Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is running unopposed in next week's municipal election, but will serve his third term under a new party. He ran and won twice as a Democrat, but is on the ballot under the SAM party line. Rosenthal previously said that running with Serve America Movement did not stem from any disagreement or lack of support from the Democratic Party, but rather as part of his vision of the office of the first selectman being non-partisan.
Rosenthal says Newtown has done fairly well when it comes to COVID-19, not to say that it's been easy. But he says the business community and residents have been resilient in the face of that challenge. He wants to turn his attention to allocating the American Rescue Plan Act funding. He expects that work to start in earnest once a new Board of Selectmen, Legislative Council and Board of Finance are seated.
Rosenthal says one of his priorities will be to continue his effort to build road funding into the operating budget and addressing road infrastructure. Newtown may include some drainage projects into the Capital Improvement Plan, if they qualify under ARPA.
The future of the Fairfield Hills campus has been discussed for the last couple of decades, and ramped up in 2019 and 2020. Residents approved consideration of mixed use development at the site on the ballot last November. Rosenthal says Planning and Zoning have since updated language to allow for that, and expects to see projects there over the next year or so. Developers have submitted proposals to redevelop two buildings and will do community engagement soon.
Rosenthal will keep in touch with the Department of Transportation about two project currently underway on state roads through Newtown. One is the work that just started at Exit 11 and Wasserman Way, which becomes a bottleneck several times a day. The whole project will take a couple of years an involves a new ramp and turning lanes. He says the bridge construction creates problems in town when there are accidents on that span. Rosenthal looks forward to that project being wrapped up.
Newtown does have a plan for replacing fire trucks, with Hawleyville Fire getting a new tanker. That was purchased a couple of years ago. Rosenthal says Sandy Hook has a couple of apparatus purchases on the horizon. He notes there are some building infrastructure needs for a couple of the departments, but they are further out in the Capital Plan.
Rosenthal touted completion of the new police station, calling it long over due. The work also included a new dispatch center. Over the next years Newtown is finishing emergency communications upgrades. He says this conversion to a digital signal should serve the town well.