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From the First Selectman – 11/20/15

Happy Thanksgiving! In addition to being thankful for family and friends, we in Woodbridge can be thankful for our wonderful neighbors and Town employees who enrich our lives in so many ways.

This November I initiated a “Person of the Month” recognition as a way to thank and highlight some of these extraordinary people. Our first Person of the Month is Bob Tucker who, as Assistant Scout Master of Boy Scout Troop 63, led a committee involved in planning, designing and constructing a pavilion at Camp Whiting on Town property. The pavilion was named in memory of Alfredo Canepari, a Boy Scout who passed away last year from leukemia. If you know a Woodbridge employee, resident or volunteer who’s gone above and beyond expectations, please nominate that person by contacting Betsy Yagla at byagla@woodbridgect.org or 203-389-3403.

November also saw two other community events that I have created to help bring us all together. One was the second in our Wisdom of Woodbridge lecture series. These lectures are co-hosted by the Woodbridge Town Library and the JCC. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee spoke about trash and recycling on November 17. The first lecture was by Dr. Mary Papazian, President of Southern Connecticut State University who spoke about the future of higher education. The next two lectures, by Nancy Yao Maasbach in January and Yaron Baitch in March, will be at the JCC Living Room. Here again, we are fostering stronger ties with our community partner, the JCC.

I hope you had a chance to take advantage of the other community event that I had initiated last year — our Town Library partnership with Long Wharf Theatre. This year the Library is focusing on Long Wharf’s production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. The first event was a behind-the-scenes talk with the play’s costume designer. Next month there will be a theater workshop for teens at the Library and a “Woodbridge Night” at the theater where Woodbridge residents will receive a discount on tickets and be invited to a pre-play reception. Additionally, the Library is offering Library cardholders two free tickets per night to Long Wharf plays all season long.

One area where we are working hard to find common ground in the best interest of the Town is the future of the Country Club of Woodbridge property. It is the single most important financial decision facing our residents and it is crucial that we base our discussion and consideration of options on facts: not hyperbole, not wish lists, but facts.

To that end, the Boards of Selectmen and Finance have been meeting together to review the history of the Town’s purchase of the property, expectations at the time of purchase, costs thus far, anticipated additional costs and how the CCW expenses impact other Town projects and goals. You can review all of this information at www.woodbridgect.org/CCWFuture.

As we discuss the CCW, it is important to understand the role this property plays in the Town’s budget. The Boards of Selectmen and Finance will soon start the capital budget process in which we plan for long-term needs. Debt from purchasing the Country Club of Woodbridge, along with other bonded projects (i.e, the Public Works building and the Beecher Road School renovation), makes it more difficult to consider other much-needed projects such as the emergency services radio system, upgraded police facility, old firehouse restoration and senior center improvements.

A few key points to keep in mind:

  • Net cost to Town thus far

(including $7M purchase price):                                                         $   9,080,244

  • FY 2016 budgeted expenses

(net after estimated budgeted pool revenues)                                                  $     653,673

  • Significant future capital needs are anticipated at the CCW – In addition to the estimated $500,000 5-year capital requests for the golf course and pool, additional anticipated needs have not been priced out but could cost the Town millions of dollars.

I hope you will take the time to familiarize yourself with the facts as we move ahead on the CCW. Town property can never be sold without a vote by the residents: the final decision rests with you. Knowing the facts will be crucial in making an informed decision.

To stay up to date on this and other issues, follow us on Facebook (Facebook.com/WoodbridgeCT), sign up for the Town’s email newsletter (tinyurl.com/WoodbridgeEnews) and visit the Town’s website, www.woodbridgect.org.

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