The Middlefield Board of Selectmen met remotely Monday, July 6. Some highlights from Ed Bailey’s First Selectman’s Report taken from the meeting minutes:
In regards to offering better communication to residents Bailey said he would like to have an electronic sign positioned on the Town Green and agreed with fellow board members that posting letters in the Town Times would be another good option.
Bailey reported that he met with the leader of a Facebook group named “Save Wadsworth Falls” and suggested changing the group name, as the word “save” could be misinterpreted. The leader agreed and happily changed the group name to “Friends of Wadsworth Falls.”
Bailey learned that the state has an adopt a park program and is planning to encourage the “Friends of Wadsworth” group to join as volunteers and engage with the Parks Department of DEEP in an effort to mitigate some of the ongoing issues.
Bailey reported that ENCON Police will be stepping up patrolling of Wadsworth Falls park. Signs have been posted at both corners of Whisper Winds and Hubbard Street as well as Wallace Way, stating “No Access to Wadsworth Falls.” “Tow Away Zone” signs have been posted along Cherry Hill.
ENCON Police and Troop F have been patrolling “hot-spots” such as King Road and the boat launch. Bailey continued, saying that DEEP staff and all state parks have been under more stress than ever with an unprecedented number of park closures for overcrowding.
The “Friends of Wadsworth” group did a couple of clean up days to help remove some of the waste left behind by visitors. Bailey noted that ENCON Police have been told not to issue citations for violators due to the current social climate. Discussion continued around towing illegally parked cars and the impact that would have on future visitors, specifically if a person gets towed and posts to social media about their experience.
Since the state will not close down the park, Bailey has been working on a few different ideas to handle the overload of visitors; one possibility being to close Cherry Hill Road and establish a detour which would ultimately make getting to the parking area at the falls impossible.
Bailey also is advocating for the pond on the Middletown side of the park to be filled and the beach opened because the visitors who park in the larger parking area in Middletown eventually end up at the falls area on foot.
Bailey stated that since the second week of June there had been a few issues at the Lake Beseck Beach. He reached out to Park and Rec Director Hannah Malcolm about putting someone at the beach every day to control the gate and added additional hours for the gate person to be there.
Bailey will work with the Board of Finance to obtain additional funds to secure the beach area on a daily basis.
On a recent Saturday, there were approximately 60 people at the beach and Bailey noted that there was no issue with social distancing. However, the lifeguard can’t be responsible for pass checking when they need to be paying attention to swimmers. Bailey felt there is a need for an additional person to man the gate.
Six temporary concrete barriers have been installed at the north end of the lake because of a recent issue where about eight cars were parked along the road with people barbecuing. Bailey explained that he has gotten both compliments and complaints regarding the barriers, which the town plans to remove at the end of the season.
Bailey wanted to avoid putting up a costly permanent guardrail, which would ultimately block a key access point to the lake for maintenance, especially when the lake is drained in the winter months.
Bailey said that Middletown Area Transit / Middletown Regional Transportation District are moving forward on merging with Nine Town Transit, which servers lower Middlesex County. Bailey is on the board to negotiate the contract with Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Bailey also reported that Memorial School is undergoing some renovations which could impact the use of the facility as an emergency shelter. He is working with the Emergency Management Director to be sure a plan in place.