Ridgefield selectmen approve Richardson Park rental

The former home of retired Parks and Recreation Director Paul Roche will be leased to a Ridgefield police officer for $1,300 a month.

That was the result from the Board of Selectmen’s Oct. 2 public hearing which went over the lease details of the Richardson Park property.

Before the deal goes into effect, voters will have a final say at a town meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the lower level conference room of town hall.

Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark insisted that the lease include a no smoking clause.

“I didn’t see that in there anywhere,” she mentioned during the 10-minute public hearing.

“You did bring that up and I will certainly add it in there,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “The person that rents it doesn’t smoke so it shouldn’t be an issue but it’s nice to have that in writing.”

Also up for discussion was whether the property should come with a clause for pets.

“He has a 18-pound dog that he wants to bring with him,” Marconi told the board.

Selectwoman Barbara Manners didn’t see that as a problem.

“Paul [Roche] had a big golden retriever there for years. The house probably still has dog hair in it,” she said.

“I’m fine with allowing a pet.”


Marconi told the board the new tenant would be repainting the home and and that, as part of the low rent agreement, he would be providing security on the property at 729 North Salem Road.

“There have been two incidents on the property since Paul left,” Marconi said. “People jumping off the cliffs there at Richardson Park. One involved a person from Stamford who was hurt and had to be transported to the hospital. ... And the other incident, there was no one hurt.”

Marconi emphasized that the officer “knows that the reduction in the cost of the rental is maintaining security on the property.”

“I think it’s good to get someone in there rather than have it vacant,” said Ed Tyrrell, the hearing’s lone speaker. “High school kids are going to have to go somewhere else to get into trouble.”

“These kids weren’t our own but we have had incidents there in the past,” Marconi clarified.


Besides smoking and pets, the subject of utilities was the biggest hurdle for the selectmen.

“We’re paying utilities, what does it amount to?” asked Kozlark.

“It’s not comparable to what others pay, I can tell you that much,” Marconi replied.

The first selectman said that the tenant would be paying for his own Internet and cable.

“We didn’t negotiate heating and electric,” Marconi added. “We had been paying for it already, and so that remains part of the contract.”

Kozlark said she was fine with keeping the utilities as part of the agreement but wondered about having the lease run year to year — allowing the selectmen the flexibility to increase the rent on the property.

“Same terms and conditions, but we need to make it renewable year to year,” she said.

Manners agreed that the board should be able to review the agreement annually.

“That was problematic with Paul’s lease, we never could increase the rent,” she said. “We don’t want that.”

The selectmen unanimously agreed to approve the lease with a clause that allowed them to increase the rent based on the Consumer Price Index at the end of each term. The current year lease will run from Nov. 1, 2019, through Oct. 31, 2020, and will be up for renewal again next fall.

“That way we can see where we are,” Selectman Steve Zemo.

Kozlark agreed.

“We can revisit again in one year,” she said.