SEYMOUR — The Board of Selectmen heard from Fire Marshal Tim Willis, discussed the Valley Fire School and approved a revocable license agreement for a new mountain biking trail at its meeting on Tuesday, October 2.
The Board of Selectmen approved Mr. Willis’ promotion to fire marshal six months ago after he served as deputy fire marshal for nearly a decade. He updated the board on his and Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Rockwell’s progress so far and announced the department’s short- and long-term goals.
Mr. Willis said his first month was about getting acquainted with the position, noting that things didn’t get up and running until July, which was sooner than he had hoped.
In the past 90 days, he and Mr. Rockwell have completed 31 percent of all residential inspections. The state mandates 100 percent, and though Mr. Willis said it’s unrealistic, he’s hoping to get as close to that as possible.
Further, he and Mr. Rockwell have done 70 initial property inspections in addition to multiple re-inspections.
“We’re hitting the strides that I’ve been looking forward to,” said Mr. Willis.
In the next few months, the pair will focus on inspecting facilities with commercial cooking where fires are more likely to occur.
In sync with the town and education department, Mr. Willis is looking to upgrade the department’s software. The department hasn’t upgraded since 2008, he said, nor has anyone done maintenence on the system.
While he acknowledged the significant up-front cost, Mr. Willis said new software would help him and Mr. Rockwell better schedule and facilitate inspections. It should be compatible with the volunteer fire department’s software as they are trying to strengthen their relationship with that department.
Mr. Willis is also thinking of ways to encourage the certified volunteers to be more active.
Last of his short-term goals is a new vehicle. The current vehicle is 11 years old and maintenance costs are getting exorbitant, he said.
Long-term, Mr. Willis hopes for for a clerical assistant. The position would be part-time, just a few hours weekly, but the fire marshal said he spends more time than he’d like writing reports, mailing letters and making phone calls.
First Selectman Kurt Miller responded that the board would address these goals possibly as early as next fiscal year.
Mr. Willis added that the fire marshals from six of the seven involved communities signed the interlocal agreement and that it will likely be enacted in the near future. The agreement will allow fire marshals within the seven communities to assist each other in large-scale incidents.
The agreement comes in conjunction with the potential regionalization some services in Seymour, Ansonia and Derby. Mr. Miller met with the towns’ leaders and said they’re reviewing each community’s needs, assessing their strengths and weaknesses and determining what opportunities, if any, may be available. They would be targeting a July 1, 2020, start for some of the changes to take place.
The board unanimously passed a resolution approving the Valley Fire School, a site proposed by Gov. Ned Lamont for volunteer firefighters from Seymour, Derby, Ansonia and Shelton to train.
All four towns have the same resolution; once each town approves, it will be brought to the state Bond Commission to hopefully expedite funding.
The site is planned for Beacon Falls and would provide comprehensive training for the Valley’s volunteer firemen. The resolution emphasized the need for fire training center to protect the public, reading: “The Valley Fire Chiefs Regional Training School is a worthy, necessary and important investment for the safety of the residents of the Town of Seymour and the safety of the public living in the entire southwest Connecticut region.”
Town Attorney Richard Buturla of Berchem & Moses, PC, was present to discuss the New England Mountain Bike Association agreement.
Mr. Buturla drafted a revocable license agreement between the town and the Housatonic Valley Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association for the portion of the Keith Mitchell Preserve that’s on town property.
He had spoken to Oxford’s town attorney, Kevin Condon of Condon & Savitt, PC, about Seymour and Oxford forming an agreement together. Instead of waiting for Oxford, however, Mr. Buturla advised the board to approve the revocable license agreement and authorize Mr. Miller as the one to enter into it so the association can break ground on the Seymour side of the project.
Selectman Trisha Danka asked if the town could be sued for an incident that occurs on the trail. Mr. Buturla said the town could always get sued for any activity on its property, but there are immunities and defenses available as well as insurance coverage.
After some discussion, the board unanimously approved the revocable license agreement.
Benito Urgiles of New Haven, owner of a blighted property at 38 Nichols St., updated the board on his progress repairing the home.
The board issued a several-thousand-dollar blight fine on the home that Mr. Urgiles, unaware of the fine, purchased to renovate and sell.
The board then froze the fine with the stipulation that Mr. Urgiles complete work within certain timelines.
Mr. Urgiles complied with the board’s requests and said on Tuesday that he had finished renovations and was set to meet with town Building Inspector Jim Baldwin the following day to receive the certificate of occupancy.
Mr. Miller said the board will discuss and take action on the blight fine — uphold it, reduce it or come to some other agreement — at its October 15 meeting.
Selectmen approved the human resources policies and procedures document they discussed with town Human Resources Manager Chris Pelosi at their last meeting.
Mr. Buturla said he and Mr. Pelosi made several suggested changes. Mr. Buturla and town attorney Warren Holcomb, Berchem & Moses, PC, will do a final review of the document before finalizing it.
Mr. Miller has events planned this month to spread information about the potential new community center.
On Tuesday, October 8, he co-hosted a Facebook live event during which he answered questions from residents.
The project will be further discussed at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, October 15.
Mr. Miller will then attend a senior citizens’ luncheon on Thursday, October 24, to answer questions and address concerns from that community.
Several selectmen said they looked forward to the eighth annual Pounding the Pavement for Pink 5K that took place Saturday, October 5. Mr. Miller said the organizers appreciated public works for preparing the course.