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From the First Selectman 11/22/19

Town Hall has been very busy these past few weeks as we have entered fall and are heading into winter. 

At the November Board of Selectmen meeting, our counsel for the sale of a portion of the former County Club of Woodbridge, David Groggins, updated the Board in executive session about the progress of contract negotiations related to the sale of the former Country Club property. 

Recent comments in letters to the editor speculating that the unanimous vote of the Board of Selectmen to postpone the Special Town Meeting and Referendum was done because residents were “asking intelligent questions and the administration realized that they have not done their due diligence.”  Nothing could be further from the truth. The Special Town Meeting and Referendum were postponed because the Board agreed that, in the interest of transparency, we should have a fully negotiated sales agreement in place, prior to the referendum vote for all residents to review. I hope that at our December Board of Selectmen meeting we will review the final agreement and decide on the dates for the Special Town Meeting and Referendum. Every household will receive a mailing with both dates and the text of the yes/no vote.

Additionally, the Board voted unanimously to reserve money to engage the services of a landscape architect or land-use analyst to help us decide how best to use the undeveloped land retained by the town at the former Country Club property. I am committed to doing this, whether or not the approximately 60 acres are sold for the development of senior housing.  I have proposed that a portion of the unsold land be used for a beautiful park with perhaps a picnic area, sledding hill, walking trails and a splash pad. These improvements could be funded by using a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the 60 acres.

Also at our November Board of Selectmen meeting, members paused for a moment to remember our Building Inspector, Inland Wetlands Officer and Zoning Officer Terry Gilbertson who passed away on October 28. Terry had worked for the Town since 1998. In Terry’s absence, our Building Office staff has stepped up to fill the void, and we have also hired a part-time, interim building inspector, Andy Rizzo. Andy worked as a Building Inspector for the City of New Haven for approximately 30 years. We ask the public to be patient as our entire staff grieves this loss and we look at the best way to fill this important position. 

We have invited all Woodbridge businesses to a Business Happy Hour on November 20 at the Woodbridge Social. This will be a great opportunity to meet other business “neighbors” and learn about the work being done by the Economic Development Commission. If anyone is interested in attending please RSVP to Betsy Yagla at 203-389-3403 or byagla@woodbridgect.org. 

As we approach the winter months, our Recreation Department has recently purchased a removable/portable ice skating rink, which will be installed this winter at the Center Road tennis courts. This group has also discussed holding a hot chocolate event at the skating rink – we will keep you posted for this fun community event.

I’m proud to announce the publication of the Town’s first-ever Holiday Guide, which highlights holiday events in November and December. This poster is the kick-off to seasonally themed posters that will showcase the many wonderful businesses, organizations and events we enjoy in Woodbridge.  The next poster will focus on health and wellness events and promotions during the months of January and February. If your business or organization has a health-related event or promotion, please contact Betsy Yagla at byagla@woodbridgect.org or 203-389-3403. To request a poster for your business, please contact Betsy. 

The Town plans to finish the next step of renovations at the Old Firehouse by the end of the year.  The work is funded through a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant. This work follows a terrible fire in 2006. I believe it is finally time to review and decide uses for this building and I have provided the Board of Selectmen with background documents on various groups that have considered the question. We must determine how the building will be used before we can have an architect develop drawings, get a cost estimate, and eventually propose funding.  I invite you all to think about how the Town should use the building. If you have ideas please reach out to my office at 203-389-3401 by Wednesday, December 4 so I am able to share your ideas with the Board of Selectmen prior to our next meeting on December 11. The Board of Selectmen will soon make a definitive decision on the uses, so this project can move to completion.

One final note – I would remind everyone that the Amity Regional School District Referendum is scheduled for December 4. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be two questions on the ballot to bond for facilities, and grounds improvements. The project’s total cost is $6.7 bonded over 10 years.

I welcome your thoughts on any of these issues. As always, my door is open to Woodbridge residents. Please call me at 203-389-3401, or email me at bheller@woodbridgect.org.

Publisher’s Note: In the November 23rd issue, the above column from Woodbridge first selectman Beth Heller inadvertently had the first 5 paragraphs omitted. We apologize for this error and to Ms. Heller for any embarrassment this may have caused.

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