11K earmarked for storm relief or health insurance could go to Battle of Ridgefield commemoration

Photo of Alyssa Seidman

RIDGEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen is seeking an additional $11,000 to cover celebrations for the anniversary of the only inland battle fought in Connecticut during the Revolutionary War.

Next month, the town will commemorate the 245th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgefield with a live reenactment by the 5th Connecticut Regiment, a gala at Lounsbury House and a ceremonial burial honoring the discovery of skeletal remains believed to belong to four soldiers who fought in the engagement.

The event was budgeted for $57,000, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said, but more money is expected to be needed to pay for a pair of horse-and-buggies and portable toilets.

The former will be used to transport period-era coffins to one of the town’s cemeteries as part of the ceremonial burial. The 5th Connecticut Regiment was practicing the processional when Marconi spoke with Hearst Connecticut Media earlier this month.

Members voted 3-1 to transfer the funds either from the health insurance line or the FEMA reimbursement the town recouped from Tropical Storm Isaias, pending a recommendation from the Board of Finance.

Selectwoman Barbara Manners cast the sole dissenting vote.

“I think that the money should’ve been raised through fundraising — I told you that a long time ago,” she said, addressing Marconi. “I will not support this.”

Marconi said the board could take some money out of the town’s health insurance “without impacting the year-end.”

He said half of the total $200,000 FEMA reimbursement has been sent to the Board of Finance to address the town’s trees and cemeteries. The town used money from the general fund to pay for costs it incurred during Tropical Storm Isaias — such as tree removal and department overtime — so it would’ve “theoretically had ... a surplus” had the storm not come to pass, Marconi said.

Marconi initially suggested allocating a portion of the town’s American Rescue Plan funds to support the event, but the board had disagreed.

At the time, Selectman Bob Hebert suggested finding a place in the budget to cover the expense.

“Now it’s just a question of the dollar amount and where do we find it,” he said at Wednesday’s meeting.

Hebert and Selectman Sean Connelly voiced support for the request.

“The last reenactment was incredible to see … (and) is something our town should be incredibly proud of,” Connelly said. Transferring the funds from “FEMA seems less appropriate … (but) if we can transfer from health insurance, I think that’s a wise investment in our community.”