What’s in store for Ridgefield in 2022? Here’s a look at the year ahead

With the noisemakers packed up and the confetti cleared away, many are now wondering what the new year has in store

With the noisemakers packed up and the confetti cleared away, many are now wondering what the new year has in store

Alyssa Seidman / Hearst Connecticut Media file photo

RIDGEFIELD — With the noisemakers packed up and the confetti cleared away, many are now wondering what the new year has in store.

For Ridgefield, 2022 marks the 245th anniversary of the only inland battle fought in Connecticut during the American Revolution. It also marks the 125th anniversary of the Ridgefield Fire Department.

This year town officials will help guide the continued use of Ridgefield’s American Rescue Plan monies, submit an affordable housing plan to the state and roll out the red carpet to its cultural district — the first in Connecticut.

ARPA funds

Last year Ridgefield received its first tranche of ARPA funding, which totals more than $7 million. An informal working group was established to make determinations on how to use the remaining funds based on guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.

As with normal budgetary proceedings, the expenditures would have to be approved via public hearings, town meetings or a natural referendum.

The group comprises representatives from Ridgefield’s Tri-Board, including: First Selectman Rudy Marconi and Selectman Bob Hebert; Kenneth Sjoberg and Tina Malhotra from the Board of Education; and Mike Rettger and Greg Kabasakalian from the Board of Finance. Economic & Community Development Commissioner Geoffery Morris was invited to join as a seventh member.

Some of the ARPA money has already been allocated for the Route 7 sewer project ($2.9 million) and to reduce the town’s tax rate in this year’s budget ($1.5 million). The group is expected to hold an organizational meeting this month to figure out what other requests should be pursued.

Group members would bring the recommendations back to their respective boards, who would then vote to bring a formal capital request to the Board of Selectmen, who would then establish a public hearing, town meeting or referendum.

Marconi said most of the town’s nonprofit organizations have asked for support via the ARPA funding, with some requests totaling six figures.

Boards and committees

Ridgefield’s crowning achievement in 2021 was becoming the first municipality in the state with a designated cultural district. The area houses numerous attractions and will be marketed by state and local entities to promote tourism in town.

Morris said the board will continue efforts this year to share the town’s arts and cultural assets with people inside and outside Ridgefield.

“With a new lot and major changes with Main Street (coming) in the spring, we plan to have a bold new plan that will free up parking for customers and provide a long-term, stress-free solution for employers,” he said. “As more people begin to appreciate what Ridgefield has to offer, we continue to attract new businesses and residents to town.”

The town’s affordable housing committee is developing an affordable housing plan to submit to the state by June. Although state requirements dictate that the plan must be updated every five years, Committee Chairman Dave Goldenberg said in an earlier interview that the last full plan was compiled in 1999.

The plan will likely include: the establishment of an affordable housing trust fund; transit-oriented development in Branchville; and housing for adults with disabilities.

Events

The 245th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Ridgefield will take place from Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1.

The weekend will feature a live battle reenactment by the 5th Connecticut Regiment, a Musket Ball gala at Lounsbury House and a burial of four skeletons discovered not far from where the battle was fought.

The bones were unearthed between late 2019 and early 2020, and are believed to belong to Revolutionary War soldiers who fought in the battle. Four plots have been located in the old cemetery between North Salem and Maple Shade roads to rebury the bones, Marconi said.

“This is a reenactment that brings a sense of reality and accuracy to what happened in the Battle of Ridgefield,” he added, “and as a result there are reenactors — not just from Connecticut, but the New England, metropolitan New York and Mid-Atlantic (areas) — that will be descending upon our town to witness this very historical event.”

As of now, the town will hold its Memorial Day parade, which was canceled the past two years because of the pandemic. In June, when the fire department marks its 125th anniversary, Ridgefield will host a fire truck parade — “one of the largest … you could ever witness in our area,” Marconi said.