As a new year begins I’d like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2019. January is a good time to look back over the past year to see what was done, what is in progress, and determine new initiatives we hope to accomplish in the future.
Among the accomplishments we can list for 2018 are the following initiatives:
- Phase I of the Animal Shelter renovation is rapidly concluding and should be finishing up by late January/early February. This long-needed project was made possible by a generous donation from One Big Dog Animal Respite Fund, a local charitable organization that supports our Regional No-Kill Animal Shelter.
- As you drive along Center Road, you may have noticed the Police Department Carport and Radio Antenna installation that is also expected to be completed soon. This project was funded by a state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant. In addition, our project to upgrade the Emergency Simulcast Radio System, authorized in December 2017, is also making good progress and should be completed in the near future.
- In late 2018, the Town of Woodbridge received word that we have earned Bronze Certification from the Sustainable CT program. We were honored with a plaque at the annual CT Conference of Municipalities event in October. Importantly, this certification opens the way to future grant opportunities that should help us advance our future sustainability efforts. During 2018, we completed a LED Streetlight upgrade, with the assistance of the United Illuminating Company. This project is saving money and helping our environment by allowing our Town to be more energy efficient.
- Progress on improvements of the Senior Center are also well underway. With grant funding from the state’s Small Cities program, we are constructing a new handicap-accessible bathroom and a ramp to make access to this level of the Center Building more welcoming to our seniors.
- With the planting in late autumn of Arden’s Garden at the entrance of the Town Green opposite Town Hall, we have begun to beautify the Town Center. We have put together a comprehensive Beautification Plan to guide additional public/private partnerships that will allow residents to contribute to enhancements of this area, which is available to review on the Town website.
- The Board of Selectmen also came to consensus on a plan for the shared use of space in the Old Firehouse. As work on this renovation project continues in 2019, the Town will again benefit from STEAP grant funds.
- As January begins, we are wrapping up another grant-funded project to improve the sound system in Town Hall’s Main Meeting Room, made possible by our area’s Cable Advisory Council.
In addition to the above, we have some initiatives that will continue to move forward in 2019:
Former-Country Club property
About 200 people attended a Special Board of Selectmen meeting on December 17, 2018 in the Center Gym to hear presentations regarding proposals for the former-Country Club property by two developers. There was also an opportunity for public comment and questions to the developers. These presentation materials are now available for review, along with a link to the video recording of the meeting, by visiting the Town website at: woodbridgect.org.
At the conclusion of the meeting, I provided an update regarding next steps the Selectmen will pursue. We will initiate a Constructability Review – this will be an overview from an engineering perspective to identify any issues that may come up regarding the land in question for each of the proposals. We expect that this will take several weeks.
Once this Constructability Review is completed, we will look to schedule another Special BOS meeting to review these findings. The timing of this is yet to be determined, but is expected toward the end of January. Again, I will continue to keep the public informed and I thank you for your continued interest and comments as we explore these options.
As always, in January our Town’s Annual Budget setting process for the next fiscal year is in full swing. Next, in a series of meetings at the end of January, the Boards of Selectmen and Finance will jointly take a careful look at each and every operating budget request to be sure we are balancing the needs of Town government with the reality of our bottom line so we can minimize impact on our mill rate.
As we move forward with planning for our Town’s future, please remember that I always enjoy hearing from residents. If you have ideas or feedback you would like to share, please be in touch!
Beth Heller is Woodbridge First Selectman. She may be reached by phone at Town Hall, 203-389-3401, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.