Flood insurance costs will increase for Fairfield residents

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For anyone concerned about the current situation at Penfield Pavilion, let’s take a deeper dive. In support, the city was repeatedly warned by FEMA in 2016 that there would be consequences if the Tetreau administration’s mistakes were not corrected. The management team (all of whom report directly to Tetreau) were told not to proceed or risk project funding – unfortunately, they eventually chose to proceed, completely ignoring FEMA’s warnings. Instead of doing the right thing, these direct reports chose to literally put these FEMA warnings in a drawer. Why? It’s easy. It was an election year and Tetreau was under pressure to open the building. As a result of the actions of management engaged during the Tetreau administration, Fairfield has been subject to a Notice of Violation (NOV) by FEMA since 2018 for non-FEMA compliant construction of the Penfield Beach Pavilion.

Now we all have 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 of all, the contaminated fill under the gazebo and in the parking lot must be removed. This is a regulatory non-negotiable. Then it’s about the actual construction injuries in the construction beams. The notice of violation is clear that the building cannot remain standing with non-FEMA compliant beams. The consequence of not fixing it means… We, the residents of Fairfield, will lose our flood insurance discount. FEMA is NOW beginning the process to exercise its right to downgrade Fairfield’s flood classification, which means we have to take money out of our personal pockets to get insurance.

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In November of last year, the First Selectwoman attempted to submit a corrective action plan for Penfield to city officials, but majority party leadership of the BOF and RTM refused. Instead of letting the process unfold in public meetings, they blocked the process – demanding documents before public meetings and delaying public discussions for months.

This is not meant to be political theater – this is the future of our city. We need our democratically elected Fairfield officials to stop looking for political pitfalls, as demonstrated 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 will (literally) pay if the ridiculousness doesn’t stop NOW. I ask the Democratic leaders of this city to denounce what happened, put aside their partisan antics, and cooperate with the government that has been left with this mess, or we as Fairfield residents will continue to suffer the consequences of their delay.

We’re running out of time, friends. If our city boards don’t vote soon, residents will be getting a bigger flood insurance bill. This is a real problem that requires a bipartisan approach to solve.

Sarah Matthew
Fairfield, Connecticut

Matthews in a Fairfield Beach Area resident