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Town Ends Contract With Eichler's Cove Manager

Board of Selectmen approves recommendation to let contract with Carol Marchetti expire.

Carol Marchetti is out of a home and possibly a job.

The Board of Selectmen ruled Monday to let Marchetti's contract to oversee the management of the boat slip rental program at Eichler's Cove expire, which means she will have to leave her home on the property by December. She also will have to look for another job, though she could apply to be a park warden, a new position created as part of changes proposed for Eichler's.

"I would want you to know that we have great value for you, for the service that you have done," First Selectman Pat Llodra told Marchetti prior to the vote. "This is the action that we have to take if we are going to allow this plan to move forward…I know it is hurtful but it is something we are charged to act on and we have to take that action."

The town first contracted with Marchetti, who works and lives on the property, shortly after buying Eichler's Cove from her and her family five years ago for $1.4 million. The nearly 11-acre parcel, which included the house, beach, marina and five cottages, had been in Marchetti's family since 1963. The town added another acre in 2006 from an adjoining property.

The marina features 76 boat slips. Newtown and out-of-town residents pay between $1,025 and $1,475 for each slip depending on the size of the vessel and whether they live in town.

The town had intended to take over management of the boat slip program from Marchetti at some point. Initially the Parks and Recreation Commission proposed eliminating Marchetti's position and hiring a security company to provide guards while a security system could be installed on site.

But then at a selectmen meeting last month during which boat owners came out in force to support Marchetti, saying she provided an invaluable service and personal attention in monitoring the people who come in and out of the cove and keeping tabs on their vessels while they are not there. They also said they worried the town was trying to cast aside long-time, out-of-town marina users in favor of residents.

Parks and recreation officials subsequently revised the recommendations to give existing marina users priority and to hire dock attendants, or park wardens, who would provide a similar service to Marchetti during the day. No one would live on the property and a security firm would be contracted to provide overnight guards during the boating season.

Under the existing contract, the town pays Marchetti a management fee of $37,500, and when combined with costs associated with the home totals about $43,000, according to figures Llodra released. Under the revised proposal, the town would pay a total of about $40,500 to hire a daytime park warden and night security contractor.

The selectmen were in unanimous in their support of the recommendations.

"It really does come down to there's a plan that's been put forward by the folks that have been down to the weeds that have been charged with this plan that calls for future vision that is not solely connected to the existing status quo," Selectman Will Rodgers said. "I'm not prepared to second-guess the town agency that has put so much work into the plan absent any reason to do so. I personally have my doubts whether we are giving up a residential security presence that we shouldn't give up until it dies a natural death."

Rodgers said he would recommend the town send a mass mailing to the boaters who use Eichler's Cove warning them of the change.

Selectman Bill Furrier said he believes Newtown residents would support the proposed changes, which officials said would be the start of making Eichler's Cove a more appealing destination. In the future, the town plans on building a concession stand where Marchetti's home now stands.

"It's not living up to that potential right now," Furrier said of the cove. "I look forward to an improved property…I envision a lot more activity."

Marchetti said in an interview after the meeting that she is mulling her options, including whether she would apply to be a park warden. She said she had hoped the town would extend her contract another year, particularly because plans to redevelop the property, and demolish her home have not been finalized.

Additionally, she believes boat owners will be in shock when they learn of the decision.

"They could have given me one more year to reorganize and regroup, and not just for me," she said of town officials.

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