December 17, 2013 12:26AM
By Dan Brechlin
MERIDEN — Only four residents spoke at the Monday City Council open forum, an event held quarterly for people to speak their mind about any topic for up to four minutes.
Though some councilors ran in the past election advocating for expanded and televised public forums, only four residents, mostly regular participants, opted to let their voices be heard.
The forum and council meeting drew a larger audience than usual, many of whom were from the Republican Town Committee, which showed up to support Mayor Manny Santos in his first meeting held in the Council Chamber. Santos’ second meeting was far less controversial following a contentious meeting at Washington Middle School two weeks ago that saw Santos spar publicly with Democrats over several issues.
At Monday’s meeting, the council approved the new deputy mayor, Bob Williams, and constituent caseworker, Robert E. Kosienski Jr. Kosienski has been working for the last two weeks as a volunteer, Santos said. The position pays about $40,000 annually.
“He’s been quite valuable to me and to the mayor’s office,” Santos said. “He volunteered his time up until now...His time has been spent resolving a number of constituent issues.”
City resident Dan Zaborow-ski, who spoke during the open forum, said the session should be televised.
“This way constituents can see what we have to say,” Zaborowski said.
Others who spoke included Arline Dunlop and Andrew Piatek, who spoke about concerns including the long hours plow drivers work, the design of the Hub park and other topics. Zaborowski also touched on a number of topics including the need to save money in the emergency services departments, the cost of putting holiday lights in Hubbard Park and fishing at Mirror Lake. Another resident, Thomas Fitzgibbons, spoke about an issue in the Hourigan Drive neighborhood dealing with another resident’s failed septic tank and the need for that person to fix it and not the rest of the neighborhood.
The open forum was a mostly quiet and calm one, however, except for some questioning of the four-minute time limit placed on speakers. Some questioned whether it was five, though when rules were put in place three years ago, it was limited to four.
Also at the meeting, police officer Hector Cardona was honored by the council for 32 years of service in the community. Cardona, and his curled mustache, are well-known in the community.
“He’s a good friend and an excellent officer,” said Police Chief Jeffry Cossette. “The way he relates to the general public, the Hispanic community, his sense of humor, which is very, very developed, has been great.”
Cardona said he will miss the job, but plans to remain involved in the community.