Bd. of Selectmen Mtg.—‘NOT a Pitbull’ Shocker and other Updates

There was a full agenda at last night’s Board of Selectmen meeting, but the most dramatic moment took place toward the end. That was when Capt. John Lynch of the Wilton Police Department appeared before the town officials to answer questions about a recent dog attack that happened in town.

Editor’s note:  The particularly gruesome dog attack has been reported extensively by many local media outlets as well as some statewide, regionally and even nationally. GMW made the decision to not report about it unless we could further the story in a way that fit our mission, because the media was basically saturated with similar details. We felt last night’s statement by Capt. Lynch was significant enough to warrant us covering it.

At the meeting, Capt. Lynch provided information that countered what had been reported by police and other media in the past—that being the dog involved in the attack was actually not a pit bull, as had been previously said.

When he was asked if the dog in question was a pit bull, Lynch responded, “Technically, no, it wasn’t. Certainly it looked like what people consider to be a pit bull. I personally have a small pit bull—she’s  a very friendly dog but she’s well trained. There’s a lot of anti- vs. pro-pit bull [sentiments] out there, it seems to be a societal issue at this point. I won’t determine either side. But it was a very, large aggressive dog, and obviously very dangerous. We had to do what was needed to help the victim.”

As for the breed, Lynch said, “It’s kind of beside the point.  That name has a stigma to it. Any dog can become aggressive and violent, in this case it could have been any other of the breeds.  It was just a very large dog. It was a danger to whomever would have wandered by.”

As for what prompted the attack, Lynch said the investigation is still open and the police are still working on establishing a possible reason. “But I don’t know that we’ll ever know that, it’s an animal,” he stated.

Comstock Building Committee Selects Architecture Firm

Also during the meeting, the Comstock Community Center Building Committee presented its choice for architect for renovations that are planned for the building. They have chosen Quisenberry Arcari Architects, and the committee’s chair, Judy Zucker, said the committee “enthusiastically supported” that selection.

In outlining the reasons the committee chose QA, Zucker said they were impressed that the firm’s principals would be the ones dealing directly with the project. She cited their “excellent reputation” and experience not only with evaluating costs and benefits of alternative building systems and using energy modeling, but also their expertise with similar municipal renovation projects.

“They are very comfortable dealing with the municipal bonding process and developing public education and support. As part of their mission, they will be assisting us in communicating with you, the Board Of Selectmen; with the Board Of Finance, with the public at large, with the staff, with the users. It’s a very important part and they understand that,” Zucker said.

She also noted that the fee proposals fit within the budget estimates that were prepared for the May 2012 bonding authorization—in other words, what the town has already approved for the work QA will do.

Rusty Malik, a principal with the firm who will act as the project manager on the Comstock renovation, spoke to the board, telling them he’s been working in the profession for 30 years, “a majority of which has been in the public sector. So I’m very familiar with building committees and community groups, and understanding how town governments work, and working around their needs to make sure that projects come through and are approved,” adding, “We’re really excited about being selected for this project. The majority of the work we do is renovation. We don’t shy away from it, in fact we embrace it—it’s an area we excel in.”

The selectmen unanimously approved the hiring of QA to be the architects on the renovation project through schematic design—any actual renovation work still would have to be approved and funded by the town—and for QA to be the architect on complete design and installation of the replacement Comstock boiler.

Updates on Other Capital Projects

First Selectman Bill Brennan outlined several status updates on capital construction and renovation projects.

  • The Comstock and Middlebrook School roof projects have been completed—as hoped for they were finished before winter started, and were under budget by approximately $14,000.
  • The Miller-Driscoll School renovation project now has two schematic drawings from the architecture firm Tai Soo Kim Partners, and Turner Construction is developing cost estimates for each. The M-D Building Committee will review them at their next meeting scheduled for Dec. 10.
  • The Yankee Gas project progresses slowly. Construction on the proposed gas line will potentially start next spring, near Portofino’s Restaurant and under the Rt. 33 overpass, by the river in Wilton Center. The Bd. of Selectmen plan to start a residential outreach program to increase communication and PR about the project, and Brennan reported that Yankee Gas is eager to extend service to residential customers as well as commercial customers in the center of town. Brennan, who called the project “one of my personal goals,” said he anticipates sitting down and working out an installation agreement very soon. Among the properties slated for connection to the gas line will be Miller Driscoll, the High School and the Wilton Family Y, among others. Brennan reported that while other towns are interested in working with Yankee Gas to bring the utility to their areas, Wilton is currently in a good position with the utility, which “refers to Wilton as a future success story that they’ll be able to talk about.”

New Health Director Introduced

Barrington Bogle, Wilton’s new health director, was introduced to the selectmen. During the meeting he told the board that his priority will be on increasing communication and dissemination of information to the public, including a focus on revamping his department’s website. He also agreed with Second Selectman Hal Clark, who suggested that Lyme Disease should be a priority for the office.

GOOD Morning Wilton has an upcoming interview with Bogle.

Town Employee Cost-of-Living Increase

The Selectmen unanimously approved a 1.25 percent cost of living adjustment for municipal employees, calling it “fair.”

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