Monday, June 7, 2010

Norwich Meetings 7-11 June 2010

This was an interesting first weekend of June for The Rose of New England--we had thousands in downtown, or what would be downtown if we could turn words into deeds, for the Dragon Boat Races at River Fest in Norwich and across town (well, at least that far, maybe more) up in the only Business Park in the World with condominiums and a baseball stadium, close to fifteen thousand people enjoyed NCAA Baseball Regional championship action complete with two of the four clubs, Central Connecticut and the University of Connecticut, both in action. Every one at the stadium seemed to enjoy themselves, with (perhaps) one exception, and there's a lot of validity to what Mike D writes, though not as much for the on-line commentators.

But that was then and this is now. The fun and games part of the week is already past, so let's look at the meeting calendar which begins appropriately enough with a regular meeting of the City Council tonight at 7:30. The headline item for the meeting, as you can read in the agenda, is the adoption of a preliminary budget (there will be a THIRD public hearing this Thursday night at 7:30 in Council chambers) with a special regular meeting of the Council set for next Monday, the 14th, to approve a final budget.

There are other important items on the agenda, to include the opportunity to comment on the Proposed Consolidated Housing and Community Development Strategy and Plan (you can review the proposals for funding and fund allocations right here.) There's also a proposed closure of Burton Avenue, though there seems to be as little data supporting that as there was for last year's closing of Mohegan Park Road, but didn't that happen lickety-split anyway? Wouldn't be surprised to see emotion triumph over hard data again.

I'd be curious in connection with resolution #12 to learn more, exactly, what the Norwich Arts Council is proposing to achieve with the funds from both the Sachem and CT Tourism Board grants it has received, but I'm not holding my breath on that one, nor do I anticipate anyone from either agency in a year, or six months or ever (for that matter) to come back and ask about what happened to the money.

Tuesday afternoon at four in either the Kelly Middle School (according to a newspaper on Sunday) or (possibly) at the Central Office, across from the Norwichtown Green, is a regular meeting of the Norwich Public Schools Budget Expenditure Committee whose last meeting was, seemingly, in April and the minutes of that meeting read like an exercise in haiku, except for the absence of meaning, which I concede is rather artful.

I'd think it more likely that meeting will be in the school, perhaps in the Dan Mulloy lunchroom, since at 5:30 is a regular meeting of the Board of Education, slated for the Kelly Middle School library. I'd compliment the Board of Education on the currency and timeliness of posting its meeting's minutes, but since neither April nor May's are posted, I suppose I would be both premature and out of line. And that's not how we do things here in Norwich, when we do them at all.

In between these two meetings is a 5 PM Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee meeting at 50 Clinton Avenue-it would seem to be only the second meeting they've had since January and at the risk of getting popped by both Dennis B and Chris C, either one of the alderpersons has abandoned the dark side or her party affiliation on the website is wrong (my larger point is, at the municipal level, political party affiliation isn't as important as community engagement, or at least it shouldn't be).

And at seven, in the basement conference room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street is a meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals whose May 11 Agenda is posted on the city's website but not their meeting minutes.

Wednesday at six is a regular meeting of the Norwich Baseball Stadium Authority who, together with the Connecticut Tigers, should be applauded for working with UCONN and the NCAA to get Dodd Stadium named as a host site for the regional baseball championships (and both should work with the NPD, residents of Plain Hill Road and the City Council to repair, not patch, the traffic management plan around entering and leaving Dodd Stadium). Reminder, the CT Tigers have their home opener in the NY Penn League on Saturday 26 June at Dodd Stadium. I'd say 'kudos' on the timely posting your meeting minutes, but that's undeserved as they are unposted.

At seven in the Central Fire Station it's a regular meeting of the Public Safety Committee whose May meeting minutes suggest there will be a review tonight of the cumulative efforts of the various public safety agencies, a sort of Lessons Learned, from the March floods.

And Thursday at seven thirty it's your final opportunity to constructively (or otherwise) comment on the city budget before the City Council votes next Monday evening to adopt it. There's been a lot of discussion mostly AT one another as opposed to WITH one another in recent weeks on the assumptions and suppositions that created the allocations and funding levels. Not everyone is happy and not everyone is going to go home happy when this is all said and done.

And if you think this year's austere budget marks the end of a hard journey, I suggest you rethink that position right now as this isn't the end, but just another step in the beginning of the end. The day will dawn soon when we see these as the Seven Fat Years. We're still not convinced that there's no such thing as free lunch, even as we try to eat the napkins.
-bill kenny

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