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From the First Selectman 5/22/20

The Town of Woodbridge, and our entire world today, look very different than they did just a few months ago.  We continue to work together to fight this insidious disease that has crippled our nation.  By staying home and wearing a mask while out in public YOU are doing your part to help save lives.  Your cooperation and patience have been wonderful.

We are also working hard to keep each other safe, and informed, and to provide a safe workplace for our staff so they can continue to serve you, our residents.  Please join me in thanking all Woodbridge employees for being flexible, responsive, and understanding during these unprecedented times.

If you have not yet done so, please sign up to receive the Town’s e-newsletters.  In normal times, the emails are sent monthly but they are now being sent weekly.  Sign up here:  tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews.  You may also follow news from the Town on Facebook for daily updates at Facebook.com/WoodbridgeCT.  Previous e-newsletters and other local Coronavirus updates are available on our town website at at woodbridgect.org/COVID19.  The e-newsletter and Facebook page are full of timely information including the number of positive cases (and deaths) in Woodbridge, opportunities for residents to help, business guides, and links to other important information.

Our Town buildings have been closed to the public since mid-March.  The Transfer Station remains open during regular hours to residents with permits.  Most Town services are available over the phone, via email or by curbside drop off or pick up, including the donation of food and masks to help our Human Services Department help our residents.

Town staff are beginning the work of thinking through how and when our buildings will re-open to the public.  As a former nurse, wife of a physician with an MPH in Statistics and Epidemiology, and mother to a son who is a Public Health physician in New York City, I take these matters very seriously.  Both continue to warn me that we must not take this lightly.  It is incredibly important to me that we do this in a thoughtful and measured way.

Safety of all has been, and will continue to be, my most important objective.  This means that we may open more slowly than other towns.  As we’ve seen during these last two months, our employees are devoted, smart, and creative and we have been able to provide all essential services to our residents remotely.  This will continue as long as necessary – we will continue to be able to run the Town and also keep people safe.

Governor Lamont has announced that certain types of businesses – restaurants (outdoor only), hair salons, some retail shops and offices (work from home is encouraged) – may reopen starting on May 20th if they follow certain guidelines outlined on the State website (ct.gov/coronavirus).  No business is required to reopen on May 20.

A collaborative, difficult decision between members of the Recreation Department and the Town has been made to cancel the most popular Woodbridge Recreation Camp for this summer season.  This was perhaps one of the hardest decisions we have had to make during this pandemic.  Despite the Governor’s Executive Order allowing this, there were many regulations and guidelines that must be in place prior to opening.  Safety procedures for staff include wearing of personal protective equipment, however over a dozen vendors that were called could not deliver the gowns, gloves, masks, and shields by the opening date.  The items are very expensive.  Another regulation insisted that custodial services require that a bathroom be completely cleaned constantly following use by children.  Additionally, rules require that children be in groups of no more than ten, which would add more counselors and supportive staff, and social distancing of six feet between each child would prove almost impossible.

As you may be aware a new COVID-19 related illness in children has been found in many states, and little is known about it at this time.  As of this writing, ten children in Connecticut have developed this rare disease.  It is believed that this illness is connected with the coronavirus, somehow influencing the body’s immune system, but the correlation with COVID-19 has not yet been proven to be a cause of the inflammatory disease.  Saving lives has always been paramount to every decision we have made, and our concern for the health of the children of Woodbridge remains a top priority.

The good news is that the Woodbridge Recreation Department WILL be offering a Virtual Camp for six weeks from June 15th through July 24th.  Camp will run from 10 am to 12 noon.  The cost is $30 per week for the first child, $20 per week for the second child and $10 per week for the third child.  A fourth child or more per household will be free.  Please stay tuned for further information as these plans develop.

Whether or not our local businesses have chosen to open on May 20, you can still support them!  Some service and retail businesses are offering gift cards, restaurants are providing to-go meals and wellness practitioners are providing relief remotely.  Visit the Town’s business website for details at woodbridgect.org/business.  Now more than ever it is important to “Shop Woodbridge, Dine Woodbridge, Try Woodbridge.”

At our recent May 13th Board of Selectmen Regular meeting, members moved forward on two items.  The Board is working collaboratively on finishing a new agreement between the Town and the Amity Woodbridge Historical Society.  Several outbuildings at the property will be repaired and repainted.  We have also taken the opportunity to correct several building code and fire safety issues in the building prior to installing a new caretaker/tenant.  The Darling House is a valued treasure in our Town, and I look forward to the day when the Society again hosts the very popular Tavern Nights, and the summer Ice Cream Social.

Secondly, the Board voted unanimously to sign a Letter of Intent with the Connecticut Green Bank to explore installing non-penetrating solar panels on the roofs of both the new Firehouse and the new Public Works facility.

I am so very proud of ALL our townspeople.  The caring and hard work everyone has shown to keep us safe is unprecedented.  I remain hopeful that we will get through this.  We are staying apart now so we can come together later!

As always, my door remains “virtually” open to you.  Residents may contact me with any questions or concerns at bheller@woodbridgect.org or 203-389-3401.  Thank you and please keep safe.

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