Town Manager: Town Hall may not open to the public anytime soon, state still has not reimbursed funds for Sucker Brook culvert project, town still looking at East End Park usage regulations

Winsted Town Seal
Winsted Town Seal

WINSTED — Due to the continuing Covid pandemic, Town Hall may not be reopening anytime soon, according to Town Manager Robert Geiger.
Geiger talked about the issues why Town Hall will remain closed during his report to the Board of Selectmen on Monday, April 5.
Geiger said he met with town Emergency Management Director Steven Williams about the possibility of reopening Town Hall to the public and for meetings.
At the April 5 selectmen’s meeting, Mayor Candy Perez said that she would like to have the building reopened to have in-person meetings as opposed to virtual meetings.
Over time, members of the board have complained about holding meetings virtually, both due to frequent technical difficulties and members who have said that information could be shared easier in an in-person setting.
“We would all like to open Town Hall if it is at all possible,” Geiger said. “The whole Council of Governments in the Northwest Region have been talking about trying to open [their town halls] and I think everyone shares the same concerns. We just don’t have everyone vaccinated yet and our employees are not comfortable with it all.”
Geiger added that “It’s been a weekly challenge to keep on top of Covid protocols as the state provides new information. But [Williams] does a very good job of being on top of this.”
In other business: Geiger said he is still working with the state Office of Policy and Management regarding a reimbursement for the Sucker Brook Culvert project.
He said that the town has still not received reimbursement for the project.
Back at the selectmen’s meeting on March 15, Geiger said that the state promised $128,000 in funding for the project, but the Department of Transportation (DOT) is “pushing back” on the town’s claim for funding.
However, in reply to what Geiger said on March 15, State Rep. Jay Case (R-63) wrote to The Winsted Phoenix the following: “The STEAP contracts have yet to go our for the $128,000 Winchester applied for. No monies can be released from State for work already completed as stated in STEAP paperwork. I personally set up a meeting with the state and town last week to get the full story. The bottom line the contract with the state needed to be in process first. The state would be happy to pay as long as ALL rules are followed. We are working to see what else can be done in the meantime.”
Blight on Gilbert Avenue
Geiger said that he had consulted with Town Attorney Kevin Nelligan about a blight situation at 246 Gilbert Avenue.
According to the town’s property database, the property is owned by Frank and Nancy Hills.
“[The house] has been a horrendous problem in terms of blight,” Geiger said. “Bankruptcy court has been at least a five-year project for me and that problem still exists, much to my dismay.”
Summer concerts in the park
Geiger reported that he had a conversation with the local nonprofit organization Friends of Main Street about possible summer concerts.
“They are quite anxious to start it up again, but we are stuck with some of the Covid rules and regulations,” Geiger said. “I’m anticipating by the summer that it will probably happen with spacing and masks.”
For years, Friends of Main Street held live summer concerts at the park.
However, the concerts were not held last year due to concerns with the Covid pandemic.
Discussions on East End Park regulations
At the April 5 meeting, Geiger said that the town is still discussing new regulations for East End Park with members of the town’s Recreation Department.
During his discussion, Geiger and Mayor Perez referred to a spring market held at the park on Saturday, April 3.
The event was organized by Underground Truffles, a company out of Harwinton.
“That event was nice, it was put on by someone outside of town and there were 20 tents on the green,” Geiger said. “But they didn’t bring extra trash cans. Now at the end of the day. They cleaned up but we had overflowing trash cans on the green.”
“Local taxpayer money should not be going to support out of town people that are coming in to make for-profit.,” Mayor Perez said.
“That Saturday, every one of those booths was profit-making,” Geiger said. “Even though some of them were small companies or small individual businesses, they were all there to make money. The individual taxpayers are supporting that. And by the way, most of them are not from our town. But the people in town enjoy it.”
Geiger added that the town was not trying to discourage the use of East End Park for any political events.
“There is no intention to do that whatsoever,” Geiger said. “What we are trying to do is make sure people understand the park itself.”
He added that the Recreation Commission is looking at the rules and regulations of other towns to come up with new regulations for Winsted.

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