Very Happy New Year to you and your families! As we look back on 2016, I am pleased to report that our Town maintained its solid financial footing and its commitment to high quality services. I want to celebrate with you the very productive year this was for us in Woodbridge and thank the dedicated Town employees and volunteers who made it all happen.
First and foremost, we kept close watch on Town spending and passed a budget in a difficult situation including a significant increase in spending outside of our control (our share of the Amity school budget). Despite all that, we kept tax increases to a minimum and created a budget that reflected the values and priorities of our Town: providing award-winning education, assuring public safety and maintaining and investing in the Town’s infrastructure.
The outstanding professionalism of our Finance Department and Board of Finance was once again recognized with a Aaa bond rating, a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.
At Beecher Road School, we completed the energy-focused renovations and saw a smooth transition to a new superintendent, Bob Gilbert.
There was another major staffing change: this spring we welcomed Frank Cappiello to serve as our new Chief of Police.
We continued to promote clean energy and going green. The fuel cell that will power the Town center microgrid has been installed at Amity Regional High School and construction of the microgrid (to be powered by the fuel cell) is to begin this spring. Three of our municipal buildings earned the “Energy Star” certification; the Woodbridge Energy Challenge earned us free solar panels that will be installed on the Library roof; and we continued to pursue a solar installation on the capped landfill.
We also maintained our commitment to strengthen communication between Town Hall and Town residents and to promote our sense of community. This included: the Recreation Department’s summer concerts, the Farmers’ Market, the Library’s partnership with Long Wharf Theatre; the One Book/One Town community read; the Conservation Commission’s monthly guided hikes; an expanded Woodbridge Day; and a very popular local version of the Antiques Roadshow.
We continue to grow our email newsletter (sign up at tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews) to let you know about community news and events and we regularly post on Facebook and on our new Town website www.woodbridgect.org, which now includes a community events calendar.
Economic development continues to be an important priority. We hosted Business After Hours networking opportunities; invited local businesses to speak at the Economic Development Commission’s monthly televised meetings; held the second annual Restaurant Week; designated a committee to create a signage plan to guide visitors around the Town’s business district; and continued First Selectman’s visits to promote local businesses.
We made important decisions about the future of the Country Club of Woodbridge property. The Board of Selectmen did not have sufficient support to send the Toll Brothers proposal (to purchase approximately 1/3 of the property for $5M and build 80 homes) to the residents for a vote. The more popular proposal to purchase the entire property for $3.5M and create a new golf course in conjunction with the Yale Golf Course was rejected by Yale. At this time, the Board of Selectmen is exploring how to convert the property to open space with enormous potential as a Town park that over time could include walking and biking trails, an ice skating rink, wildflower gardens and more.
Thank you to everyone who made 2016 a great year for Woodbridge. In 2017, working together, we can do even more!