Media

Support Pequot Library and Restore Funding
Letter to the Editor
April 14, 2013

In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.
Mark Twain

Founded in 1889 in the Southport section of Fairfield, the historic Pequot Library offers an eclectic range of cultural, educational and community-building experiences for its patrons — from its nationally recognized rare book collection to its children’s reading programs and Fourth of July Bike Parade. Every year, Pequot lends tens of thousands of books to its patrons, and draws more than 115,000 visitors.

The Pequot Library is much more than a repository of books today; it is the cultural heart of our town. The library houses a 220-seat auditorium, where it offers eight free “Young Persons’ Concerts” each year that draw people from across the state to visit and spend money in Fairfield. Pequot is also active in giving back to the greater community: Each year, its “Books for Teachers” program contributes over 25,000 books to Bridgeport and New Haven schools, and the library hosts the largest annual book sale in New England.

The library openly welcomes and serves all of Fairfield and beyond with its diverse and unique programs. It is funded through both public and private contributions. There is no fee to borrow its books, to review its extensive research collections or to simply come by and leisurely peruse its stacks. And so it is more than appropriate for us to refer to Pequot as a “public” library in the truest sense of the word — “of or concerning the community as a whole.”

Likewise, Fairfield is much more than just a town to those who live here; it is a vibrant community with a thriving blend of arts, culture, recreation, natural resources and education. And it is hard for us to imagine our town without Pequot. It truly would be a sad day if it was forced to close because of a funding cut. Thankfully this dark vision does not need to become our reality — but avoiding it requires that we act together!

Accordingly, please join us in supporting the Pequot Library’s appeal to restore funding by sending an e-mail to all RTM members, asking them to stand with the library and for their consideration in supporting the reinstatement of the $350,000 annual grant from the town of Fairfield. For every $1 Pequot receives from the town for its operating budget, it raises over $2 from private sources. Bottom line: The Library will simply not be able to survive such a sudden and dramatic cut in its public funding. The e-mail addresses for RTM members may be found at: www.fairfieldct.org/electedofficials.htm

With your help and continued support, the Pequot Library will grow stronger and become an even more active part of the Fairfield community for all of our residents to experience and enjoy for many years to come.

Michael Herley
RTM District One Rep. (Republican)

Tom Dubrosky
Former RTM District One Rep. (Democrat)
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Southport Commuters Gouged
Letter to the Editor
March 1, 2013

As the former vice chairman of the Parking Authority of Fairfield, a current District 1 RTM member and a daily Southport train commuter, I have a great deal of respect for the authority and its management team.

I am, however, concerned that the authority has proposed to increase the annual parking permit fee at the Southport train station by $15, while the fee increase for the town center train station would be $5 less.

I believe this is unfair to Southport commuters for the following reasons:

Southport commuters have access to 47 percent fewer peak a.m. trains to Grand Central Terminal and 33 percent fewer peak p.m. trains for the return trip compared to commuters who use the town center station. This also results in Southport commuters having access to fewer express trains and no direct express trains with the first stop being Southport.

The Southport train stationhouse is only open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, while the center stationhouse is open from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The Parking Authority has no publically disclosed plan to invest additional monies at the Southport train station that I know of, beyond some potential future landscaping enhancements. Conversely, a number of improvements have recently been made to the center station (e.g., security cameras, staircase canopies, brick walkway replacement and parking-lot directional arrows) and others (e.g., staircase and ramp resurfacing) are on the drawing board. All of which are good things and sound improvements for commuters who utilize the center station.

While it is good to be reminded that the parking authority is self-funded through its fee and rental income, any decision to raise the price of parking for commuters should also include a discussion of the need to do so and how these additional monies will be used.

If the parking authority does need to raise its fees to cover expenses and to make the necessary strategic investments in its facilities, then Southport commuters should not bear the brunt of the proposed increase.

Moreover, the parking authority has a responsibility to try and make proportionate investments to the Southport train station in a similar fashion as it has and plans to make at the center station.

Michael Herley
RTM District 1
Southport
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Fairfield Residents Should Feel Confident in Town’s Emergency Preparedness Plan 
Letter to the Editor 
October 24, 2012 

The Fairfield RTM’s Public Health and Safety (PH&S) Committee held a special meeting on October 10, 2012 to review the Town’s “Emergency Preparedness Plan” with the leaders of the Fire, Police and Health Departments. While no readiness program can conceivably plan for every scenario, we believe our Town has a very thoughtful and comprehensive plan in place in the event of a variety of localized and Town-wide emergencies.

Residents should also take pride in the competence of the individual department heads who are responsible for the plan, including: Police Chief Gary MacNamara, Fire Chief Dick Felner, Health Director Sands Cleary, Deputy Police Chief Chris Lydd and Deputy Fire Chief Art Reid, among others. Supporting these individuals are the many fine men and women who make up our Police, Fire and Health Departments.

The PH&S Committee remains focused on improving public health and safety in our Town and on raising its awareness among Town officials. We are one of the most active committees on the Town’s legislative body, the RTM. In addition to the most recent special meeting on emergency preparedness, PH&S also recently sponsored detailed tours of the Police and Fire Departments to better educate all RTM members on public safety.

Michael D. Herley
RTM District One (Republican)
Chairman of PH&S Committee

Ruth Smey
RTM District Five (Democrat)
Vice Chairman of PH&S Committee
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Town Beaches Need Lifeguards on Duty through Labor Day 
Letter to the Editor 
August 20, 2012 

As the Fairfield Citizen reported on August 17, 2012 (“Beaches to have Reduced Staffing, Hours for Season’s End”), the Fairfield Park and Recreations Department announced there would be reduced lifeguard coverage at our Town beaches, with some having no coverage at all, as of August 20, 2012. The reason is that many of the Town’s lifeguards are headed back to school.

It is concerning to us that this reduction in lifeguards began two weeks prior to the“unofficial” end of summer—Labor Day. Water safety is a very serious matter. When visiting our Town beaches for a swim, please read the signs and be cognizant of whether a lifeguard is on duty. If there is no lifeguard coverage at a particular Town beach, the back of the lifeguard stand will state “Lifeguard Off Duty”.

Given the number of Town residents who enjoy our beaches and lakes each summer season, we strongly believe the Parks and Recreation Department needs to re-examine its lifeguard staffing policies to ensure all of our Town beaches are fully staffed through Labor Day and that the BOS, BOF and RTM all need to ensure that the necessary staffing level is fully budgeted for going forward.

Michael D. Herley,
RTM District One (Republican)
Chairman of Public Health and Safety Committee

Ruth Smey
RTM District Five (Democrat)
Vice Chairman of Public Health and Safety Committee