Bears, politics and bridges all on the summer agenda

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Summer is here! Fourth of July, strawberries, swimming, summer camps, vacation and, dare I say it, travel! Already our Granby social and recreational organizations are holding their typical seasonal face-to-face get-togethers. I now see actual smiles, not just smiling eyes, when visiting our grocery and hardware stores. It has been a long road through the pandemic—now let’s enjoy summer! I know the Drummer staff will, as we do not publish an August issue. Here are my predictions for what we might be facing by the time the next Drummer is published in September:

BOS to create an ordinance against intentional feeding of bears

Granby bears will have to find their own food. Since before the pandemic began, it was known that a few individuals in Granby were intentionally feeding bears and creating dangerous conditions both for the bears, and for nearby Granby residents. Now, the Granby Board of Selectmen (BOS) have agreed to create an ordinance against intentional feeding of bears to address the escalating public safety issues. While the proposed ordinance still has several legal process steps to go through, including a public hearing, it is likely that by the time the next Drummer is published that the issue will turn from enacting legislation to enforcing the law (aka ‘the will of the people’). Will offenders voluntarily refrain from the soon-to-be-illegal action, or will town officials have to enforce the law through imposing fines and taking other legal action against these residents? If you would like a bear-resistant trash container, put your name on the waiting list at DPW (860-653-8960).

Town Management will be undergoing change. Granby is actively seeking applicants for the position of Town Manager, with interim, and former, Town Manager Bill Smith hoping to have his next successor in place by the end of the summer.

For sure, by the next issue our local political parties will have determined—though the July caucus process—their candidates for November’s municipal elections. This includes the entire BOS, which is elected every two years, as well as many other boards and commissions. Both parties are actively seeking residents interested in serving in public office, and unaffiliated or minor party candidates can also apply to be on the ballot. Granby runs on volunteerism—see how to participate in the other postings in this issue. 

Granby demographics are shifting. Did you know the Granby political landscape has changed with registered Democrats (2,433) now outnumbering registered Republicans (2,414)? Unaffiliated voters still outnumber either major party, but why did the tipping point come now? One thing we do know: the number of Granby homes sold were up over 30 percent during the pandemic versus the previous three-year average. Do you wonder about who left, who moved in, and how Granby’s demographics are evolving? Maybe by fall we will know more. Meanwhile, welcome to Granby, newcomers! Hope you all enjoy it here as much as we have.

Infrastructure improvements will be visible—in ways both positive and negative. Over the summer, road overlays should be completed on several major town roads (Barn Door Hills Rd, Bushy Hill Rd, Canton Street Extension, Case Street and Edgerton Road). Hungary Rd and Griffin Rd will undergo some temporary road closures for long-planned-for bridge repairs. And, while the new roundabout at the former “Five Corners” is fully functional, the State plans to start construction work on the Town Center intersections in early fall, the start of a multi-season project to expand turning lanes and increase driving safety. A long-term benefit, but expect some short-term pain.

Will the former Kearns School be in new hands. With the retention of a sales agent and a post-pandemic economy looming, at least one potential buyer has expressed interest. While a lot could change over the summer, the likelihood of a sale should increase as the economy rebounds. Call me an optimist, I just hope the property once again becomes an asset contributing meaningfully to our quality of life here in Granby.

I hope you enjoy your summer, your property and your neighbors. Be mindful of the ever-increasing bear population in our rural-residential town, and support your local businesses and especially our awesome local growers. Food, flowers, fruits and more abound in Granby; live well and prosper!

—Jim Lofink