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Wetlands Commission chair challenging two-term incumbent New Fairfield First Selectman

New Fairfield incumbent Republican First Selectman Susan Chapman is seeking election to a third term. She is being challenged by Inland and Wetland Commission member Pat Del Monaco. Del Monaco has been chairman of the Wetlands Commission for 15 years and decided to run after seeing changes in the town.

Chapman says there are some infrastructure projects she would like to see through to completion, including sidewalk installation and road paving. She also wants make sure capital items and town buildings and equipment is maintained. Chapman wants to make sure downtown is more walkable. New Fairfield is partnering with Danbury to create a walking path along Marjorie Reservoir.

Del Monaco wants to have a more responsive and open town government, bring back small businesses and rebuild the town center. She also wants to work cooperatively with the Candlewood Lake Authority. She says Candlewood and Ball Pond are important to her. She opposes uses chemicals in the lake. There is now a new ordinance in New Fairfield requiring a town vote on the idea in the future. Del Monaco says buffer gardens are helpful in keeping nutrients out of the lake, which can lead to blue green algae and milfoil. She supports the sterile grass carp program and the drawdown program.

Chapman is concerned about the water running into Candlewood Lake. She wants to do more education about the watershed and products people are putting on their lawn, even if they’re not shoreline residents. Chapman says the sterile grass carp program has been successful in controlling invasive Eurasian Milfoil. She believes it’s important to deal with blue green algae and other toxic blooms that can form on the water.

Chapman wants to continue pushing the legislature to change the walk-in policy for state parks, specifically Squantz Pond. She believes walk-ins should be banned because it defeats the purpose of having a car limit in the parking lot as a way to reduce overcrowding. The parking limit was put in place after several years marred by drownings.

Del Monaco called Squantz Pond an asset, but a shared responsibility. Now that there have been some changes made, she wants to sit down with the Park Ranger and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to see if there’s a way to increase the number of cars allowed to park there. Right now residents have to squeeze by on Route 39 because of the cars parked on the shoulder of the road. She also suggested budgeting for police overtime on weekends to better control traffic.

Del Monaco would like to make the town center more walkable. She says residents have expressed interest in more walking trails.

An added challenge for municipal leaders this year has been the state budget stalemate. Chapman notes that New Fairfield sends a lot of money to Hartford, but the Governor thinks municipal aid is a gift. She calls it a return on what is sent to the state.

When it comes to dealing with potential funding cuts from the state, Del Monaco says the Board of Finance has done a good job in preparing for the worst. If elected, she would look at the town budget to make sure resident’s concerns are addressed.

There are no big infrastructure projects on the horizon for New Fairfield. But Chapman does say they’ve been thinking about renovating the high school auditorium or building a separate performing arts facility at the high school.

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Joe Pags

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