Kent considers STEAP grant for Swift House renovations

KENT — The fate of the Swift House was discussed by the Board of Selectman at a regular meeting June 26.

BOS revisited an ongoing debate as to what should happen to the historic Swift House — should it be kept in the town for various groups’ use or sold to the private market?

A proposal was made to put the decision to a town vote.

Swift House Task Force Chairman Zanne Charity was in attendance and provided project updates. There is a new blueprint drawing for the interior of the house. There is no new correspondence from State Historic Preservations Office and the group is awaiting news from the National Registry on historical designation status.

She said, “This building’s been closed for four years, and nobody’s been allowed into it…I feel like the task force’s hands have been tied.”

Charity believes it is “premature” to call a town meeting without exposing more interested town groups to the house. BOS disagreed about this process but said groups could visit supervised on Aug. 15 to form opinions on the space.

Selectman Glenn Sanchez said, “All this talk about how we are going to use it, we can’t. We can’t use it until we get funding,” for the list of necessary renovations.

The board then talked about grant options to acquire funding for work at the Swift House. The option discussed was a STEAP (Small Towns Economic Assistance Program) grant, but thoughts were cut short.

Administrative Assistant Joyce Kearns informed Zoom attendees, “The Board of Selectman meeting has been adjourned by the Selectmen at 9:22 due to a power outage.”

A special meeting of the BOS was set for July 1, at 3 p.m. to further discuss the STEAP grant.

Hunt resignation

Prior to the Swift House discussion, BOS reviewed the resignation of Brian Hunt, emergency management director for the Town of Kent.

The letter explained that despite Hunt’s initial optimism, the role posed too many “obstacles,” including “the continued lack of cooperation and communication from the Kent Volunteer Fire Department.”

Hunt expressed frustrations over miscommunications within the department. He also cited issues with the EOC (emergency operation center) and LCD (Litchfield Country dispatch).

Hunt said he wishes to focus more on his personal business, which he did not anticipate impacting his town commitments to such an extent.

First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer said he recently met with KVFD to discuss these challenges: “There’s a lot more we need to work on, but we are getting better.”

Town Hall hours

In an effort to mitigate frustrations from town members and town employees, Lindenmayer proposed reducing the hours of operation on Fridays at Town Hall for the summer months.

His initial suggestion was to close Town Hall at noon on Fridays, but concerns of restricted access to municipal officials was raised by Worthington. Lindemayer moved the proposed closing time to 1 p.m. for the months of July and August.

Worthington voted “nay,” but the revised motion to close Town Hall at 1 p.m. on Fridays for the summer months passed.

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