Council candidates field questions at forum

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Oct. 21, 2011
Caption: (L to r) Town Council candidates Tom Gullotta (D), Michele Jacklin (D), Lorraine Marchetti (R), Whit Osgood (R), Paul Pirrotta (D) and Bob Zanlungo (D). Photos by Steve Smith.
Caption: (L to r) Town Council candidates Tom Gullotta (D), Michele Jacklin (D), Lorraine Marchetti (R), Whit Osgood (R), Paul Pirrotta (D) and Bob Zanlungo (D). Photos by Steve Smith.

On Oct. 19, the Glastonbury PTSO invited Town Council candidates to a forum in which questions submitted by Glastonbury residents were asked. The same question was asked of two candidates in two rounds.

Democrat Paul Pirrotta and Republican Diane DeLuzio were asked whether Glastonbury could be better prepared for a natural disaster.

“One of the areas I would ask the town to look at...would be in the area of communication. Instead of focusing on the social networks...I think we should also think about some of the seniors who may not have access to things like Twitter and Facebook. The old-fashioned radio may still do the job,” said Pirrotta.

“I think that Glastonbury is very prepared,” DeLuzio said, “but I don't know if the citizens necessarily know everything we have going. The reverse-911 needs to be expanded,...and I encourage websites and blogs—just to get a communication campaign out there, so everybody knows about all the good things that are being done.”

Republican Lorraine Marchetti and Democrat Michele Jacklin were asked about the effectiveness of the town's commissions and boards.

“Perhaps there are some boards and commissions that don't meet as often as some folks would like,” Marchetti said. “It's good to review, but I think that it works right now, and I encourage more people to get involved.”

Jacklin took issue with the Economic Development Commisssion in particular. “It has hardly ever met,” she said. “There are no minutes posted. I don't think it has a chairperson. In these challenging economic times, that is perhaps one of the most important commissions we have. I think we desperately need to resuscitate that commission.”

Democrat Jill Barry and Republican Whit Osgood were asked about ways to maintain the Glastonbury/Rocky Hill Ferry.

“I think it's an important landmark,...unfortunately, it doesn't make money,” Barry said. “One of the ways [to improve it would be] if there was a Ferry park, or something that would draw people there and make people aware that it is there and is a great source of fun.”

“One idea that made a lot of sense was to try to start a foundation to provide additional support to the ferry,” said Osgood. “I think we should also consider expanding the hours to increase the time for commuters...We should also look hard at how to reduce the costs of the operation.”

Republican Larry Byar and Democrat Tom Gullotta were asked to make one hypothetical change to Glastonbury, regardless of cost.

“iPads or tablets for everyone in the school district would be a wonderful thing,” Byar said. “with unlimited all of the books, all of the textbooks, and everything they'd be looking for. I think we could benefit and increase the efficiency of our school district.”

“I would champion the land acquisition ordinance,” said Gullotta, adding that he would purchase key properties. “If you're facing ever-increasing taxes, the only way to control to control the building of new houses.”

Democrat Tim Coon and Republican Chip Beckett were asked about connecting developments to town water systems and who should foot the bill.

“What I would prefer to see would be a prioritization, from the MDC itself, as to what areas in town are in most need of water service,...and a relatively efficient way to distribute it. If we can extend it where it's cost-effective, let's go for it,” said Coon.

“There are many places in town that will never have a sewer system,” Beckett said. “There just isn't the density, and the cost is horrendous. I think it's a little bit unfair to expect the other rate-payers to pay for someone's value-added property.”

Republican Kurt Cavanaugh and Democrat Bob Zanlungo were asked whether open spaces in town should be acquired for development or retained as open space.

“I think once we purchase it, we purchase it for a reason, and the citizens have an expectation that it will not be built on,” Cavanaugh said. “In the future...when we have to acquire open space to build another school, firehouse or police precinct, that ordinance does allow us to do that. For the most part, we have been acquiring open space to limit residential development.”

“When you purchase open space, you pay for it once, but the cost of education and the cost of town services continue to rise in perpetuity. That's why we buy open space-- to keep our taxes low,” Zanlungo said. “If there is any other reason that we are purchasing would know that.”

Electon Day is Nov. 8.

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