On September 24, First Selectman Ellen Scalettar held a Woodbridge community meeting to address several areas of concern to residents in the neighborhood generally referred to as The Flats, including traffic, blight, flooding and more. To fully address these concerns, Ms. Scalettar invited an engineer from ConnDOT along with several Town Department Heads to provide information and updates and to listen to residents’ concerns. I was extremely proud that our First Selectman was addressing the needs of a community I feel very much a part of.
Unfortunately for those residents that attended the meeting in order to have their voices heard and to receive information, there were a few individuals present who were quite disrespectful in their conduct and comments. The points of critique this group of residents brought to the floor ultimately distracted attention away from the primary goals of the meeting and created a divisive environment within a setting intended to provide a forum for all.
For example, I found it particularly offensive that these few individuals continually referenced the area as ‘the flats’, using a condescending tone and insinuating that others look down upon residents within this community’s geography. What a terrible insult to the fine residents of this community—a community that is the foundation of our Town.
Additionally, several attendees stated that no one had listened to their concerns for over 10, 30 or even 50 years – a counterproductive approach given that First Selectman Scalettar has not served for decades. Rather than welcoming the opportunity to share concerns now, attendees chose to criticize her for past neglect in which she had no involvement. Ms. Scalettar is working to create change, and she should have been treated with more respect. I commend her for the professionalism and respect she displayed to all those in attendance, despite the disruptions she faced.
This is an area of our Town that has unique issues, and Ms. Scalettar chose to hold this meeting directly within the community in order to understand these unique needs and to connect with residents. I was floored when some criticized her for not holding this meeting at Town Hall when the very goal was to address the specific issues facing this neighborhood.
Despite the heckling and rudeness of some, Ms. Scalettar and her guests conducted themselves quite professionally, treating residents with respect and exhibiting genuine concern. After the meeting, staff members were energized by discussion around what issues could be fixed quickly and projects that are already underway. Traffic and flooding are not always easy fixes, but the team is addressing them head-on.
Woodbridge was the first place I called home and although our family moved away when I was quite young, this is the community that embraced me when I came back to Woodbridge almost 10 years ago, and it will always be very dear to my heart. This lovely community, home of the founding families of Woodbridge, deserves so much better than to have a few individuals try to make a misplaced political statement and detract from the kind, thoughtful, hardworking people who shape this Town into a Woodbridge we all can be proud of. It is people, not politics that should be the focus of our work.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Talamelli-Cusick is currently serving as Chairman of the Woodbridge Democratic Town Committee