Monday, July 20, 2009

Norwich Meetings 20-24 July

This is a little awkward. This week's preview will contain ZERO meetings we might see one another at and none of that is your fault. I spent a reasonable amount this past sunny Saturday afternoon in the Emergency Room and Convenient Care areas of William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich.

The good news, when my three hour staycation was over, is I don't have H1N1. The bad news is I do have pneumonia. In the interests of public health and safety I'll be staying home and away from others, immediate family excepted (making it even more of a lousy deal to be related to me). Should you have a few extra dollars and a list of people whom you dislike, I will consider a few public appearances to kiss them full on the lips and see if they get sick. No guarantees, mind you, and ten bucks is ten bucks per person.

As it is, this a very active and (hopefully) robust week in The Rose City. What, exactly comes of all that activity remains to be seen, as is so often the case.

This afternoon, at four, meeting at 23 Union Street is the Design Review Board all of whose members' appointments expired over FOUR years ago-and do not get me started on their meeting minutes or agenda. Later, at 5:30 in Room 335 in City Hall, in its first convening, is the Hospital Advisory Committee which is the Mayor, and two alderman plus what will soon be four private citizens. They'll pursue development and ideas for growth strategies for the Norwich portion of the Norwich State Hospital/Brewster's Point Property. It's the former state mental facility and has been abandoned for well over a decade as everyone and no one came up with ideas for its reutilization.

At seven is a regular meeting of the City Council, with a sparse agenda, though you might disagree with that characterization if you have any positive or negative feelings about another five million dollar bond issue for road pavement.

Tuesday at 5:15 at the Buckingham Memorial, 307 Main Street, up the street from the Otis Library as you walk towards the YMCA (wait for it!) is a meeting of the Public Parking Commission and judging from the minutes of their May meeting- I suspect we'll see and hear a LOT more about the Intermodal Transportation Center that everyone is so keen to build for reasons though no one seems to know why. Later, at 6:30 in Room 210 of City Hall is a meeting of the Friends of the YMCA who are unflagging in their determination to reopen the facility. The impression I had when it closed in April wasn't a lack of enthusiasm, but of money, six and seven figures deep. In the best of times, a hard row to hoe but in these times, even harder.

At seven, meeting a short walk from one another which is only fair since in many ways they complement one another, is a regular meeting of the Commission on the City Plan at 23 Union Street (the application to operate a "Homeless Veterans Supportive Living facility" is on the agenda) and in the community meeting room (upstairs) at the Otis Library, it's a regular meeting the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Committee whose name just isn't long enough in my opinion. (But who still do not comply with state law on publicly accessible meeting minutes a year after the public law went into effect.)

Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 in their offices at 10 Westwood Park is a regular meeting of the Norwich Housing Authority, who, it seems, have little regard or use for either minutes or agenda on the city's website. Later at 23 Union Street, and lasting into the early evening hours, is a triple-header of sorts. Kicking off at five it's a regular meeting of the Board of Review of Dangerous Buildings. This is the agenda, not the minutes of their 24 June meeting (and didn't some other citizen's panel, not that long ago, hold a meeting in "Art Form" and now it's on a list of blighted properties? What's that about?). Later in the same conference room, basically one right after the other, will be separate meetings of the 21 West Thames Street Committee and the 751 North Main Street Committee, both of whose memberships bears a striking resemblance to one another and to the Board of Dangerous Buildings Review.

In the middle of all of this is the Republican Town Committee Caucus at 6:30 in Room 335 of City Hall where they will solicit and endorse their nominees for Mayor and the six seats for this year's City Council elections but will, as is always the case, have nowhere near enough candidates to field a full slate. Because of CT's 'minority representation' provisions in the State Constitution, there must be at least two members of the Republican party on the seven-person City Council. And if their past is an indicator of their future, it'll be Peter Nystrom for Mayor (maybe specifics show up after the nomination) and Bill Nash for Alderman, and no one else (though I'd love to be surprised).

At seven, in their facility on New London Turnpike, is a regular meeting of the Norwich Golf Course Authority whose June minutes and July agenda are both unavailable.

Speaking of less than available, Thursday morning at eight in their offices at 75 Main Street, it's a regular meeting (I assume) of the Norwich Community Development Corporation, though I've no sign of an agenda or meeting minutes posted on the City's website and most certainly not on their own. It's just no fun anymore to tease about their lack of a web presence, especially in light of their charge as the city's redevelopment engine and agency and more especially since our taxes are directly and indirectly paying for all of this. Not sure how successful you can be at doing those tasks needed to foster economic development in Norwich when you can't employ and deploy the tools and talents the rest of the world already has, but it's comforting to know everyone means well. But that's all it is.

At six, up in their office at the Recreation Office in Mohegan Park is a regular meeting of the Recreation Advisory Board. They meet every other month and their May meeting was cancelled so here's their March meeting minutes, their most current work product.

Starting at six in City Hall, in Council Chambers, it's the Democratic Town Committee Candidate Forum and Talent Show. You don't think Alderman Mark Bettencourt can warble like Nelson Eddy on "Stout Hearted Men"? Or Alderman Bob Zarnetske can't dance like Darth Vader? Won't you be surprised! I'm kidding, of course-the forum won't be anywhere near that entertaining, but it will be the only time that the DTC members will have a chance to hear specifics by the two men on their respective visions of and for Norwich.

My feelings are well-known and I see no point in not talking about it now. If you live here, and your candidate for the next Mayor of Norwich doesn't have at least this much specifically outlined, you need to find someone else or you need to move. It's as true today as it will be next Friday morning, no matter who receives the nomination at the actual caucus starting at seven in Room 335 of City Hall.

I'm gonna spend a reasonable amount of time this week working on getting and staying healthy, which seems to take up more and more of my time everyday. Our city, and your town, works only as well as we who live there make it, and help it, to do. Roll up a sleeve and lend a hand, we all need all the help we can get.

-bill kenny

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