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Speck Hands the Baton to New Board


KENT—In her final meeting as first selectman, Jean Speck informed the incoming board that the Albin family offer of a parcel of land in South Kent has been rescinded.

“The family just decided to go in a different direction,” she said. “It’s unfortunate, but as simple as that.”

Wrapping up further details, she asked the out-going board to disband the Streetscape Committee. The first phase of the project, which saw cement sidewalks installed along Main Street and Bridge Street, is “completely wrapped up,” she reported. “We received the funding and had a ribbon cutting.” 

The next phase will be overseen by town employees, the first selectman, town treasurer and road foreman, she said. “We need to disband the committee and thank them for their time.”

Selectman Rufus De Rahm said there had been dissatisfaction with the quality of the materials used in the first phase. “Hopefully, everyone will pay attention to that,” he said, but Speck said much of the work is in the state’s right-of-way, “so we do what they say.”

The selectmen then voted to disband the committee, with thanks.

Speck addressed the new members of the Board of Selectmen, who took office Tuesday. She said she had spent hours with new First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer since his election, but wanted to flag areas of interest for the other members of the new board.

“There are a number of different projects that I hope you can spend time digging into and moving forward,” she said. She warned them that the budget season is on the horizon.

“It is a freight train,” she said. “Municipal budgeting is different, so be kind to yourselves, have lots of meetings. The organizations we give money to supply annual reports—take time to read them. And the health insurance state partnership plan has proven important. It’s a high-quality plan.” 

She said green energy is worth the effort of looking into future initiatives. “Every single car manufacturer will stop making gas- and diesel-powered vehicles in 10 to 20 years,” she cautioned. “We must plan now, I mean right now. We might have to move the vehicles in our fleet. If we were a bigger town, it would be much harder to be nimble, but we are small and it’s much easier.”

She said the position of selectman is all-consuming. “It is 24/7,” she said, “but at times you have to just not answer the phone.” She said the town has “high-functioning boards and commissions that are committed to their missions,” and urged the selectmen to rely on them.

Out-going Selectman Rufus De Rahm advised the newcomers to be able to support their requests when going before the Board of Finance. “We can’t keep pushing things off,” he said. “Sometimes you just can’t hold it with taxes.”

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