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From the First Selectman – March 2021

This month marks the one-year anniversary since COVID-19 changed our world and our Town.  These are difficult and lonely times, but they are also hopeful.  Woodbridge is among the municipalities with the most residents having received a first vaccine shot.  As of this writing, we are in fact the third highest in the State of Connecticut.

Our Human Services Department is doing a yeoman’s job of helping residents get vaccinated.  They were able to hold an on-site clinic here in Woodbridge working with our partner, Quinnipiack Valley Health District (QVHD), to vaccinate 70 of our town’s most vulnerable seniors.  They have driven residents without transportation access to vaccine appointments out of town and have helped dozens of residents get appointments at QVHD’s North Haven vaccine clinic.  As of March 1, residents age 55 and up and educators are eligible; on March 22 eligibility will expand to residents age 45 and up.  If you need help making an appointment, please visit the Town website and fill out our vaccination form.  You may also call the Human Services Department at 203-389-3430 for further assistance.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown, Woodbridge Together, a new organization created by Amity Regional High School student Tina Burland, is selling luminaria kits and all the profits will go to the Woodbridge Rotary Club’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.  Luminaria will be set up in front of people’s homes and on the Town Green on March 13.  To donate please visit www.woodbridgetogether.com.

A major goal of mine over the past few years has been to create community through events and improving our public spaces.  As more residents get vaccinated and as the weather warms up, we are looking to plan more outdoor events.  It is difficult to make plans in this ever-changing pandemic environment, but I’m hopeful that we may still be able to hold some safe and meaningful events and programs.

On April 1 at 9:30 am, the Community Council will hold another Virtual Welcome Coffee for new residents.  The members plan to hold these “coffee and” events quarterly.  At the first coffee, new residents moved from as far away as California and as close as New Haven.  If you have a new neighbor on your block, please reach out and welcome them and encourage them to review the “Welcome Guide” on the Town’s website under the Community section.  Event details will soon be on the Town’s Facebook page and Town website.

On April 19 the Town will hold a virtual Preliminary Budget Hearing.  Keep an eye on your mailbox for details about this meeting.  This will be followed by the Annual Town Meeting in May.

On April 24 we will safely join together outside for an Earth Day event.  We plan to offer electronic recycling, mattress recycling and more.  You may also pick up a compost bin and/or rain barrel.  We are selling these products at a discounted rate through a partnership with the South Central Regional Council of Governments.  A link to purchase these items is on our Town website (www.woodbridgect.org).  Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to the date!

We are working with the Town Library to organize an outdoor series of small concerts.  If you are a musician looking for exposure and an audience, please visit the Town or the Library’s website to sign up for a chance to participate.  Its vision is to hold acoustic concerts on the Library lawn on Thursday evenings this spring and summer.  Residents are encouraged to picnic (socially distanced, of course).

In addition to events to bring people together, we continue to work on improving our physical assets.  In December 2018, the Board of Selectmen adopted the Woodbridge Town Center Campus Beautification Plan that outlines many goals and objectives.  This plan may be viewed on the Board of Selectmen page on the Town website.

A problem that is somewhat unique to Woodbridge, is that our commercial center is separate from our municipal center and both are set apart from most residences.  This, combined with our semi-rural nature, means that we are often physically isolated from public gathering spaces, and from each other (even when it is safe!).  My goal is to make the Town Center Campus an inviting, easy-to-navigate, attractive public gathering space that encourages residents to linger and interact.  This, I believe, will create a stronger sense of community.

Currently the Board of Selectmen is exploring how to accomplish some of the major goals in the plan, specifically finishing renovations at the Old Firehouse, and creating a beautiful, multi-purpose Community Center, which could be used by everyone, completing renovations at the Senior Center and then creating a sidewalk connecting the high school with the Library.  Other projects in the Beautification Plan are relatively inexpensive, such as additional seating and signage.

Many aspects of the Beautification Plan have already been achieved – the garden and benches on the Town Green were created through a donation from Robin Gordon Schaffer and her family, in memory of her mother, Arden Gordon.  A dedicated group of residents created the very popular, lovely dog park at Fitzgerald Tract.  The Town purchased and installed a shuffleboard court in the Grove.  Despite last year’s interruption due to COVID-19, the Recreation Department and the Library are tentatively planning to hold concerts and movies outside on the Green this summer.  Other improvements have been made to Town buildings.  We will continue to investigate cost effective ways to do so much more.

We are exploring grants and donations to install benches and other seating for our municipal grounds (you can see the bench donation form on the Recreation Department website, woodbridgect.org).  We are working on a project to create the Town’s first bike route and install a few bike racks through a crowdfunding campaign with a matching grant (learn more and get the link to donate on the Town’s website).  If that campaign is successful, we may use the same process to fund signage to direct people to amenities in Town and to create signs and maps for our many trailheads.  We are also seeking input from residents on how to make The Grove (the space between the Old Firehouse and the Library) more user friendly.  You can share your opinion in a short survey on the Town’s website.

I hope that you are as excited as I am about the possibilities and opportunities the future holds for us, both in terms of TOGETHER, seeing the end of the pandemic and making our Town Center an active and attractive place.  Please feel free as always to reach out to me at 203-389-3401 or bheller@woodbridgect.org.  Please stay safe!

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