Readers asked, Rudy answered.
by Ellie Coleman
What is your opinion on the Board of Education's request for $732,200 to improve security in Ridgefield Public schools?
I think it is very well founded, it very easily could have been a lot more money. They really looked at the absolute necessary items, like cameras around the school, changing the door locks, essential measures - the major things that need to be done. It is possible that they could come back asking for more, but that is not the issue right now. There are other communities and other schools that have spent a whole lot more, and you have to remember that the possibility of another Newtown in our town, or in any other town, exists. I actually think we need to put a lot more money into mental health.
In what way would you like to fund mental health?
Well, first of all, we need more school counselors. On a regular basis I have heard teachers say, "Wait till that 6th grade class gets to the high school, they are going to be a lot of trouble", and the class gets to the High School and things can become very difficult. If we have input like this from teachers early on, we should be able to have counselors paying special attention to any students who are at risk. Hopefully, we can identify problems earlier and implement a solution earlier, thereby preventing some dangerous things from happening in the future. As far as Newtown, certainly there have been questions asked about the individual and his development, what went on at home, and how he was being handled. I think it has been made public that he did have some issues mentally. We need to be able to identify and work more closely with people like that.
What about activities to keep teens busy outside of school? Maybe a bowling alley?
There had been plans for another barn-type facility, but unfortunately the recession hit and we couldn't raise funds. I think student government should work with the town, instead of just filing a request saying "the town is boring, it never does anything for us". Put a subcommittee to work with the town about organizing something for students. I am willing to work with anyone, come on in, my door is open to anyone.
Out of the 103 guns turned in during the Gun Buyback this Saturday, only two guns had trigger locks. Trigger locks prevent guns from being used and can prevent accidents due to misuse. What would you like to tell gun owners in Ridgefield about gun safety, and do you think the issue is addressed enough?
We offer free trigger locks in the lobby of the police station and residents have taken advantage of this, but I think some people that could benefit from this service may be unaware. After December 14, I was promoting the use of trigger locks by gun owners. We need gun owners to be better gun owners. If you want to own a gun that's fine, you get your permit, you follow the law. If you own a gun, know that you should take every precaution possible to ensure that the gun is not misused in any way or causes an accident. I was very surprised at the low number of trigger locks on the guns the police collected and it shows that we need to do a better job of educating people
What are your plans for working with Water Pollution Control Authority?
Every twenty years The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection requires that a town update their plan to look at expansion and water treatments. Our plan was due in 2010, it has taken DEEP three years to finally say, "Ok, Ridgefield it is your turn to upgrade your permit". The project will take a few years to plan between the WPCA, Planning and Zoning, and the Board of Selectmen. My participation will be based on creating a better line of communication between all of the boards.
The plan we have must account for building over the next 20 years. According to 8-30g every town must have at least 20% of its housing stock in affordable housing, there are various formulas for affordability. We have just barely 2% affordable housing, so any developer that comes in can tear down old homes and build twelve apartments and under 8-30g, they will get automatic approval. So we have to account for that and be careful. It is important to study your plan, the volume it can handle, and specific areas that need attention. We have a terrible septic system failure rate. We know the roads Creamery and Soundveiw have high septic system failure rates, and we would like to build a sewer in that area. The study involves a lot of planning and attention to detail. It is going to take a few years.