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From the First Seletman’s Desk – 12/12/14

Very Happy Holidays to you and your families! As we look forward to the New Year, I want to celebrate with you the very productive year this has been for us in Woodbridge. We are so fortunate to live in this Town where extraordinary natural beauty is enhanced every day by the dedicated work and service of our Town employees and of our Woodbridge residents who volunteer on Boards and Commissions and in so many other ways. Highlights of the year include:

One of my top priorities has been enhancing communications to make Woodbridge residents feel more connected to the Town and to each other. This year, the Town launched a Facebook page (follow us at Facebook.com/WoodbridgeCT) and a weekly e-newsletter (sign up at tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews) to better communicate with residents. We now have 700 subscribers to the newsletter, and the number continues to grow.

Woodbridge Recreation Department employees and volunteers expanded the summer concert series by adding two new features – a Taste of Woodbridge event and a Health Fair. These were very well attended and much appreciated.

There are two major building projects going on – the Public Works Garage is nearly complete and the Beecher Road School renovation project is nearly halfway done. Our building committee’s diligence and hard work made these projects possible, and the employees at Public Works and Beecher Road School helped so much with their patience and flexibility.

Another project that should be completed by early spring is the Pease Place Playground. What an amazing accomplishment for a group of volunteers, ably assisted by Town employees.

The Economic Development Commission launched a website designed to support local businesses and help residents better connect with them. The Town has also benefitted from a renewed vitality in our business district – many new businesses opened and others expanded.

For the first time, Woodbridge held a farmers’ market, hosted by the Woodbridge Town Library. The summer monthly markets featured local farms and local food trucks. The Library even designed library programs to tie in thematically to the farmers’ market.

The programs and produce at Massaro Farm, our community organic farm, surpassed even those of the year before. And we created a stronger bond between the Town and the Farm when the First Selectman was added, ex officio, to the Farm board.

Both schools located in Woodbridge – Beecher Road School and Amity Regional High School – earned prestigious awards from the state and federal governments. Amity Regional High School was named a Blue Ribbon School, one of only 48 high schools across the country to receive such an award from the Federal Department of Education. Both of our local schools were named Schools of Distinction by the State Commissioner of Education. We should truly be proud of our faculty, staff and students.

Based upon the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Energy Advisory Task Force that I appointed last spring, we created the Woodbridge Energy Challenge. There was a very well-attended solar workshop in November and there will be smaller workshops over the winter to educate residents about ways to save energy and save money.

In Woodbridge we benefit from the safety and security provided by our top-notch Police and Fire Departments. Many children and their families also enjoy what is now becoming the Fire Department’s tradition of hosting Truck or Treat, a safe and fun Halloween event.

This winter our Town Library partnered with the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven. Together, they held three joint events about a Steve Martin play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The Library hosted actors and Long Wharf Theater Artistic Director, Gordon Edelstein; made the play available for check-out and hosted a play discussion; and the theater offered discounted tickets to the play. It was a wonderful collaboration that fostered conversations about the arts and big ideas.

The Town Plan and Zoning Commission, with considerable input from Town residents, put in countless hours working on the revised Woodbridge Plan of Conservation and Development. On a parallel track, we focused on the Country Club of Woodbridge property, issuing a Request for Proposals consistent with the recommendations of our consultants. Again, a dedicated group of Town volunteers spent considerable time reviewing the responses and recently reported to the Board of Selectmen, who will now review the proposals.

And of course, our Human Services Department continues its wonderful job of providing a variety of programs for residents, young and old, including collecting and delivering holiday baskets to those in need. You can still donate holiday items until December 17.

Thank you to everyone who made this a great year for our Town. I look forward to working with all of you to make next year even better!

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