IT assessment, budget drivers among topics discussed
An IT assessment was one of the topics spoken of at length at the most recent Operations Planning Committee meeting in town.
The Board of Selectmen got approval for an IT assessment, according to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson.
“This is probably an important first step to look at our software needs and software coordination where we can be more efficient,” she said.
However, this might not be the whole picture of IT, she said, referring to the town’s police department.
“We begin to reflect on the burgeoning IT needs at our police department in terms of their need to keep and catalogue digital evidence and other things,” she said.
Stevenson said the town needs a forward thinking strategic plan.
“One of the outcomes of this project should be a cyber-security plan for the town that becomes part of its emergency operations manuals and protocols,” she said.
“We’re not vulnerable but I think that it’s of such great importance to the municipality and the district that we should put it together in a plan so that we all understand when something happens, whose responsibilities it is, and from the town’s perspective, what resources we know we can draw on,” she added.
On the topic of security, RTM moderator Seth Morton spoke about establishing a good dialogue in town.
“Dialogue is real important,” Morton said, adding it’s essential to keep a list of all business transactions.
“The assaults are coming from all different directions, all different kinds. So continual dialogue is real, real important because you want to make sure that any adjustments they’re making, that you know what you’re adopting and that you’re doing it and staying abreast,” Morton said. “Because if you get behind, that’s when somebody slips in the door.”
Stevenson said this falls into the category of emergency preparedness, “so it’s a community-wide conversation.”
Board of Education
Board of Education Chairman Tara Ochman spoke about the community conversation that was recently held in town in regard to the hate symbols found in Darien schools.
“I really appreciate the town of Darien coming together for that conversation and making time,” she said. “I think it was an important first step in this process.”
In regard to having a strategic plan in the schools, the Board of Education will be looking to put together a steering committee “from constituent groups in the community to help inform and advise that process and to get feedback,” Ochman said.
Ochman also spoke about possible budget drivers. She said there has been a rise in healthcare costs and in significant claims, “so I imagine that that will drive the budget,” she said.
She added that the Board of Education is always open to “making sure that we are in the most competitive and respectful process for both our staff and for the town.”
Another budget driver, Ochman said, is special education excess cost reimbursement.
“We’re noticing a change in eligibility of students. Part of that has to do with the cost per pupil,” she said.
She said the legislature needs to take a look at more consistent funding across public education, including special education.
The Board of Education will hold an all-day budget meeting on Saturday, Jan. 4, at 35 Leroy Avenue, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The meeting is open to the public.
Board of Finance
Board of Finance Chairman Jon Zagrodzky said the financials for the town remain “on track.”
He added that the board is looking at the treasurer’s investment policy.
“Joan Hendrickson, the town treasurer, has invited our input,” he said.
The board is going to make sure its input “is well known,” he added.
Planning & Zoning Commission
Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Steve Olvany gave an update on many ongoing town projects and businesses:
Federal Realty has demolished its first building on Heights Road.
The foundation plan for the new Walgreens building, which is going to be between the old Walgreens and Equinox Darien, is under review in the Planning and Zoning Department.
Palmer’s had its groundbreaking. There are still two tenants left at the property: a liquor store and Jimmy's Southside Tavern.
BMW of Darien put in an application for a zoning change. The dealership’s zoning change application involves increasing its lot coverage from 20 percent to 25 percent.
Darien High School would like to hold a senior sendoff this year. This is a party that’s held after the prom, “that’s governed, sanctioned, and watched by the town,” Olvany said. “It goes from the end of the prom until dawn.”
Darien Butcher Shop put in an application to expand into some of the space next door.
Hollow Tree Self Storage wants to be able to put a wine cellar inside its building.
Corbin District financing is now closed.
According to Olvany, there is a pending lawsuit in town from 77 Leroy Ave.
“Their first court appearance is the beginning of January,” Olvany said. “The developer wants to lower the age of the occupants from 62 to 55 and change the parking.”
The topic of private parking in town was addressed by Stevenson, when she said there are many privately-owned parking lots on properties downtown with “limited enforcement.”
“It may become necessary for private property owners to begin to enforce parking in a way that might be different for people that shop and dine downtown,” she said, adding the town will continue to work with downtown property owners on this.
On the topic of all the construction projects that will soon be underway, town leaders discussed possibly getting a request for temporary art, such as mural art, to cover this construction while it’s taking place.
They also spoke about making sure all the construction doesn’t interfere with traffic and school bus routes and schedules.