More car charging stations in Ridgefield? Economic commission is working on it

With initiatives to add more electric vehicle charging stations in town and help the village business community reduce costs by sharing services, the Economic and Community Development Commission is moving forward despite the loss of longtime Chairman Arnold Light.

Light’s contributions will be remembered in a presentation at the Oct. 23 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, said John Devine, who was elected chairman at the Oct. 7 meeting of Economic and Community Development Commission (ECDC). Geoffrey Morris was elected to replace Devine as vice chairman.

But the work goes on.

“We do have some very aggressive, large plans for 2020,” Devine said.

“We’ve got a couple of exciting ones. The one I think is really going to help everyone is this whole project on expanding the location and number of car charging stations in town.”

“It’s in the initial stages,” Devine said. The goal is to put together a program that can be “rolled out in spring of next year,” he said.

There are currently three public car-charging stations — two behind town hall, and one in the Ridgefield Playhouse parking lot.

“Those two were put in a long time ago, and they’re free,” Devine said.

Credit card charges

Devine said the ECDC is looking into working with a company that provides stations where people can hook up and pay for their recharge with a credit card.

“The original ones — it takes three hours for a complete charge. The newer charging stations, they charge much faster. Some of them you can get a complete charge in 30 minutes,” Devine said.

“We’re investigating the whole process. There’s a company that leases you the charging station, Eversource brings the power … Consumers, they use a credit card and plug in their car and swipe their card and get their charge.”

The concept the ECDC is looking at would likely involve one pole with two chargers at each location.

“What I want to get is three locations, and test usage,” he said.

“I’d like to put them over in the CVS parking lot so if you’re shopping there, or in the park, you have the opportunity to get a charge.”

The town’s Governor Street parking lot would be another site, but Devine thinks it makes sense to wait until the expansion project there is approved.

“Once we get the expansion, we’ll look at over there,” he said.

“Stop & Shop is an obvious one.” he added.

“Where to put these locations is critical. There are obvious locations. If we get into commercial lots, we have to be sure landlords are willing to accept that.”

Devine sees additional charging stations as another draw that would bring people to town — especially as electric cars become more and more common.

“The object is for residents or visitors to be able to come to town, know that when they’re in Ridgefield to shop or dine or go to a show, they’re able to charge their vehicles. It’s another reason to make us a destination.”

Shared services

Another project the ECDC is working on is “village collaboration.”

Nick Ktorides is working to better coordinate commonly used services among village landlords and businesses.

“The first project Nick’s taking on is to contract out all trash and waste removal in the village,” Devine said. “Currently, the landlords and retailers are negotiating independently. We’re certain if we bundle it all together we can negotiate better rates. It just makes it more cost efficient for everyone involved.”

Devine said the hope was to seek bids soon.

After the trash collection, areas of likely cooperation would be snowplowing and landscaping work, he said.

“The trash was the first one, just to get traction and to start to get people to think about working together.”