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From the First Selectman July 2021

July 1 begins our new fiscal year, and there will be several new elected members of the Board of Selectmen. Additionally, this brings many new volunteers who have offered to serve on our many boards and commission. Please join me in welcoming these folks who help guide and advise our town. I also send a big thank you to those who are leaving after their terms are completed. We are so blessed in Woodbridge to have so many wonderful and talented residents who serve us all!

I am looking forward to serving another term as your First Selectman, and working together as we rebuild our community post-pandemic, continue to improve our Town Center, support the business district, grow our grand list, and cautiously re-open more services as the pandemic subsides. The kindness so many of you have shown me over the past four years has been so much appreciated.

One of my first goals is for the Board of Selectmen to present a list of projects to the public for a vote. The Town would need to borrow to accomplish these projects:

  • Convert the Old Firehouse into a beautiful new Community Center and create a storage facility for the Fire Department to house materials that have been stored in two bays at the Old Firehouse since 2006
  • Renovate and update the Senior Center so that our seniors will have a modern, fresh, welcoming and air-conditioned space
  • Add a sidewalk to connect Amity Regional High School with the Library and Old Firehouse to better connect our Town Center
  • Refurbish three roofs at Beecher Road School
  • Remove the clubhouse and outbuildings at the former Country Club of Woodbridge

Borrowing rates are at historic lows so now is the time to take on a project of this magnitude. As prior projects are paid off, our debt service continues to decrease. Therefore, the debt service from these proposed projects will have minimal impact on our budget.

Just recently Moody’s Investor Service renewed the Town’s Aaa credit rating saying, “Woodbridge’s credit position is superior and its Aaa rating far surpasses the median rating of Aa3 for cities nationwide.”

Together these projects will transform the center of our Town into a more dynamic, active and attractive place that will help us create and sustain the sense of community that is sometimes hard to come by due to our geography. Coming out of an historic horrific pandemic, I believe that community building is even more important than ever.

Our community continues to come back! This season we have celebrated Earth Day, held a chalk art party and community tag sale as part of the Summer Second Saturday series, and the Library has held several outdoor concerts as part of Woodbridge Unplugged. In July, the Recreation Department is bringing back the very popular summer concerts, and the Friends of the Library will host a book sale. Sign up for the Town’s enewsletter and emergency contact list on the Town’s website – woodbridgect.org – to stay up to date on these, and many more events.

We are also working on improving the business district and attracting more people to shop and dine there. Thanks to a grant from United Illuminating, the Town is organizing an outdoor concert series on Coachman Square’s lawn (21 Bradley Rd.) starting with klezmer big band Nu Haven Kapelye on Saturday June 26 at 1 pm. Local businesses will offer specials on these concert days so be sure to shop, dine, try Woodbridge!

The Town also applied for funding through the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program to add sidewalks on the western side of Amity Road to connect the Bradley Road area down to the border with New Haven.

Additionally, the Town’s 2030 Task Force is looking at additional ways to improve the business district so that Woodbridge is more attractive to businesses and customers. They are also exploring ways to diversify and grow the Town’s grand list.

Meanwhile, the Town’s Housing Study Committee is examining how to meet the State’s affordable housing goals. After a long public hearing regarding an affordable housing application, the Town Plan & Zoning Commission agreed to allow multi-family housing in areas with sewer and public water supply. The housing committee is now working with the South Central Regional Council of Governments to come up with a State-mandated plan for affordable housing in our town.

Lastly, I have good news about the pandemic: According to the State Department of Public Health, more than 70% of Woodbridge residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! That does not mean that we should let our guard down. It is important to remember that many cannot or choose not to get vaccinated and children under age 12 are not yet eligible. I am very optimistic about getting back to normal, but we are not out of the woods yet.

Currently the Governor’s executive order regarding virtual meetings is set to expire June 30. If it is renewed, then I will ask that boards and commissions discuss among themselves if they prefer to meet in person or continue online. Those that wish to meet in person can do so beginning July 1. If the order is not renewed, then all meetings will begin in person on July 1. Masks and social distancing will be required, and meetings will be held in rooms that allow for social distancing and proper ventilation.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any ideas or concerns. I can be reached at bheller@woodbridgect.org or 203-389-3401.

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