New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is seeking a 3rd term in office. The Republican is being challenged by Democrat Ted Hine.
Bass is looking to continue some long term projects and keep moving New Milford Forward. Bass is touting the completion of 62 miles of road paving, nearing the completion of the library renovation and expansion project, and that crime is down again. He notes that New Milford has saved millions on health insurance and the town is working on school roof replacements. He's most proud of riverfront revitalization. Young's Field will remain a greenspace, but Bass says there will be an expanded skate park, tennis court, playgrounds, and a bandshell. A proposed splash pad will double as an ice skating rink.
Hine is a lifelong resident and comes from one of the oldest families in the town. Hine worked GE Capital before retiring in 2018 and served on several nonprofit boards. He says a lot of industry has been lost in the town over the years and New Milford has an aging population. He wants to take on affordable housing issues, update zoning regulations and improve broadband infrastructure.
When it comes to the continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hine says he wants to look at the analysis from the Long-term Recovery Commitee, which was required by the state of every municipality. Bass sees a continued need to hold vaccine clinics in the near-term. He's proud of the 72-percent vaccination rate among town residents. The town is looking into how to spend the federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation New Milford received. Some of that money has been approved. Bass says money went to a business loans and grants program, foreclosure rental assistance, funding for nonprofit and arts organization, and new refrigeration for the Food Bank. The Town Council also approved fire packs for the Fire Marshal, software to tie in all fire departments, an electronic speed sign and a police deescalation simulator--one of the first in the area to offer that technology. New Milford also created new position of Family Crisis Domestric Violence Advocate, one of the first in the state.
Hine says traffic around New Milford is an issue and should be addressed through a Master Plan. Bass says sidewalks will be installed along Route 7, down from Canterbury School to downtown, Grove Street and Route 202. When streets flooded after Hurricane Ida, Hine said it showed the need for a plan to address the long standing issue. Bass says he's worked with First Light to drawdown the Housatonic River before storms hit so they can take a proactive approach to prevent flooding before it happens.
Bass says he's waiting on the Zoning Commision to weigh in on where cannabis facilities could be located, if the Town Council chooses to go that route, but they are also looking at an ordinance to prohibit recreational use on town property. Hine called it a prudent action that the Town Council prohibited the use of marijuana on town property, but was shocked to find out that the town hasn't restricted tobacco smoking on town property.
When Bass first ran for office, he was critical of the proposed cost to John Pettibone School into a Community Center being very different than initial estimates. He notes that there's a lot of use there now, and has been helpful as a vaccination site. He wants to look at what the future of the clinic will look like and if it will be a long-term use. Hine says he supports the designation remaining. He says it proved a critical resource to getting through the current public health crisis. He notes that moving Social Services, Parks & Rec and other departments into a centralized locations, they were able to better serve New Milford. He wants the town to start maintaining the property properly and called for an oversight committee to figure out how to finish the build out and fill the empty space. Hine called for a plan for the future of East Street School. Bass says the Board of Ed administration building is still East Street, and the town is waiting for them to turn it back over to the town.
Hine says town employees are telling him that they're voices aren't being heard and are afraid to speak out. With his corporate experience, Hine says he would listen to employees because they know what the issues are, and what the solutions are. Bass says he's proud of how town employees have risen to the occasion of serving the public throughout the pandemic.