Mayor’s Updates – End of 2018

I hope you’ve had blessed holiday season and that this past year has been healthy and rewarding. And I wish and pray that 2019 remains safe and full of happiness for all of us.

I want to provide you with updates from the past many months. The Town Council has been busy and been able to accomplish quite a bit. Please accept my apologies for the long update and feel free to read at your leisure.

COCA COLA BOTTLING COMPANY EXPANSION:

Coca Cola will invest $42 Million in South Windsor.
I am happy to share that the Coca Cola Bottling Company has expanded in both East Hartford and South Windsor. The collective partnership of both towns will not only save, but expand hundred of jobs in the region and bring about more investment and positive economic growth in our town.

CAMBRIA SUITES HOTEL:

Cambria Suites Hotel will be starting construction in 2019 on what would be the first hotel in South Windsor.
A few months ago, the company applied and received building permits in South Windsor. The hotel would be located at Evergreen Walk.

RED HEAT TAVERN:

Red Heat Tavern Restaurant has opened its first Connecticut location in South Windsor.
Under the parent company Burton’s Grill, the restaurant is located at the Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk.

THE SOUTH WINDSOR APPLE STORE:

The South Windsor Apple Store has reported that it is performing 20% above expectations.
The Apple Store at Evergreen Walk, which arrived during my first term as Mayor, has only continued its local success in 2018.

THE WILLIAM SONOMA STORE:

The William Sonoma Store at Evergreen Walk outperformed its West Farms Mall counterpart in 2018.
The company decided to close their store at West Farms Mall, while keeping their branch in Evergreen Walk.

HARBOR CHASE OF EVERGREEN WALK:

Harbor Chase of Evergreen Walk is planning to construct a 111,976 square foot assisted-living facility with 111 units in South Windsor.
The facility will begin construction on its property in 2019, which will be located at 151 Buckland Road and total 4.8+ acres.

HANNOUSH JEWELERS:

Hannoush Jewlers began construction on their new location in South Windsor.
The store will be located at the corner of Buckland Road and Deming Street, next to Farmington Bank. It is slated to open in 2019.

TEMPUR-PEDIC SOUTH WINDSOR OPENING:

Tempur-Pedic opened its first Connecticut location in South Windsor this year.
The flagship store is located on 1 Buckland Road.

ELECTRO-METHODS INC:

Electro-Methods Inc. is planning an expansion of two additional industrial buildings in South Windsor.
The buildings will be a combined 75,394 square feet on property located at 519 Nutmeg Road. Electro-Methods Inc. already has three South Windsor buildings. These new additions will result in even more additional high paying jobs in our community.

EVERGREEN CROSSINGS RETIREMENT COMMUNITY:

Resort-style retirement community coming to South Windsor.
The groundbreaking of Evergreen Crossings Retirement Community occurred on October 9, 2018. The construction of the luxury retirement facility in our town is already underway.

CT VALLEY BREWING Co.:

South Windsor-based CT Valley Brewing Co. opened in 2018.
The brewery is independently owned and operated by a South Windsor family. It is located at 765 Sullivan Avenue.

CLIMB MEDICAL GROUP:

Climb Medical Group opened October 2018 in South Windsor.
One of my colleagues, Dr. Chad McDonald, opened his medical practice in our town, which is dedicated to treating all kinds of addiction-related diseases.

ZEN SPA NAILS:

Zen Spa Nails opened on December 10, 2018 in South Windsor.
The nail salon is located on Ellington Road.

VIONIC:

Vionic debuts its first retail store on the East Coast in South Windsor.
After an extensive market research process, the Australian footwear company selected our town to be its first East Coast location.

CREATION OF REGIONAL CENTER FOR DIGITAL INVESTIGATIONS:

The Town Council voted for a Regional Center to enhance our community’s ability to combat cyber crimes and increase our collective investigative capabilities using digital forensics. The Regional Center for Digital Investigations opened in 2018 and will increase South Windsor’s capacity to protect our community, including our children.

TRANSPARENCY TASK FORCE CREATION AND THE UNANIMOUS BIPARTISAN APPROVAL OF TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS:

The task force, as well as the public, appreciate that our town volunteers, employees and elected officials do an admirable job in out-reach, communications and transparency. Here are areas of opportunity that have been communicated to the Manager and Asst. Town Managers for implementation:

  • Digital audio recording of the boards and commissions should be available on the town website and towns smart phone app so that if anyone in the community who may want to listen to the conversations should be able to access it.
  • Timeliness of agendas and minutes on town websites for the various boards and commissions.
  • Increase information about the availability of “Connect South Windsor” app to people.
  • Increase presence (with appropriate oversight) through social media.
  • Education opportunities for citizens to learn about these options and simple ways of getting information from town committees by email.
  • Centrally located town-owned and controlled billboard with updates on the meetings of the day and important issues with updates. The suggested location is the town hall and the Library entrance point on Sullivan Ave.
  • The current website and app allows access to the town council and other elected officials. We need to have similar access mechanisms for key town staff, chairs and vice chairs of the various boards and commissions.
  • We need opportunities to involve unaffiliated voters. Pathways and mechanisms of engaging unaffiliated voters to become part of SW boards and commissions is needed. The chairs of the respective Democratic and Republican town committees felt that they would interview individual/s who are interested to serve in commissions and make the recommendations to the town council. The final decisions for these positions would be made by SW Town Council.
  • Instructional video to be made by South Windsor town for the citizens to learn about how to become engaged members of the community and how to access various forms of communications already in existence.
  • Continue to look at opportunities to make the town website and app more user friendly and continue to monitor usage.

MANAGERS RETIREMENT AND EXECUTIVE SEARCH:

On September 4th, 2018, our Town Manager Matthew B. Galligan informed the Town Council about his plans to retire. I have mixed feelings about Matt Galligan’s decision. On one hand, I am very happy and excited for him as he would be able to spend more time with his family and enjoy his well-earned retirement. However, at the same time, the town will be at a loss without the commendable leadership of the Town Manager. Matt was hired on the 5th January 1996. Since 1996 Matt has served with many Mayors, including Bill Aman, Marianne Lassman Fisher, Ed Havens, Matthew Streeter, Cary Prague, John Pelkey, Tom Delnicki, Carolyn Merrick and myself.

The Council is working to hire the next Town Manager. We have hired an Exec Search Committee for a nationwide search. We anticipate interviewing potential candidates in January. Matt will be able to stay on until we identify the right candidate. The process will include insights from the leadership of various committees and commissions, as well as town department heads. The Town Council continues to provide updates at each Town Council meeting.

SCHOOL ENROLLMENT:

The desirability of our town continues to attract families to move to South Windsor. This has led to an unanticipated growth in our school system. This academic year is no exception. While most towns in the state are seeing flat rates or decreases in enrollments, we are seeing an unprecedented increase. The Board of Education is working hard to manage the enrollment increase and continues to provide the well-recognized and respected quality of education that our town is famous for.

BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL CARE IN SOUTH WINDSOR:

South Windsor has seen a significant increase in our community’s expansion with more younger families moving in. The Park and Rec Program for after school care, “The 4th R”, has had an increasing waiting list. This supply and demand challenge led to parents having to wait for 8 to 12 hours to sign their kids into the program.

The South Windsor Town Council, after much deliberation, created the “Before and After School Care Committee” to develop a short, intermediate and long-term plan to help our communities’ young parents.

However, there is more work to be done on this issue. Many groups have shown interest in providing child care in South Windsor. YWCA has successfully been able to achieve this by taking over “Mother Goose”. Some for-profit entities are still looking at Ever Green walk as a possible child care location. Considering the large increase in our school systems’ enrollment, it is my view that more long term and comprehensive strategies are warranted.

DRAINAGE AT RIDGE ROAD:

For some time, Ridge Road has had challenges with drainage, causing flooding in the area. After many years of saving funds, the Town Council has been able to appropriate funding to address the drainage issues on Ridge Road. Some of our neighbors waited for over 8 + years to get this work done.

ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION:

Our Town is one of the first few in our State to pass an Ordinance Prohibiting Natural Gas Waste and Oil Waste from Natural Gas Extraction Activities within the towns. This protects our community and citizens from the risks associated with fracking waste and carcinogen exposure. The State has been working on a comprehensive strategy but has still not completed it.

QUALITY OF LIFE OF OUR CITIZENS: NOISE

We established a protection for our citizens from residential construction noise. As our community is growing, we are in the process of seeing more construction of homes, and at times the proximity and timing of the construction and noise has an impact to the quality of life of their neighbors. We have placed in time restrictions to help protect the quality of life of the neighbors around these residential construction sites.

TAX STABILIZATION FUND:

For the first time in the last 3 decades, prior to my second term as Mayor, the Town of South Windsor received a negative outlook from Moody’s Investors Service. Since becoming Mayor in November, I pledged to address this issue with the help of the Town Council majority, town manager, and finance department. I want to thank our manager and finance department who diligently addressed this issue. I believe that this negative outlook was partly because of our State’s budgetary and financial challenges.

One of the first few responses we created was a strategy to reduce the impact of the volatility of State budget on our town by creating a Tax Stabilization Fund. This fund has set aside resources to protect the town from the state’s financial volatility. These efforts have addressed the concerns of rating agencies. As a result of these efforts, Moody’s Investors Service has confirmed the Aa2 rating on the Town of South Windsor and removed their negative outlook. S & P also viewed this move positively and affirmed South Windsor at a AA+/ rating.

CRUMBLING FOUNDATIONS:

Connecticut Foundation Solutions Indemnity Company, Inc. (“CFSIC”) has been chartered and licensed as a captive insurer to assist the State of Connecticut with the fair and equitable adjustment of homeowner claims resulting from the pyrrhotite-affected home foundations natural disaster. The website is SITE LINK
Application process starts on January 10th, 2019

APPLICATION PROCESS
https://crumblingfoundations.org/for-homeowners/
There is still lot of work to be done regarding this issue.
I have been in touch with Governor Elect Ned Lamont and Lt. Governor elect Susan Bysiewicz regarding this natural disaster.

SUSTAINABLE SOUTH WINDSOR:

For the past many years, some of us have been working to make sure that we as a community remain a sustainable community. Many community groups have been working towards this goal in their individual and collective capacities. The South Windsor Town Council created a Permanent Sustainability Advisory Committee. During my term as mayor South Windsor has applied for and received a Bronze Level Sustainable CT Certification. If we continue on this path, we should be able to achieve Silver Certification as well. I want to thank our Town Planner, Michelle Lipe and Deputy Mayor Andrew Paterna for their leadership.

If we as a community work towards more environmental sustainability, increase the health and wellbeing of our children and community, and promote the Arts and other positive collective community efforts, we will be able to achieve the Silver Status.

Recently, a resolution to create an Art Commission did not pass (despite all visual artists and existing groups support). This was unfortunately a partisan vote and we lost an opportunity to enhance and grow the artistic community in our town.

Many of us, including students at South Windsor High School and the community activist group Zero Waste South Windsor, are working on efforts to reduce plastic waste and single use plastic bags. These groups are hoping to have an ordinance for reducing single use plastic bags.
Many of us are also in support of very basic and scientific evidence-based efforts to increase life spans of our children and adults in our town. We are hoping that we can unite as a community around these efforts.

PROTECTION OF VETERANS:

As per the recommendations of the town’s Patriotic Commission, the Town Council passed an ordinance requiring any solicitation of funds on behalf of veterans to be approved by the Patriotic Commission. This decision was made as a result of concerns from the Commission regarding groups improperly handling funds meant for Veteran support.

NAMING OF TOWN SPACES:

The Town Council unanimously supported the naming of the Town Hall Annex to be named after our former Mayor, Ed Havens Sr.
The Town Council also approved naming the Sledding Hill after Porter Collins. The hill is now officially named “Porter’s Hill”. The sign on the space is supposed to be placed by the Park and Recreation Department.

The Town Council supported and celebrated the naming of part of State Road Sullivan Avenue as Cary Prague Memorial Highway.

CREATING BETTER COLLABORATION EFFORTS:

In the spirit of bipartisanship, the majority on the Town Council has reformed various town committees and commissions to sit an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. We are hopeful that future councils, regardless of their political majority, will continue this tradition.

PUBLIC HOUSING MODERNIZATION:

The Town Council unanimously approved applying for the Community Development Block Grant for Public Housing Modernization at Wapping Mews. I am happy to report that we were approved for $800,000 for 2018.

SOUTH WINDSOR MAKES THE TOP 100 AMERICAS SAFEST CITIES:

A national survey by www.Safewise.com recognized South Windsor as one of the top 100 safest city in America. We are proud to have made the list. Please join me in thanking our Police Department and citizens who have remained vigilant and responsible. Please continue to be helpful by locking cars, reporting suspicious incidents and being observant. It takes a team to continue to be a safe community.

FARMLAND PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION:

Our town joined in partnership with the State of CT for the joint acquisition of development rights for a local farm – the Shepard Family Farm-Five. This includes approximately 50 acres, generally situated on the easterly side of Main St., and the southerly side of Pleasant Valley Rd. South Windsor’s participation was possible by an Open Space Referendum authorized by South Windsor voters in 2012. The preservation of the Shepard Farm represents the positive working relationship established with the State of Connecticut Department of Agriculture and has been a great example of what can be accomplished when landowners, the Town and the State work together to increase the amount of permanently preserved farmland in South Windsor.

REFERENDUM FOR MANAGING OUR CAPITAL PROJECTS NEEDS:

Thanks to the voters of South Windsor, our town is continuing to maintain our excellent town infrastructure and various department needs. Maintenance is needed for various buildings and town properties; the Capital Projects Committee has continued to work hard to set these priorities. A few years ago, during my first term as Mayor, we had inherited the lowest Capital Projects funds in the State and the history of the town, as previously the fund had not been prioritized correctly. As a result of this, during my first term as Mayor the Town Council created an ordinance to protect the fund. Since that time, we have been increasing our maintenance of our town’s needs. This current referendum will set us further in the right direction for many years to come.

PROTECTING OPEN SPACE:

Thank you for your approval of the Open Space funds. This will help our town protect more open space and continue to invest in the beauty, sustainability and environmental protection of our town.

RETIREMENT OF OFFICER TIM HANKARD:

Officer Tim Hankard of SWPD retired recently after serving our town for 21 years. We are blessed to have a committed Police Department and officers who have dedicated their careers to protect our community. Thank you Officer Hankard.

TAX BREAKS FOR OUR SENIORS:

Our Deputy Mayor Andrew Paterna worked on identifying ways to help reduce taxes for our seniors above and beyond what has already occurred. I am glad that most of us supported these efforts. The Town of South Windsor established an additional program for municipal tax relief for homeowners age 65 or over, or the ones who are permanently or totally disabled. This municipal tax relief applies only to real property owned and occupied as a principal residence by residents of the town who meet the following qualifications:

  1. They are 65 years of age and over, or their spouses, living with them, are 65 years of age or over, or 62 years of age or over, and, the surviving spouse of the taxpayer qualified under this section at the time of their death, or with respect to real property on which such residents or their spouses are liable for taxes under C.G.S. § 12-170v;
  2. Applicant must live in their primary residence in South Windsor for at least seven months of each year.
  3. If an applicant is under age 65 (as of Dec 31 of the calendar year prior to application), they can be eligible if they receive permanent total disability benefits under Social Security.
  4. Residents, or their spouse, described in this ordinance, shall have been taxpayers of the town for FIVE years immediately preceding their receipt of tax benefits under this section.
  5. The income eligibility requirements are: $50,000 for unmarried individuals and $65,000 for married individuals.

If you qualify, you can get help from the Human Services to help process paperwork.

CAR BURGLARIES/ THEFTS:

There continue to be almost constant car burglaries across Hartford county. There are probably dozens of groups of youths who go out nightly into various towns to look through unlocked cars and take items of value. They frequently take any vehicle found with the keys in it and “joyride” with it until it runs out of gas. The youths, typically under 17, are juveniles and are aware that they face minimal consequences from the courts. Dear residents, our PD continue to urge our citizens to lock their cars every single time they exit and to take the keys with them.

SOUTH WINDSOR RECYCLING:

We continue to be an enlightened and responsible community. South Windsor was able to divert over 18 tons of textile in last year. We have also recycled 58 tons of electronics and 37 tons of scrap metal. Electronic recycling events are held in the Town Hall (Dates on our website). Acceptable items include telephones, computers, laptops, printers, stereos, television, microwaves, DVD players etc. The South Windsor rate of recycling is above the rest of the State.

For hazardous waste takes place at the Manchester landfill located at 231 Olcott Street. Acceptable items include tanks, aerosols, fertilizers and cleaning products among other items. Paints can also be taken to Sherwin-Williams in Manchester could be recycled.

SIDEWALK REPAIR AND NEW SIDEWALKS:

The town hired Martin Laviero contractors to replace damage sidewalk slabs in many places in the Town. This work started in September through fall and will continue into the next year. The trip hazards on sidewalks are being marked with a bright pink paint to alert the pedestrians of these hazards.

New sidewalks have been created in various parts of the town to make our town more connected for pedestrians. Avery street now connects to the mall. The Evergreen walk area is getting connected with the town center. (Some parts are still missing). Town hall will be connected to the town center as well (Work in progress).

WAPPING RE-PURPOSING:

I am excited to report that architectural plans had been completed and plans for remodeling the cafeteria to a Banquet Facility are underway. More updates to follow.

TAX ABATEMENT FOR FIRE DEPARTMENT VOLUNTEERS:

The council unanimously approved the ordinance titled, “Establishment of a South Windsor Volunteer Fire Tax Abatement Ordinance”.

WILD ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS IN SOUTH WINDSOR:

There have been some encounters with Coyotes, Bears and Bob Cats.

Please make sure use protect your small pets and they should not be left outside unattended. Dogs should always be leashed and under much closed supervision while outside. Home owners should eliminate any food and sources like pet food left outside. If wild animals exhibit bold and aggressive behavior towards people or if the animal appears otherwise sick or injured, please contact the South Windsor Police Department at 860-644-2551.

The State of CT, Department of Energy and Environment Protection (DEEP) oversees the policies and management of this situation. Please see the links below for better understanding and your role regarding these encounters.

Coyotes: Living with Coyotes
Bears: Black Bears in Connecticut
Bobcats: Bobcats in Connecticut

PERSONAL UPDATES:

HEALTH CARE HEROES AWARD:

On December 6th, I was honored receive one of the HealthCare Heroes Awards in Hartford. This was presented by the Hartford Business Journal. 2018 Health Care Heroes Awards recognizes those who have made an impact on health care in community through their concern for patients, research and inventions, management skills, innovative programs for employees and service to the poor and uninsured. The HBJ considered me worthy to receive the Community Service- Advocacy/Policy HealthCare Hero award. Thank you for all the staff, town committee and community members who remain focused to improve the health and well-being of our town.

SERVING ON GOVERNOR-ELECTS TRANSITION STEERING COMMITTEE:

Governor Elect Ned Lamont has been kind enough to ask me to be part of his Transition Steering Committee. There has been considerable excitement and positive energy in the various committee works and conversations regarding the transition. Over two hundred people volunteered their time expertise in various groups. The members of the sub-committees included bipartisan representation, experts in the field, advocates and all stakeholders. The work of the committee will be made public soon. We discussed fifteen areas of planning and policy opportunities. These areas have included, Shared- Services, Agriculture, Housing, Public Safety, Digital Strategy, Environment, Jobs- Economy, Women, Criminal Justice, Arts/Culture/Tourism, Human Services, Health Care, Education, Energy and Transportation.

OFFICE HOURS TO CONTINUE:

As most of you already know, I hold regular office hours. Listening to your issues and concerns is important to me. You can make an appointment to talk with me by calling 860-644-2511 extension 206. Debbie Reid will assist you.

I will continue to keep you updated on our Town Council meetings and the progress we are making on behalf of our residents.

Again, Happy New Year.

Dr. Saud Anwar
Mayor, South Windsor