Eligible citizens in Woodbridge (either registered voters or those owning personal property or vehicles valued over $1000 listed on the Grand List) will have an opportunity to attend the recessed in-person Annual Town Meeting on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 6:30 pm at the Woodbridge Fire House at 100 Center Road. Bay doors will be open providing ventilation to keep residents as safe as possible, as we gather for this most important meeting during the COVID 19 pandemic, and there will also be outdoor space available on the site, weather permitting. We continue to do all we can to keep residents safe. Masks and social distancing will be required at this in-person meeting.
The Town always holds the Annual Town Meeting on the third Monday of May and this year the Board of Selectmen voted to convene ours virtually, due to the pandemic, but the virtual format and our Town Charter requirements became incompatible. Every attempt was made to allow folks to virtually “join” the meeting, but the process was difficult and very time consuming. The Board of Selectmen decided to recess the meeting in order to hold an in-person annual meeting on June 2, so that everyone can be heard. Following the recessed meeting, the Board of Selectmen met on May 19th, and voted unanimously to hold the recessed meeting in-person, and provide a safe adequate space so the meeting might be held in-person. According to the Woodbridge Town Charter, if 250 eligible residents (or more) are in attendance at the meeting, residents will have an opportunity to vote on each line item to increase, decrease or eliminate any line item in the budget. The entire budget cannot be voted on – it must be voted on line by line.
As a reminder, each year, the Town’s budget process begins in the late fall and during the winter, when department heads make requests that are then vetted at public meetings by our Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen. This year’s budget was presented to the Preliminary Budget Hearing in April at which time residents had an opportunity to ask questions or make comments. You can see the proposed budget and Preliminary Budget Hearing presentation and video of the hearing on the Finance Department page on the Town’s website. I would strongly encourage everyone to attend the Annual Town Meeting on Wednesday June 2.
To update everyone on a continuing matter, the Town recently received notice that Verizon/Cellco has filed its application to the State Siting Council seeking approval to erect a 100-foot tower at 118 Newton Road. This is a private transaction between the resident and Verizon/Cellco. The company’s stated goal is to improve coverage on Routes 67 and 63 near the intersection of the two. The company originally planned to erect a 140-foot tower. Over the past several months, the Board of Selectmen has offered multiple alternative sites to Verizon, and also engaged an attorney and engineer familiar with working on blocking these cell towers in residential neighborhoods. This is extremely disappointing news, and the Board of Selectmen will discuss how we want to proceed at our next meeting on June 9th. I will personally do all I can to work against this. I would urge residents to stay involved.
- Remove the clubhouse and outbuildings at the former Country Club of Woodbridge. No matter how the property is used in the future the removal of these buildings will be necessary;
- 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 in the Old Firehouse;
- 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;
- Refurbish three roofs at Beecher Road School.
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 a pandemic I believe that community building is even more important than ever.
A major goal of mine is to create community. In December 2018, the Board of Selectmen adopted the Woodbridge Town Center Campus Beautification Plan that outlines many of these goals and objectives.
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 Schafer and her family. A dedicated group of residents created and self-funded the very popular dog park at the Fitzgerald Tract. The Town purchased and installed a shuffleboard court in the Grove. We are holding outdoor events, concerts and movies this spring and summer, including acoustic concerts at the Library, concerts on the Green and free, family-friendly Second Saturday series of events, including a community tag sale on Saturday, June 12, the Library book sale in July, an art event in August and a craft fair/makers market in September – sign up to be a vendor on the Town website.
We are exploring grants and donations to install benches and other seating for our municipal grounds. There is also a donation program to install flowering trees to line the Fitzgerald Field walking tract along Center Road where trees were removed as part of United Illuminating’s vegetation management program. Details about bench and tree donations are on the Recreation Department website.
We are also looking to bring more people into the business district, and thanks to a grant from United Illuminating, the Town is organizing an outdoor concert series on Coachman Square’s lawn (21 Bradley Road). Local businesses will offer specials on those days so be sure to shop, dine, try Woodbridge!
As we work on bringing people together, we continue to follow the State Department of Public Health’s advice and, in order to protect residents and staff, we will require masks in Town buildings and will follow guidance for large outdoor events. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any ideas or concerns – stay safe Woodbridge!