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Board of Selectmen: MIRA Opt-Out, Library Conflict, “Ban”, Human Services, 190 Sharon Tpke (Again), May 29 Town Meeting

The Goshen News - Staff Photo - Create Article
Although a plan had been discussed to move the site for a new Public Works storage building to the lot behind the firehouse, the Fire Co. has opposed a new, shared free-standing building and favors expansion of its existing facilities.
Eric Warner & Staff Writer


1st Selectman Todd Carusillo requested a needs assessment from the Public Works Department and Goshen Fire Company for their proposed new storage addition to the back of the Fire Department building. If a needs assessment is not received, the selectmen will have to create a needs assessment task force for the proposal. (Note: The Fire Co. has since advised that they already provided a needs assessment in January and presented it at a Selectmen’s meeting on May 7th).

Marianne Stilson suggested the selectmen reduce the number of boards residents can serve on simultaneously, “There are various people in this town who are on two, three, four boards and have just gotten appointed again.”

The selectmen received a letter from the Goshen Republican Town Committee, recommending Jared Dennis to be appointed as an alternate member to the Planning and Zoning Commission to fill former PZC alternate William Clinton’s position. Dennis is a Vice President of the Goshen-based Fay & Wright Excavating Inc. rock crushing company. His appointment was unanimously approved.

Recreation Department Director Erin Reilly is looking for local businesses to sponsor Camp Cochipianee to help support camp finances and purchase supplies. The Recreation Department’s budget will increase by $30,000 to pay older employees filling Junior Camp Counselor in Training positions. The camp has struggled to recruit teenagers to fill these roles, so adults have had to fill them. Camp fees are not expected to increase. Camp will start in late June.

Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) waste fees will increase to $131 per ton in July. Carusillo suggested the town opt out of MIRA’s three-year contract ending in 2027 and find a different vendor for lower costs. He expects to save $15 per ton if Goshen utilizes a different vendor. No specific vendor was identified. Goshen has until June 30th to opt out.


A new Town Planner and new Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO) have been hired following Martin Connor’s resignation. Connor had served in both roles. Janell Mullen is Goshen’s new Town Planner. A Sharon native, Mullen is the Town Planner for Cornwall, Morris, and Warren and additionally serves as a Land Use Officer for Canaan, Falls Village, and Warren. Spencer Musselman will serve as Goshen’s new ZEO. Musselman additionally serves as the Land Use Administrator for Litchfield.

Selectman Dexter Kinsella motioned to add two alternate positions to the Housing Plan Committee. This was unanimously approved. He then nominated Building Subcommittee member Andrew Savage and Library Board of Directors member Josephine Jones as alternates. Savage was unanimously approved but Jones did not receive votes from either Carusillo or Scott Olson. “Josephine Jones did not submit a letter in a timely fashion,” Olson explained, in declining to support her. “I just didn’t think it was appropriate to consider that.” Board of Assessors member Adam Andrusia was then nominated as an independent alternate and was unanimously approved.

The selectmen discussed an information package received from Goshen’s Human Services Taskforce. Carusillo believed the taskforce originally proposed establishing a volunteer position to support people with addiction or substance abuse problems, but a letter from the taskforce proposed hiring a paid employee at $20 per hour for 10 hours per week. Taskforce member Janet Hooper explained, “We have wonderful volunteers. Whether it’s the Good Neighbor Fund, whether it’s the food bank… The bits and pieces aren’t horrible, they’re wonderful but it’s not enough. We need some way to coordinate and then also to case manage. Just because you put a Band-Aid here, doesn’t mean there aren’t other issues.” The task force previously applied for a $15,000 Sharon Community Foundation grant to fund this position but it was denied due to a lack of support from the selectmen. Olson did not support creating the paid position as the expenditure would not go directly to people in need.

It was announced that a town meeting will be held on May 29th to approve transferring STEAP Grant funds from the 190 Sharon Turnpike property to the Goshen Fire Company at 181 Sharon Turnpike. The plan to build a storage facility for the Fire Company and Public Works Department was being changed in response to community backlash. The selectmen will conduct a feasibility study of the property before the town meeting is held. (Note: When the official Town Meeting announcement was read on May 7th, the STEAP grant transfer was not listed on the agenda.)


First Selectmen Todd Carusillo called for the public to stop calling the removal of the book Gender Queer: A Memoir a book “ban”. “The book is not banned,” said Carusillo. “The book Gender Queer is not banned from the library so people posting that, it’s untrue. [The] book is in the library.”  The book was improperly removed from the Goshen Public Library in 2023 by Carusillo and Library Board of Directors Chairperson Henrietta Horvay, contrary to the library's policy, after receiving unofficial complaints from community members. A new donated copy of Gender Queer has since returned to the library’s shelves. (Note: According to the American Library Association, a book challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict texts by individuals or groups while a book ban is the removal of texts from a library. As Gender Queer is now returned to the library, by the ALA definition its past improper removal can properly be considered a temporary ban.)

Carusillo received several emails calling for an unidentified member of the Library Board of Directors to be fired. He advised that an elected town official cannot be fired and that the individual told Carusillo she would not resign. Selectmen Scott Olson claimed one member of the community is spreading misinformation about Gender Queer and that the misinformation is “destructive” to the community. He further called for the public to stop calling the removal of the book Connecticut’s first book ban. “When we go out of our way to willfully misrepresent the facts that surround the book… [and] you tell the people in this town that we could potentially be the first library in Connecticut to ban a book, that is just not true.”

The 18th annual Goshen Stampede received all approvals from the state police, fire marshals, fire commissioners, and Torrington Area Health. The Rodeo and Gymkhana event will run from Friday, June 7th to Sunday, June 9th at the Goshen Fairgrounds later this Spring.

Donna Molon submitted her letter of resignation from the Human Services Taskforce. Lee Kennedy submitted her letter of resignation as the commission clerk for the Library Board. Kennedy explained that she resigned due to how board members interacted with each other in their April meeting. “We watched as the library director was basically bullied in public in front of everybody and it was pretty horrendous in March, the first time I saw it,” Kennedy explained. “I was shocked. I have worked all my life in a managerial position, and I’ve never seen anybody spoken to like that… I can’t even be in that room. That room is intimidating, it’s frightening, and it was horrendous.”


Scott Olson addressed community concerns with the new proposal for a storage facility at 190 Sharon Turnpike and its non-listing on April’s Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) agenda. “The application wasn’t made in time to get this issue printed onto the agenda of Planning and Zoning’s meeting and the optics of that are not good,” Olson explained. “I don’t believe for a minute that there was any ill intent on the part of anybody who sits on this board.” The new facility is 35 feet shorter in length than the original 160-foot-long design proposed in 2023 and would have six bays instead of eight.

Carusillo proposed the creation of a needs assessment committee for the Public Works Department and the Fire Company. Selectman Kinsella suggested members from both departments serve as consultants to the committee. Olson claimed the committee would “bog us down” and he would rather have the departments themselves tell the selectmen what they need. According to Carusillo, this new proposal would only be used for a backup if the Town cannot build behind the existing Goshen Fire Company at 181 Sharon Turnpike.

Olson motioned to temporarily withdraw the application from the PZC due to all the discourse it’s causing in the community. Olson said he believed the new application was made to preserve a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant. He thought the town had one year to secure the grant, but Carusillo revealed in this meeting that we “...have two years to secure the monies for the grant...Two years and then two years to spend it, so four years total.” Accordingly, Olson thought there was no need to push the PZC application. Neither Carusillo nor Kinsella seconded Olson’s motion.

The board unanimously reappointed Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) alternate Mark Beeman and member Matthew Grosclaude. ZBA member Bruce Arsego resigned from the board. A Republican and another alternate seat remain vacant.

Carusillo said he spoke with Library Board Chair Henrietta Horvay regarding allegations of bullying taking place in April’s meeting and she claimed that no bullying of any kind took place. GOP Town Chairman Tony DeMarco submitted a formal complaint against Library Board clerk Lee Kennedy. “Immediately following the meeting, Miss Lee Kennedy, a paid scribe for the meeting, approached me, breaching my personal space in a threatening manner,” DeMarco claimed. “She said ‘Tony DeMarco, I know who you are and I’m so disappointed in you. You’re a homophobe and I’m gay’…As she spoke, she poked me in the chest with her finger multiple times.” DeMarco wants Kennedy’s minutes of the meeting to be removed and for Kennedy to be terminated. Carusillo sent his complaint to the labor attorney for review.



First Selectman Todd Carusillo announced that the Woodridge Lake Property Owners’ Association will host a seminar with the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) about how to safely live with black bears on Tuesday, May 21st. The program will be held at the Association's Clubhouse at 260 East Hyerdale Drive. Residents must call the association's phone number (860)-491-3424 or follow instructions on information sheets being distributed by the Town to register for in-person or remote Zoom participation. The Association’s Board of Directors approved their Safety Committee’s recommendation for three speed humps to be installed along Shelbourne and East Hyerdale Drives and have requested them from the Town as a matter of public safety. “Apparently East Hyerdale is the focal point getting down to the clubhouse and a lot of people walk to the clubhouse or walk their dogs or walk for exercise and apparently there’s a lot of speeding,” Carusillo explained. “... We have that in about $15,000 in major roads to take care of the speed humps on East Hyerdale.” The humps are based on plans used in West Hartford. Once a hump’s location is determined, a two-inch-deep chunk of the road will be removed for the hump to be installed. The 3-inch-high humps are expected to be six-feet-long and will allow snowplows to readily pass over them as opposed to typical, taller speed bumps. Signage will be placed at each hump. According to Carusillo, most speeding complaints in town come from Beach Street, East Hyerdale, East Street North, Lyman Lane, and West Street.

Inland Wetlands and Water Courses Commission Vice Chairman Allen Kinsella will resign from the commission on Saturday, June 1st. Selectman Dexter Kinsella motioned to appoint Andrew Savage to fill Allen Kinsella’s vacancy on the Inland Wetlands and Water Courses Commission. This was unanimously approved. The Affordable Housing Plan Committee will have a meeting on Saturday, May 11th at 10:30 am at Town Hall. This is the committee’s first meeting. Summer Camp at Camp Cochipianee will officially begin starting Monday, June 24th till Friday, August 2nd. Camp access to the general public will be prohibited from 8:30 am to 4 pm during camp hours.

Fire Commissioner Seth Breakell presented a needs assessment for the Goshen Fire Company. This was originally presented to the selectmen on Saturday, January 27th. The assessment was made with the proposed addition in mind for the Fire Company building at 181 Sharon Turnpike. Two versions were drafted, one which kept an existing staircase in place and another that would remove the staircase. “We did not have any intention of putting a stand-alone building behind the firehouse which came up last week as a shared building with Public Works,” Breakell clarified. “That’s new to me.” No feasibility study has been conducted yet for the proposed addition and an estimated cost for the addition is unknown. Breakell claimed that the study is not in the Fire Company’s “expertise” and requested the selectmen hire a design professional to conduct the study. The addition would help store an upcoming $1 million firetruck. Breakell wants to preserve the space behind the building for potential future projects, “That’s why we came up with an addition to accommodate the equipment we have coming in the next couple years as well as reserve the space behind the firehouse for future expansion as the town grows, as the needs of the town grow.” According to Carusillo, the Public Works Department still hasn’t completed a needs assessment.

Goshen will have its annual town budget and special meeting on Wednesday, May 29th at Goshen Center School’s cafeteria starting at 8 pm. The meeting will vote on the town’s budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year, authorize the Board of Selectmen to apply for and receive state or federal grants for the town, elect one member to the Board of Education starting in July, and enact a farm machinery tax exemption ordinance.