First Selectman’s Update

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Melissa Mack

By way of tradition, I have used my November update as a “year-in-review.” It’s a great way to share with residents our accomplishments and keeps me accountable for the goals I’ve set. We all know that building a solid foundation is the key to a successful outcome. Whether pertaining to a new home, relationship or business, building a solid foundation takes a great deal of both time and attention. And that’s pretty much how this year has been spent, building solid foundations to advance town initiatives. I feel confident that because of this focus, great things are in store for Suffield in the coming year.

We started the year with a boom, demolishing the Ffyler Place outbuildings and igniting discussion about where to move the Highway Garage to transform this vital area for future commercial development. Multiple proposals are currently under consideration by the Board of Selectmen and Finance with decision-making imminent. Simultaneously, abatement grit blasting at Kent Memorial Library begins as I type these words. Barring anything unforeseen, the Library’s move from its temporary location at Ffyler Place will follow. The progress on these two projects coincides with final decisions for Town Hall. I am hopeful that the hard work and due diligence that brings us to this juncture results in a new, cost-effective Town Hall that we can all proudly support. Look for a Town Meeting seeking resident approvals by the end of the year.

On a smaller scale, but important as well, this year saw the reorganization of a number of departments. New leadership along with staffing changes at Parks & Recreation provides a great jumping off point to enhanced programming and customer service. We expanded both the hours and the role of our Youth Services Manager in response to demonstrated needs in our community relative to mental health and substance abuse. Youth Services found a new home at the Senior Center, which more fully utilized the facility and shepherded well-received intergenerational programming. The town and schools collaborated to effect shared Information Technology services. This not only resulted in the successful town wide implementation of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology but also decreased redundancies; created economies of scale; and aided resident safety with 24/7 IT backup. The Public Works Department was reorganized to assure better oversight of town projects and properties. Working regionally with the neighboring town of East Granby, we hired a shared Economic Development Consultant to help navigate our business growth including Ffyler Place.

The Town of Suffield has consistently worked to fortify its financial foundation. As a community, we tend toward the conservative side which not only helped us weather this year’s State budget challenges, but also puts us in a strong position to advance our capital projects and obtain favorable bonding. While grant opportunities diminished in 2018, we were still able to secure nearly $1.4M, notably $800K in support of the Suffield Housing Authority, and $500K via the Main Street Investment Fund Grant. Additional undertakings, including switching insurance carriers and accepting ash disposal at the landfill, promise supplementary sources of revenue.

Regarding governance, the Town Ordinances were updated and are now pending final approval. The State mandated revaluation nears completion. A Community Calendar was launched as a new website feature to publicize town events and happenings. Over 74 acres of beautiful farm land were preserved for the enjoyment of all.

I close another year proud of our achievements, grateful to our residents, and excited for the big changes to come!

Please remember to exercise your civic responsibility and VOTE! on Tuesday, November 6 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Suffield Middle School.

See you at the polls!

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