As of June 30th I will no longer be your First Selectman – my good friend and colleague Beth Heller starts her two-year term on July 1. I am delighted to congratulate Beth, the Board of Selectmen and all the new and returning board and commission members and thank them for their service to Woodbridge. The Town will be in capable hands that will guide us through the challenges ahead.
I have learned a great deal serving my fellow residents as First Selectman and will miss many aspects of the job. At the same time, I look forward to spending more time with my aging parents and my young granddaughters. I also will be teaching a course at Yale Law School in the fall and pursuing other interesting opportunities.
We have accomplished so much in my four years as First Selectman: the Beecher Road School energy- and safety-focused renovation project, the microgrid project, earning an Energy Star award from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and a Green Circle award from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, passing a strengthened gun ordinance and creating the Town’s new newsletter, to name just a few.
Other projects and challenges are ongoing. The Country Club of Woodbridge property has been resolved, at least for now. The Board of Selectmen considered numerous ideas and proposals centering on golf and/or partial development of the property; most were withdrawn and others were rejected by the Board. In the end, the Board decided that the only viable option at this time is to end golfing activity and use the property for passive recreation while remaining open to future development proposals. If you have not been there recently, please stop by to view the beautiful vistas and the returning butterflies and birds! The current mowing schedule will assure that we don’t disturb these habitats, while controlling the growth of unwanted invasive plants.
We are ending this fiscal year with a budget surplus thanks to prudent planning and management, but the state budget impact on Woodbridge—and all Connecticut towns and cities—for the coming fiscal year is still unknown. I am so pleased that the Heller administration is taking over a town in such solid financial health. We are as well positioned as we can be to deal with the serious challenges ahead, especially the State’s fiscal uncertainties.
Another important issue is adding a restroom to the Senior Center. Currently The Center (as it is now known) is served by two bathrooms upstairs, but none in the lower area where our senior residents spend more time. We have grant money to make this project possible, but the paperwork involved has taken longer than foreseen.
Another project that we’ve initiated is renovating the Old Firehouse. The Town has a $500,000 grant from the State and an ad hoc committee is working with an architectural firm to determine the most prudent use of those funds for improvements that will be necessary regardless of the building’s future use. More money will still be needed to make the building fully functional and it will be up to the next Board of Selectmen to determine the best use of the building.
The next Board will also be finalizing projects for which we have already received State grant funds, such as the animal shelter and police station improvements.
None of these past or future accomplishments would be possible without our Town’s spirited residents, generous volunteers and dedicated Town employees. I would especially like to thank Tony Genovese, Betsy Yagla, Gerry Shaw and Town Counsel Jerry Weiner for their outstanding work on behalf of the residents of Woodbridge and for the help and support they have given me over the past four years.
Thank you for allowing me to serve you and to learn so much about our great Town.