She said a band-aid project was completed that will help in the meantime, but NJR is in the process of getting ready for the spring.
She did note she was disappointed they were not able to start on the project sooner.
Ms. Henry announced the state has come forward and suggested a new program for the Wellers Bridge project. The state would take on the bidding process and look into engineering, according to Ms. Henry.
Selectman Jim Conway said the decking on the bridge needs to be repaired and the rebar is completely exposed.
There are three levels of repairs with level three being the most expensive and an overall bridge replacement, which selectmen agreed could be necessary. The bridge could possibly be closed down for four to six months for a bridge replacement and the new bridge would last for more than 50 years.
Ms. Henry said she was to meet state officials on Tueday, September 14, to learn more aboiut the program. The state would cover about 80 percent of the cost and the town would cover 20 percent.
She also explained Minor Bridge bids came back at exorbitant prices and the town plans to re-bid. The selectmen agreed to re-bid some time during the winter.
Ms. Henry went over the town’s census results. Population decreased by 24 percent in children and slightly in adults. The town’s current population sits at 2,260, a small decrease from 2,262. Ms. Henry called it surprising because there seemed to be an influx of people during Covid-19.
She noted the state population increased by more than 3,000 people with a majority in Fairfield County. Washington also gained more people.
She said these population increases and decreases will determine how to apportion legislative districts.
The selectmen agreed to allow Ms. Henry to sign a contract with the Western Connecticut Council of Governments that melds the Affordable Housing Authority and the Affordable Housing Plan Steering Committee together.