P&Z says farewell to longtime chairman

The city’s Planning and Zoning chairman for the past 10 years, Ruth Parkins, thanked her fellow commissioners for their support as she received a standing ovation for her service at the end of the commission’s Nov. 14 meeting. — Aaron Berkowitz photo

 

After 10 years of serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission, former Chair Ruth Parkins took part in her final meeting Tuesday night.

One week after the results of the 2017 election revealed that Republican candidate Mark Widomski had earned enough votes to take Parkins’s spot on the city’s P&Z, the former chair of the commission wished her colleagues the best of luck in the future.

Parkins added that although she has no definite plans now, she hasn’t closed the door on potentially accepting a position in Shelton government in the future.

“I’m not going to close the door on that, but I have no immediate plans now,” said Parkins. “I am still going to be involved with the Shelton Economic Development Commission, I’m still on their executive board. We’ve got a lot of good things going on downtown, and I still want to be a part of that. I would still like to be somewhat involved with the Naugatuck Valley COG and their transportation study that’s going on on Route 8. So I’ll still be involved.”

Despite being on the receiving end of public criticism for her stance on development within the city on several occasions, Parkins’s last meeting finished with kind comments and a standing ovation from her colleagues.

In a somewhat emotional fashion, as the P&Z’s Nov. 15 meeting came to a close, one by one each commissioner took the time to tell Parkins that she would be missed.

“I know the excellent, excellent work that you’ve done,” said P&Z Commissioner Virginia Harger. “You have come here with the city’s best interest in mind.”

Parkins received kind words from P&Z commissioners from both sides of the political aisle as alternate Nancy Dickal also said that the Parkins would be missed.

“I believe that when one door closes, another one opens,” said Dickal.

Parkins quickly attested to Dickal’s comment by sharing that a new opportunity at her job, the Iroquois Pipeline Operating Co., had presented itself earlier that day.

“It’s going to consume a lot of my time and a lot of travels, so I’m really looking forward to that,” said Parkins.

Commissioner Jimmy Tickey agreed that Parkins will be missed, but emphasized that it’s important for the members to focus on getting new member Widomski acclimated to the ways of the P&Z.

“We have so much work and developments ahead of us to talk about and debate,” said Tickey. “We just need to keep the business going.”

The commission scheduled four separate items to go to public hearings during its Nov. 14 meeting.

Tickey said in order to make Widomski’s transition more smooth, he and the other commissioners have offered to sit with him to review how the commission operates.

Widomski and all of the other candidates who were elected in the 2017 election will be sworn in to their new positions on Nov. 21 at the Shelton Senior Center.

Members of the community group Save Our Shelton (SOS) were present at the meeting but didn’t speak during the public portion. Instead, they sat picket signs on some of the empty chairs in the back of the city hall auditorium that read, “Leave R1 alone,” “Stewards not puppets,” and “You can vote no,” among a few others.

SOS member and creator of the picket signs Maureen Magner said she’s used the signs as a way to express the values of the community group since Shelter Ridge first appeared before P&Z in 2016.

“We decided we would just hang back and just enjoy that we helped to make this change,” said Magner.

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