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Weston Officials Push for Better Tree Maintenance

WESTON, Conn. – First Selectman Gayle Weinstein had harsh words for Connecticut Light & Power's lack of storm preparation at a recent public forum.

“They really do not put any plans in place until after the storm hits,” Weinstein said. CL&P’s response, she said, “is the No. 1 significant problem in place.”

Weinstein, Police Chief John Troxell and Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer spoke to 30 residents who showed up at Town Hall to ask questions and get at a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of town government during a significant storm. The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Weinstein said town officials, with the help of the Department of Homeland Security, come up with a plan two to three days before a big storm. During that time, town officials get plans in place from the Department of Public Works, school officials and emergency management and public safety officials to ensure the overall safety of the town. But during Hurricane Irene and the pre-Halloween snowstorm, Weinstein said, CL&P did not have plans in place to aid Weston residents.

During the recent snowstorm, she said, CL&P did not give Weston officials updates on power restoration efforts until two days into the emergency. This frustrated town residents who found themselves in the dark as well town officials, who couldn’t let residents know what was happening. “To me, not knowing was the worst thing,” Weinstein said.

Trees were to blame for the massive outages in Weston and across the region, Weinstein said. Some residents may not want to trim trees on their properties for aesthetic reasons, she said, but something needs to be done to ensure the safety of power lines and prevent outages.

But it’s not just residents who need to step up to the plate, she said. CL&P needs “to be responsible for the maintenance of those power lines,” Weinstein said. She said she would support any town ordinance or regulation mandating power line maintenance. “I will sign whatever I need to sign to get that going.”

Town officials have discussed setting aside money in the town budget just for tree maintenance but said that would be costly. The past two storms have left officials feeling that they can no longer rely on CL&P for help.  “We are going to figure out what the town can do to insulate ourselves from CL&P,” Weinstein said.

“Tree trimming and taking care of that kind of maintenance need to be our No. 1 priority,” she said.

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