Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan bids farewell

At the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Nov. 16, outgoing First Selectman Bill Brennan’s last regular meeting, Brennan made the following farewell remarks.

“At the time I was first nominated for the position of first selectman, I committed to serve for as long as the citizens of Wilton were sufficiently satisfied. Never did I ever contemplate that I was embarking on a 10-year journey of public service.

“Upon reflection, it has been an honor to represent and serve the community that I love, where Kathleen and I have raised our family and have had children and grandchildren attend our fine schools. Serving as your first selectman has enriched my life and presented an opportunity for me to make numerous friends and to work with so many outstanding employees and dedicated volunteers, plus many, many talented Wilton citizens. To all of you, I wish to express my personal gratitude for all your help and many contributions to our wonderful community. In brief, it has been an awesome experience for me.

“It is impossible for me to name all the individuals to whom I owe so much, but I would be remiss, if first, I did not thank my lovely wife, Kathleen, who over the years has had to put up with many lonely evenings and interrupted weekends. Never has she complained and she has always been supportive when my name was occasionally taken in vain! In brief, government is not easy and therefore, to those citizens and friends who have stood with me at difficult moments, I shall always be grateful.

“Serving on the Board of Finance for five years, three years as chairman, was also a very rewarding experience and significantly prepared me for the leadership challenges of the first selectman position. My successor, Lynne Vanderslice’s many years of service on the Board of Finance has well equipped her for when she takes over this office on Dec. 1.

“At this point, I do not need to recount what has been accomplished during the decade of my administration. Recently, the press has written some very comprehensive and complimentary articles, so I will try not to be repetitive except for a few comments on several projects that I am very proud to have played a small role in their accomplishment.

“In no order of priority, I am very pleased that we were able to increase affordable senior housing in the community and build Wilton Commons. Twenty-three more units will soon be added to this development, with an additional 30-room apartment house now under construction in the area that will also add nine more affordable units to Wilton’s housing inventory.

“The expansion of natural gas to all our school facilities and community center involved three years of work, but was successfully accomplished. Over the long term, this project will provide significant fuel savings to the town and to the many businesses and residents that converted to clean and less expensive natural gas.

“The improvement of the streetscape and pedestrian safety in Wilton Center was an early goal. Adding lampposts, flower baskets, better signage, park benches, new sidewalks and soon-to-be installed brick pedestrian crosswalks was done to make Wilton an attractive shopping, dining and entertainment destination. In brief, our objectives have been to stimulate economic development to attract new businesses and to retain existing local businesses.

“During my term of office, we were saddled with the task of managing the town through the Great Recession. I am very proud of all our town employees, who in the depth of the recession, agreed to give up a pay raise to help the community get through this difficult period. To the best of my knowledge, no other Connecticut municipality demonstrated that level of employee financial cooperation.

“As our fine schools are one of the town’s major assets, many capital improvement projects were successfully completed over the last 10 years. Roofs were replaced, new gas boilers installed at Middlebrook and Cider Mill Schools, the high school had a new HVAC system installed, six new science rooms were done over and the LIttle Theater renovated and parking lots repaved. The Miller-Driscoll renovation project, when finished, will deliver many long-needed improvements to this 50-year-old facility that is the gateway to the Wilton school system for our youngest students. While the project has unfortunately been controversial, on one point all agree — that this important school facility requires renovations. Fortunately, the construction contract bids have come in under budget, which provides an opportunity for sizable savings, provided we keep the construction plans on schedule to avoid increased project costs.

“In bidding farewell, I urge the community to set aside differences and work together more cooperatively in the future, and I strongly encourage more of our younger citizens to get involved in the process of government. Active participation and voting at all elections is not only a precious right, but also every citizen’s responsibility. We have a great town and wonderful, generous community spirit. Let us not forget how lucky we all are to call Wilton our home.

“Thank you again for providing me the honor of serving as your first selectman.”