First Selectman's Blog

This is a very busy time of year in town hall. Budget Season! The Budgets need to be prepared, a proposed spending plan presented to the Board of Finance for comment and adjustment. Finally, the Board of Finance adopts the adjusted budgets to a Town Meeting for approval by the voters present. The Board of Selectmen presented their proposed budget at the regular meeting of the BOF on March 11, 2019. It shows decreased expenditures for the 2019-20 fiscal year. On Monday, March 25, 2019, the Board of Education will present their proposed spending plan to the BOF at a special meeting.

The initial meeting of the Community Economic Development Committee is to be held this week in town hall. The concentration of this committee in the short run is to accomplish several things:

1. To establish a Farmer’s Market in town, if possible. This is complicated to do.

2. To plan and implement a gardening plan to augment the charm and beauty of our village center.

3. To accentuate the Appalachian Trail and the Mohawk Trail.

4. To get two or three new commercial operations into the town

Over time, this group will probably morph into more of a Community Development team. What’s the difference? While economic development is key to our town, it doesn’t answer all the important issues a small town like ours faces. For one, let’s focus on one key ingredient to community health that is going to be vital in the future.

During the last couple of months, we have attended many meetings at which experts in this field have discussed what is going to be the most crucial element in seeing that the town can attract young people, keep up with the rest of world and enable the utilization of emerging technologies like remote medicine, the internet of things, smart agriculture, etc., etc. In other words, the new world.

The critical infrastructure necessary to access this upcoming revolution in the way we do things is a fiber optic network that can connect all the homes and businesses in our small village in an economical way. I know what you’re thinking---why do we have to do this when we’ve gotten along well without it for all these years. The answer in short is that the whole world is going in this direction whether we like it or not. Do we become one of the leaders in doing so or do we get into it at the tail end when everyone else has it?

And don’t expect the state to do it. And don’t expect the federal government to do it. Not now and not in the foreseeable future. If it is to accomplished, it will have to be done locally. Our Council of Governments has put a lot of time, money and energy at looking at this problem and we realize that do this jointly as a whole group or as a consortium of several towns will probably lead to a better outcome that trying to go it alone.

In the future (by that I mean tomorrow), I personally believe that this will be as important as electricity, telephone or water to a community. In other words, it will a necessity. It will be just another community utility. So we will have to do it in a way that allows everyone to have it, not just a few. Realistically, the future is now; this is happening so rapidly that we can’t wait for it to come to us, we have to come to it.

Don’t think that this will happen tomorrow. It won’t. It will require a lot of study, work and preparation to put us at the point where we can even begin to consider our options of how to accomplish this. But it is something that we have to start investigating because it is the future. This village has not survived for almost three hundred years by just looking forward to the day after tomorrow. We survived the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and two World Wars by imaging what the future might hold. I truly believe we are at the tipping point of a whole new world and we must prepare ourselves to join it.