Fairfield Has Run Out of Time, is About to Lose Flood Insurance Discount


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To the Editor:

Since 2018, because of the actions of Senior Management employed during the Tetreau Administration, the Town has been subject to a Notice of Violation (NOV) due to the non-FEMA compliant construction of Penfield Beach Pavilion.  The Town was warned repeatedly by FEMA as early as 2016 that there would be repercussions if the Tetreau Administration mistakes were not corrected.  Worse, that management team, all direct reports to Tetreau, were warned not to proceed as they ultimately did or risk project funding.   At the time it was an election year.  Tetreau was under pressure to get the building open.  Rather than doing the right thing, those direct reports chose to take those warnings and file them in a drawer, literally.  Now, we all get to pay for the mess.  And pay we must.  We have no other choice, the contaminated fill dumped under the Pavilion and in the parking lot must be removed.  That’s a regulatory non-negotiable. 

Then there is the matter of the actual construction violations with the building beams.  The building cannot remain standing with beams that are not in FEMA compliance, NOV is very clear. Fix it or suffer the consequences of non-compliance.  What does that mean exactly? It means you are about to lose your flood insurance discount. FEMA is starting the process right now to exercise their right to downgrade Fairfield’s flood classification, which means money out of your personal pocket to purchase insurance. Real money, more personal expenses.

The First Selectwoman tried to bring the Penfield corrective action solution to the Town bodies in November, but leadership from the majority party on the BOF and the RTM wouldn’t have it.  Rather than letting the process play out in public meetings, they demanded documents ahead of public meetings and delayed public discussions for months.

Now, we have run out of time. If the Town bodies don’t vote soon, residents are about to get a bigger flood insurance bill. This is a real problem, that needs a bipartisan approach to fixing it, this should not be a political football.  Fairfield Democrats need to stop looking for political gotcha moments, as displayed in the Town Hall meeting by Majority Leader Zezima, which was embarrassing. The Democratic First Selectman caused this mess, it’s time Democrat leaders in this town denounce what took place and put their partisan antics aside to work with the FSW who got left with this mess, or the residents will continue to suffer further consequences from their delay. 

James Ward
Fairfield, CT