Monday, October 19, 2009

Norwich Meetings 19-24 October 2009

Two weeks from tomorrow, tens of thousands of governmental overthrows and revolutions could be taking place, almost universally in a peaceful and respectful manner, as local and state elections are held. There's still time, wherever you live, to register to vote if you haven't-and if you haven't, why not? Don't say 'it doesn't make any difference who's in office', because it does.

And more especially, a bigger difference is made by those whom we select to hold those offices. And if you choose NOT to decide, you still have made a choice. You don't get to sit out every dance, twinkle toes, eventually you gotta dance with the one that brung ya, so lace up your dancing shoes and get on the good foot.

As for my (current ) hometown, The Rose of New England, Norwich, we have lots of quiet government in action and neighbors working to make things better all across this week's calendar.

This morning at nine, in the Rose Senior Center, it's a regular meeting of the Senior Affairs Commission, all of whose members' appointments expired last month. Undeterred, or perhaps unwilling to take the hint, they met the latter part of September, and here's the minutes from that meeting which included a discussion about those expired appointments and one of the more generous explanations of a (somewhat ambitious and not without controversy) Recreation Department initiative I've seen in quite some time.

This afternoon at 5:15 in their building in Gales Ferry, at 1649 Route 12 (not all that far from the Go-Kart place; I'll bet they'd get a bigger turn-out if you could ride one after the meeting) is a regular meeting of the Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority (whose two Norwich member appointments to the Representative Advisory Board expired SIX years ago).

You can find the September minutes on their website by going down the left side of the page and double-clicking. Potable water is part of the scenery for all of us and risks being taken for granted, so for quality of life, as an economic development tool and for a hundred other reasons, the efforts of these people are important to each of us, whether we know it or not.

There's a City Council meeting at seven tonight with a full agenda. This will be their last meeting before the elections. Let's promise one another, someday real soon, to look back at these past twenty-four months and smile (or grimace). If you're behind on your taxes to the city, you might find resolution three interesting and wonder if it can, perhaps, be expanded to include your situation-bet we both know the answer to that one. As for Resolution one, all of us should applaud (finally) the Ethics Commission's creation and establishment.

At seven thirty Monday evening in its offices in the Norwich Business Park, the Southeastern CT Council of Governments holds a public hearing on the 2010-2013 State and Regional Transportation Improvement Program, among other topics. As Norwich is about to become the owner of a twenty-plus million dollar Regional Inter Modal Transportation Center, it may be worthwhile to see where that piece goes within the regional and state mass transit mosaic. All of the documents related to the public hearing are here, near the bottom of the page.

Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 in the Latham Science Center on the campus at 305 Broadway, the Board of Trustees of the Norwich Free Academy hold a regular meeting, whose agenda (and the minutes of previous meetings) can be found here. As a high school for a number of communities, NFA is, in its own way, a small example of limited regionalism for those on both sides of the debate on the merits of that idea. You don't have to have children at NFA or children at all to be impacted by decisions taken by the neighbors who serve on this board.

At six in Room 210 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Personnel and Pension Board, whose role in municipal relations as the steward of the retirement investments for city employees cannot be overstated, especially in challenging economic times. This may be one of the more important and least understood volunteer efforts in Norwich. Reading through their previous meeting's minutes gives you a feel for the variety of challenges and the scope of the financial consequences they have to face.

At seven, there are choices and voices of varying kinds. There's a Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone meeting, perhaps in the Otis Library (reading some of the outdated meeting minutes posted on the city's website (I'm a sucker for anniversaries, ask my wife), but there's not very much information to help you sort out the location or the agenda. But these folks are consistent as this is NOT the first time I've remarked upon their (lack of) compliance with state statutes, nor, I suspect, will it be the last.

The other meeting at seven is a regular meeting of the Commission of the City Plan, in the basement conference room at 23 Union Street (next door to City Hall), who've had their share, and more, of eventful meetings recently. Lost in all the hubbub about Byron Brook is the ongoing discussion about the application to establish (say some neighbors, after the fact) a Homeless Veterans Supportive Facility, that was tabled at the September meeting and will, I imagine, be on the agenda this time around.

Wednesday morning at 8:30 in the Norwich Business Park in their building, there's a full council meeting of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments. Here's their regular September meeting minutes, and a reminder that the Regional Inter Modal Transportation Center Study mentioned on page four is NOT the structure forecast for Norwich's Hollyhock Island (see the public hearing on Monday for more, or less, depending on how you feel about it).

At nine o'clock is a regular meeting of the Norwich School Readiness Council (Children First) in the Community Meeting Room of the Dime Bank at 290 Salem Turnpike. The February 2007 meeting minutes are now posted (a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step). I'm sure the explanation for not conforming with Connecticut's public law will be added shortly. You might want to get that glass of warm milk and two cookies now and avoid the rush.

I don't pretend to be an expert on childhood or education or any combination of the two (though it's never too late to have a happy childhood) but it seems to me if you're an agency relying on an informed general public to support your efforts and initiatives, you really need to make some effort to meet us halfway in terms of what you're doing, and what you'd like to do (and why) and how it's working out.

Wednesday evening at seven in the Slater Auditorium of Norwich Free Academy is a debate among the ten people seeking nine seats on the Norwich Board of Education. I'm wondering if it wouldn't be more fair, and vastly more amusing, if instead of an election we used musical chairs (full contact rules). That means instead of Pop Goes the Weasel, more like this.

Thursday morning at eight o'clock, is a meeting of the Norwich Community Development Corporation Board of Directors in their offices at 77 Main Street. Despite being the City Council's development arm, NCDC isn't listed on the City of Norwich's website page detailing boards and commissions. For that, the still-in-progress aspect of their website and a hundred other reasons, some in Norwich regard them as The Illuminati. I've been to Ingolstadt and didn't see Bob M or Shelley C while there, though a note to admin@askncdc.com will, I believe, get you a copy of the meeting minutes and agenda. I know, 'what kind of a cabal is this?'

I've read mentions of a nine AM meeting of the Southeast Connecticut Enterprise Region in their offices at 39 Kings Highway, Gales Ferry (I know exactly where it is; sometimes I amaze myself) and here's an intriguing document to save and read as you get to it, produced last year as an annual report.

At 9:30 up in the Norwich Business Park at 30 Stott Road , down the hill from Dodd Stadium, is a regular meeting of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Cooperative. Their website is very informative, assuming the world ended at the end of July, since that looks like the last time anything was updated. I'd recommend reading this page if you only have time for a brief look as it's an excellent overview of their mission and way ahead.

And at seven at night in Room 335 is a regular meeting of the Democratic Town Committee though I'd imagine this close to the actual municipal elections, this meeting may be less than a front-lobe item for many.

And that's it for the meeting high points. Enough different activities all of whom can benefit from another helping hand, perhaps yours? It's true, "You'll never know until you try." Take my word for it. I'm one of the most trying people I know.
-bill kenny

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