Darien first selectman candidates meet for third debate
Published 5:50 pm, Thursday, October 27, 2011
The first selectman candidates met for the final time this morning to debate issues ranging from how to improve the lives of residents to ways to address flooding in town.
While the candidates differed on how they would improve the quality of life in town, all three agreed the parking issue needed to be addressed -- however, they disagreed on the best course of action.
"I spent about 20 years commuting, so I've experienced a lot of what the commuters do," Democratic John Lundeen said. "There are glaring differences between Darien train station and Norton Heights and then there are those residents who commute from Rowayton or Talmadge Hill."
To help commuters who use Talmadge Hill, Lundeen suggested making the sidewalk project on Hoyt Street a priority.
"We need to address the sidewalks and I realize this won't all happen overnight," he said.
Republican candidate for first selectman Jayme Stevenson said she also understood the frustrations commuters but said the town would need to address the state of disrepair at the Noroton Heights stations.
"I share John's concerns about the disrepair at Noroton Heights but it would be a very expensive capital project," she said.
As for a solution to help alleviate parking issues, Stevenson said she would speak with commuters to see what they needed and continue looking at ways to cull people from the permit lists.
Like Stevenson and Lundeen, Ultra-Conservative candidate Chris Noe was unsure how parking concerns could be alleviated.
"There really is no way to fix the parking problem. It always has been a problem and always will be," Noe said. "The only thing I can think of is to implement a process where residents share a parking space."
Noe agreed with Lundeen that sidewalks should become a priority to prevent residents from having to walk in the road.
"The sidewalk issue is quite serious because residents are walking in the road because there are no sidewalks. We have to realize this issue is mandatory."
Each candidate had a chance to weigh in with their opinions on how to manage flooding around town.
"We have a problem at Heights Road with flooding but putting a pipe under the highway would be a bit of a stretch," Noe said.
Noe said he believed one of the best options would be to establish a flood control board to study the issue and educate the public.
"Unless you put a hole the size of a garage door under the train tracks you aren't going to be able to get water out of there faster than it is coming in," he said. "We've spent a lot of money on studies and I think we should start from the bottom and work our way up."
As a possible solution to help with flooding, Noe suggested flooding the baseball fields and allowing the water to drain off from there instead of flooding Bakers Woods.
Lundeen agreed with the idea of establishing a flood and erosion control board to deal with the flooding issue.
"This is certainly not a partisan issue," Lundeen said. "I don't think large-scale engineering projects are the right solution. This issue should be a high priority for the town."
Stevenson said after studying the issue she learned of a few issues she believed many residents might not be aware they are doing that has a negative impact on flood control.
"I learned that if you have a streambed on your property and you think it would look nice to line the bed with rocks then you are increasing the velocity of the water and having a negative impact on neighbors farther downstream," she said. "I don't think large-scale engineering projects are right, either. I think small solutions are a step in the right direction and staying on top of the issue."
Thursday's debate marked the third and final scheduled debate for the candidates.