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From the First Selectman 3/11/16

“Hacked! Keeping Your Identify Safe in the Information Age” is the topic of our next Wisdom of Woodbridge lecture. I hope you can join us on March 22 at 7 p.m. at the JCC when Yaron Baitch, CEO and co-founder of Woodbridge-based Auth Air, will present this important and informative talk.

Winter has been kind to us, though we have had a few major weather events. Thank you to our Police, Fire and Public Works Departments for their outstanding service to the Town.

Here at Town Hall, we continue our budget focus. The Board of Selectmen has concluded its role and our Board of Finance is now carefully considering spending cuts to balance new costs – debt payment for the Beecher Road School renovation project and our increased share (based on student population) of the Amity Regional School budget. The next steps in the budget process are the Preliminary Budget Hearing on April 25 and the Annual Town Meeting on May 16.

Importantly, I continue my efforts to broaden our tax base and thus lessen the residential tax burden. These efforts include supporting our local business community through visits, publicity and networking opportunities and business sector meetings to hear the ideas and concerns of real estate businesses, health care professionals, and the like.

The Country Club of Woodbridge property (CCW) is a very significant factor for our tax base and our financial picture. My goals are to enhance the Town’s financial strength, preserve the character of Woodbridge and maximize open space, generate funds to be used for other purposes (Senior Center , new recreational opportunities, etc.) and provide a place for our residents to retire. While we may not be able to achieve all the goals or satisfy everyone with respect to any one goal, I believe we can find a solution that is a fair compromise among competing interests.

In order to find that solution, it is absolutely essential that we have a fact-based discussion and well-informed voters. Please remember, the Town cannot buy or sell land without a vote from Town residents.

Here are some facts to keep in mind:

  • The Town bought the property in 2009 for $7 million in order to control development on the site.
  • Total net costs to date, including the purchase price, are ~$9 million.
  • The Town has made three efforts to determine a long-term plan for the property. The most recent was the 2014 RFP that resulted in a proposal from Toll Brothers to pay $7.5 million and build 170 units. The consensus of the Board of Selectmen is that 170 units are too many; there is also consensus (not unanimity) that the Selectmen are open to development on the site.

In continuing conversations with the Selectmen, Toll Brothers has offered two revised proposals:

  • Build roughly 50 large homes on 1.5 acre lots and pay the Town $3.5M. This would result in an annual net loss to the Town of about $450,000, mostly due to additional children in our schools. It would leave little useable open space for the Town.
  • Build roughly 69 individual homes for adults 55 and older and pay the Town $3M. This would bring in annual net revenues to the Town of about $500,000. Under this proposal the homes would be clustered together thereby preserving over 100 acres of open space for the Town.

The Selectmen have also looked at returning the land to true open space without recouping any of the purchase price. Although the original purchase did not contemplate adding the entire parcel to our open space inventory, it is certainly an option (though quite an expensive one) to add it now.

All of this information—and more—is on the Town’s website at www.woodbridgect.org/CCWFuture. If you have questions or concerns about the Country Club or any other topic, please don’t hesitate to contact me at escalettar@woodbridgect.org.

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