OLD SAYBROOK – At a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, Republican First Selectman Michael Pace announced his intention to run for a fifth term.
“I believe the vision (for the town) needs to be completed and the public’s interest will be served by this collective board,” Pace said.
Pace encouraged fellow Republican William Peace and Democrat Velma Thomas to run for re-election as well.
After the meeting, Pace explained that his vision includes finishing the economic plan for the town which includes the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, Main Street Revitalization, and improving the Boston Post Road corridor.
The Boston Post Road corridor goal is one recently being undertaken by the Land Use Department with assistance from Architect Tom MacDonald of East Wharf Architects in Madison.
Pace is encouraging developers to take vacant sites, which have already been developed, versus undeveloped parcels.
While the town has been involved in efforts to protect the 1,000-acre undeveloped “Preserve” property, Pace said the town is unable to purchase the property on its own.
Property owner River Sound Development, recently met with Pace to indicate a possibly downscaled plan for the property.
Their proposal to build a development with 220 homes and an 18-hole golf course was rejected by the Old Saybrook Wetlands Commission in March 2006.
In terms of education, Pace said he supports a number of youth initiatives including a state summer employment program and improving school infrastructure throughout town.
Securing funding from grants is another one of Pace’s priorities.
A recent example of this was the Board of Selectmen’s approval to support an initiative by Water Pollution Control Authority Coordinator Stephen Luckett to apply for a Small Cities Grant.
The grant would allow low-income homeowners to obtain interest-free loans to fix substandard septic tanks and cesspools and pay the money back to the town upon selling of the home.
Those eligible for the financing must have an income of $60,000 or below for a family of four and $40,000 for a family of two.
Pace said a recent report from Moody’s Investor Service indicated the town has a “strong management” by finalizing budgets which lead to minimal mill rate increases.
Taxpayers recently approved the 2007-08 budget, which increased the mill rate by 0.49 mills.
Pace easily won re-election in 2005, 2,193 to 998, when challenged by Democrat Dan Moran.
Peace confirmed in a recent telephone interview that he is running for re-election as well.
Aspiring to acquire more land for open space purposes, Peace said he wants to see streetscapes in town improved and for the town to continue to become more pedestrian friendly.
Specifically, Peace would like to see above ground wires in Saybrook Point be relocated underground similarly as the wires which used to be located in front of the firehouse.
Peace, a former DOT engineer, is advocating improvements to the town’s rail service such as providing trains on the hour, every hour, as well as creating additional parking for train passengers.
Old Saybrook was the only town to request the DOT keep the current schedule of town bridge inspections for every two years rather than agree to a four-year schedule, Peace said.
Less frequent inspection of bridges is a hazard, Peace said, pointing to the 1983 Mianus River Bridge collapse on Interstate 95 in Greenwich where three people died.