Flood Insurance Costs Will Rise for Fairfield Residents


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To the Editor:

For all those concerned about the current Penfield Pavilion situation, let’s take a deeper dive. To back up, as early as 2016, the Town was warned repeatedly by FEMA that there would be repercussions if the Tetreau Administration mistakes were not corrected. The management team (all direct reports to Tetreau) were told not to proceed or risk project funding — unfortunately, they ultimately decided to proceed, completely disregarding the FEMA warnings. Rather than doing the right thing, those direct reports chose to take those FEMA warnings and file them in a drawer, literally. Why? It’s simple. It was an election year and Tetreau was under pressure to get the building open. So, because of the actions of Senior Management employed during the Tetreau Administration, Fairfield has been subject to a Notice of Violation (NOV) by FEMA since 2018 due to the non-FEMA compliant construction of Penfield Beach Pavilion.

Now, we all get to pay for the mess. And we have to pay because we are at the point of no return, and we have NO other choice.

Prolonging this situation further is not an option. First, 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 Notice of Violation is clear that the building cannot remain standing with beams that are not in FEMA compliance. The consequence of not fixing it means… We, Fairfield residents, will lose our 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 our personal pockets to purchase insurance.

In November of last year, the First Selectwoman tried to bring a corrective action plan to the Town bodies for Penfield, but leadership from the majority party on the BOF and the RTM wouldn’t have it. Instead of letting the process play out in public meetings, they stalled the process — demanding documents ahead of public meetings and delaying public discussions for months.

This shouldn’t be political theatrics — this is the future of our Town. We need our Fairfield’s Democratic elected officials to stop looking for political gotcha moments, as displayed during the Town Hall meeting by Majority RTM Leader Zezima and Selectman Leftkowitz. This is getting ridiculous, and now we’re at the breaking point where we’ll be paying (literally) if the ridiculousness doesn’t stop NOW. I am begging the Democratic leaders in this town to denounce what took place, put their partisan antics aside, and work with the Administration who got left with this mess, or we, as Fairfield residents, will continue to suffer further consequences from their delay.

We are out of time, friends. If our Town bodies don’t vote soon, residents WILL get a bigger flood insurance bill. This is a real problem that needs a bipartisan approach to fixing it.

Sarah Matthews
Fairfield, CT

Matthews in a resident of the Fairfield Beach Area