Ridgefield town meeting approves house rental

The rental of a town-owned house on the Richardson Park property to a Ridgefield police officer was unanimously approved at a special town meeting of about a dozen voters Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Rent on the house at 729 North Salem Road was approved at $1,300 a month — $15,600 a year — with the understanding the police officer living there would also provide security to the park, which is across the street from Ridgefield High School and includes cliffs overlooking Lake Mamanasco.

“We’ve experienced trespassing, and jumping off the cliffs,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “Part of the responsibility of the rental is provide security up there.”

The house, a vestige of the old Richardson estate, was last occupied by now retired Parks and Recreation Director Paul Roche.

The main focus of discussion at the meeting followed from a question raised by Sean Connelly, a Board of Finance member who is now running for Board of Selectmen on the Democratic ticket and has been attending selectmen’s meeting.

“Just curious about how open this was to other residents, to take advantage of it?” Connelly asked.

Marconi said that the selectmen had asked Parks and Recreation Director Dennis DiPinto if the department had any plans for the building, or potential uses it wanted to explore.

The Parks and Recreation Department didn’t have any plans for it, so the lease for residential use by a police officer was pursued.

“I don’t believe we went out and actually advertised it for rent,” Marconi said.

Discussion touched on whether there was a reason the property had to be rented to a town employee.

“We’re not obligated to keep it for town employees,” Marconi said.

“It’s a nice idea for it to go to a town employee,” Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark said.

“Really, part of this was the security component,” said Selectman Steve Zemo. “We’ve had it empty.”

There had been a public hearing on the proposed rental at the selectmen’s previous meeting. As a result a clause had been added to the lease calling for rent increases in keeping with the changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Among the other clauses in the lease is one saying that no smoking is to be allowed in the town-owned house.

There were all “ayes” and no “nays” when town meeting moderator Ed Tyrrell brought the question to a vote. The meeting’s secretary was Town Clerk Wendy Lionetti.