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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Notes from the campaign kickoff meeting and the road ahead

We had a good week of planning for the race to the seat of Mayor here in Wallingford; with 20+ people in attendance to the campaign kickoff meeting and the input received on top of my own personal ideas of where we all want to see Wallingford end up over the next 10 to 20 years.

We have a great platform to solidify and run with as part of the effort of “Moving Wallingford Forward”.

Yes, technology is going to be part of the platform but I am far from laying all of my bets on that; leveraging technology for more ease of access, more open government, more services available will come as part of a calculated effort to streamline work that needs to be done and make our government more efficient. We will find ways to do more with less and by attrition through retirements and promotions we will shrink the cost of Wallingford government as that end result limits some of the tax burden on the taxpayer.

The Incentive Housing Zone will rejuvenate the lower downtown area – that means more businesses, a growing grand list, and more people from out of town spending money here in our Wallingford Center.

The currently ongoing rehabilitation of the rail line through Wallingford as part of the construction for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail program to put a commuter train onto our rails through town is going to be a huge boon to all of this; it will allow people to get to this new and rejuvenated Wallingford Center that can develop over the next 10 to 20 years without the need to bring a car and park it to enjoy Wallingford Center.

The affordable housing that will develop as part of the Incentive Housing Zone would allow for good housing for young adults that would use that commuter rail line to get to and from work anywhere from Springfield to New York City. This would allow our high school students to return back home after college and be able to afford to live in the town they grew up in.

It can also attract young professionals from out of town to discover Wallingford and all it has to offer, allowing Wallingford to “replenish” her aging population with the next generation of adults that will grow up here and have families and call Wallingford home.

This is a classic case of “if you build it, they will come” but we must have the vision and the strategic planning in place for it to happen.

It will not happen overnight; it will take years, but they go by faster than you think.

Most people have enough history and memory to look back 15 years ago and remember a time in Wallingford before places like Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowes existed. A time when there were one or two Dunkin Donuts (and now there are four) as well as a host of other businesses that were not yet established in town like Basil's Pizza Restaurant as well as Jakes and Knuckleheads and Tata's Restaurant.

All these things have come in the past 15 years and most of it has been positive growth for Wallingford; in order to keep that ongoing the momentum must be “forward”.

Greater things are in store for the next 15 if we are willing to commit the strategic planning to make it happen and we as a community want to be “Moving Wallingford Forward”.

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