Welcome Spring – The Season of Rejuvenation!
With spring weather, I always think about the start of baseball season. In Woodbridge, Opening Day is scheduled for April 29 this year. This will be the 51st opening day for the Beth-Wood Baseball League. There will be a player parade to kick off the event, scheduled to start at 10 am at the Town Green. League and local officials will be in attendance and the event will end with a barbecue lunch, hosted by the Woodbridge Volunteer Firefighter Association. If it rains, the event will be moved from the town green to the firehouse.
I’d like to share with you an incident involving our police and fire departments and a senior Woodbridge resident who suffers from dementia. Recently, an emergency call came into our 911 dispatch center. The resident was missing in the overnight hours, likely in a heavily wooded area. A comprehensive search began immediately, involving police, fire, emergency medical personnel, and a police K-9 unit. Two of the 25 Woodbridge volunteer firefighters who were on this call, Charlie “Chuck” White and Paul Konwerski, using a thermal imaging camera, were able to locate the resident after hours of searching. The resident was reunited with his family and was able to get necessary medical treatment. On behalf of our entire community, I thank our first responders for their extraordinary efforts.
The budget process has been extremely challenging. Our goal is always to balance the cost of the town’s excellent schools with the need to provide necessary services, without adding to the tax burden of residents. This year’s original, overall budget request from departments, boards, and commissions would have required a 10.17% mill rate increase. With the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance review and recommendations complete, the increase has been trimmed to a 2.99% mill rate increase. Just as in your homes, private sector costs such as heating oil, natural gas, electricity, and insurance have all increased in the public sector. The impact of global inflation has had a direct effect on all department budgets.
The Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance met throughout February and March and reviewed both the Operating Budget and the Six-Year Capital Improvement Plan. This current reduced recommendation will be presented at the Preliminary Budget Hearing on Monday, April 24. The Preliminary Budget Hearing will be held at the Amity High School auditorium at 7:30 pm.
Following this hearing, the Board of Finance may make additional changes to its proposed budget, which will then be presented at the Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 15. I encourage residents to pay careful attention to the budget process and voice their opinions. The most effective way for residents to share opinions and/or ask questions is at the Preliminary Budget Hearing.
I am pleased to report that a 55+ housing proposal, which was approved by both the Town Plan and Zoning Commission and the Inland Wetlands Agency, is now underway. The project is located at the intersection of Litchfield Turnpike and Bradley Road. Toll Brothers estimates construction will be completed in about three years. This housing project will expand our Grand List with approximately 70 new homes.
In an effort to regionalize services, I recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, approved by the Board of Selectmen, with the Town of Beacon Falls to provide animal control services in a monthly pilot program. Woodbridge is already compensated to coordinate and provide these resources for the towns of Bethany and Seymour.
Following financial approval by both the Boards of Selectmen and Finance, I’m happy to write that the necessary repairs to the Beecher Road School pool have begun. The pool filters have been ordered as well, and we hope the pool will be up and running in the near future.
WGATV-Channel 79 has a new program guide available for residents who do not use YouTube or the internet. Its upcoming schedule will now run as a short post on the station following programming at 6 am, 12 pm, 6 pm, and 12 am. This information is also available on the Town’s website.
The annual Woodbridge Memorial Day ceremony will be held Monday, May 29 at 11 am at the VFW monument in front of the Center Building on Meetinghouse Lane. The keynote speaker this year will be Major General Thomas R. Bouchard, who is the Deputy Commander for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs, United States Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB, Florida. The program, led by Dr. Barry Josephs, will also include patriotic music, a memorial wreath presentation, the Woodbridge Police Department Honor Guard, and remarks by state and local elected officials. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held in the Center Building gymnasium.
Town Library staff will now be coordinating town-wide events like Earth Day 2024 and this year’s Rid Litter Day, to be held Saturday, April 22. Participants will be able to pick up bags and maps at the library between 10 am and 5 pm. There will also be a Friends of the Library book sale!
Please remember to add the Amity Budget Referendum to your calendars. The referendum will be held Tuesday, May 2, from 6 am to 8 pm at the Center Building gymnasium. This is your chance to vote on the regional school district’s proposed spending plan. Absentee ballot applications are available by request at the Town Clerk’s office, (203-389-3424) or online.