ABOUT TOWN: Up close

Voice of the people, meet power. Or at least the power company.

Can this happen? First Selectman Weinstein mentioned it at the recent LWV of Weston’s “Town Affairs Update.” The idea was formalized at a Special Board of Selectmen meeting last week. Please reserve Saturday, Dec. 8, at 10:30 a.m., in the town hall Meeting Room, for a face to face session with Connecticut Light and Power.

First will be a presentation on how the power grid works. Naturally, you will be able to ask questions afterward. And I assume that the power company will be receptive to ideas on how to improve.

Perhaps this would be a good time to discuss the possibility of Weston becoming energy independent, and to ask how the power company might benefit from encouraging us to do so. An exit from the grid during times of stress might be just what the doctor ordered! Stress particularly comes to the system in the summer, when air-conditioning usage reaches peak levels.

An exit from the grid during such times would be nice. Can we achieve self-sufficiency at those times? What would it take?

In other words, is a win-win situation possible, resulting in the utility company being able to serve all its customers better?

Sustainability triangle

Have you ever thought about what would happen if the basic structure of an organization were turned upside down?

In times of crisis, special functions of government that are not at the top of the organizational pyramid come to the fore. Public works, police, and emergency services personnel become our “Supermen.”

Next on the inverted triangle are special committees. They rally support and volunteers and ideas. Working hand in hand with selectmen and town social service employees, they reach out to neighborhoods and segments of the population having special needs.

The selectmen have the broadest portfolio of responsibilities in normal times. And in natural emergencies it is they who reach out to other levels of government for help, as well as providing necessary coordination.

How to institutionalize all of this? How do major boards and commissions fit in? How does their work relate to sustainability?

Conservation has its inland wetlands regulations, which must be approved by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. I think Conservation has always given focus to sustainability.

P&Z is where the battle is joined, in my opinion. Development pressures vs. sustainability. That commission is on the front lines. Without a sustainability-minded P&Z, Weston as we know it would be doomed!

Last but certainly not least is fiscal sustainability. Although the Board of Education also hews to state of Connecticut rules, it answers to the people when it comes to the budget. And the Board of Finance, with new budget process powers under the new charter, is committed to keeping Weston a financially sustainable community.

NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at aboutweston.com.  This week’s guests are Dan Morley and Dimple Desai of the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.

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