I am so pleased to begin my term as your First Selectman, and would like to update you on several activities and initiatives. As I settle in and get started on the work ahead, I want to be sure you know I have an ‘Open Door’ policy and welcome your input. I will use this column to provide brief updates and ask you to get in touch should you have questions or ideas you would like to share on these or other topics.
Swearing-In Ceremony: On June 29th under sunny skies on the Woodbridge Green, many gathered to celebrate the newest chapter in the story of our town’s governance. Elected members of the Board of Selectmen, Woodbridge and Amity Boards of Education, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Board of Assessment Appeals, as well as newly appointed Board and Commission members were sworn-in to begin their terms in office. Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman was on hand to administer the oath of office. Friends and family filled the audience at the gazebo on the Town Green to witness the formal ceremony. Following the ceremony, members of the Woodbridge Volunteer Fire Association helped host a reception at the Fire House
Our new appointees, together with all those continuing 4-year terms on our Boards and Commissions, total 103 individuals. I hope that this healthy cross-section of representation will promote thoughtful dialog and open exchange of ideas that will benefit all and better inform our collective decisions. Please join me in conveying our gratitude to these fine people who volunteer their time and effort to serve the public good.
I also want to extend appreciation to all who expressed an interest in serving.. The response was overwhelming and exceeded the number of openings. To all who call Woodbridge home, especially to those who offered to serve but could not be seated at this time, we will continue to ask for your input and assistance, and we will keep you in mind and seek to take full advantage of your generous offer of service.
As I said in my remarks during the Swearing-In ceremony, “As residents of Woodbridge, we are privileged to live in a charming and bucolic town, surrounded by natural beauty. I am committed to town government that is open, inclusive, and transparent – that promotes discussion and healthy debate while valuing civility and mutual respect.”
The July meeting of the Board of Selectmen: At the first meeting of your new Board of Selectmen (BOS) on July 12th, we considered several topics that deserve our continuing attention as we begin the new fiscal year and move into our budget development process in the fall. As part of my First Selectman’s Report, I shared some initial observations about the former-Country Club property that I recently toured. There are areas that are currently being mowed by our Parks Department personnel, as well as other areas that are now deliberately being left un-mowed, where birds and other wildlife are nesting.
In late June the Town contracted with a consulting Field Botanist who will provide an environmental assessment and make recommendations for future care of the property. His report is expected in mid-August. I will ask him to present his findings and recommendations at a public meeting of the Board of Selectmen, at a date to be determined.
Based on this environmental report and input from our Town departments, the BOS will establish our goal for the maintenance and appearance of this property. The BOS will first determine the extent of work to be completed for this fiscal year, and secondly what should be included for these purposes in the annual operating budget for the longer term (fiscal year 2018-19 and beyond).
It is my hope that the Board of Selectmen will remain open to evaluating other uses and offers that may arise, but for now let me be clear that I am committed to the use of this property for passive recreation, under the same rules and regulations that are in effect on all other Town-owned property. Please stay tuned for more news as we move forward with due diligence to address these and other ongoing concerns.
Beth Heller is Woodbridge First Selectman. She may be reached by phone at Town Hall, 203-389-3401, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.