Column: A Great Past, A Better Future for Greenwich
By Dan Quigley
Special to the Greenwich Sentinel
I’m grateful to call Greenwich home. I was raised here, educated in the public school system, and have built my strongest friendships here. My wife and I were married at St. Mary’s Church on the Avenue, and now our five-year-old son calls Greenwich home, too.
As Warren Buffet once rightly said, “If you’re born in The United States, you’ve won the lottery in life,” and, by extension, growing up in Greenwich is like winning the Powerball. We all benefit from our great public and Independent schools, top-notch services, low property taxes, safe environment and an extremely diverse community of people. We have also been fortunate to have our Town’s affairs responsibly managed by our Board of Selectmen, volunteer RTM (on which I proudly serve) and its various committees who collaborate to ensure our Town is among the best run in the country.
Effective management of our Town’s affairs has always been something we could rely on, but I fear that we are facing a series of challenges that could cause lasting damage to our community. Some of these challenges are courtesy of Hartford, some are rooted at the local level and some are part of broader national economic and demographic issues. I love challenges. I loved them throughout my career in the financial services industry, and for the last three years I’ve had to apply my problem-solving skills to the many challenges of being an at home parent.
The issues facing our community will require thoughtful and creative solutions by our elected local officials, and it is with this in mind that I have decided run as a Republican candidate for Selectman.
Here are some of these challenges and how can we address them most effectively.
How do we maintain Greenwich’s status as an attractive place to raise a family and run a business while the State government pushes for higher taxes on wealthier CT towns and regressive taxes like tolls in its attempt to “raise revenues” after years of mismanagement?
We must pursue a steady Mill Rate because if we capitulate on this issue our Town’s much envied position as a low tax environment will be significantly weakened and its lure tarnished. We also need to be very focused on practicing fiscal discipline when it comes to our Town budgets and capital expenditures, especially considering the fiscal problems facing our State.
What role does our local government play in revitalizing Greenwich Avenue in the midst of new and unprecedented challenges facing brick and mortar businesses (especially from online retailers)? How can we partner up with Greenwich landlords and small business owners to solve this growing problem? When will our Town officials take a swing at solving the ever-growing parking problems that plague our commercial centers, particularly on Greenwich Avenue?
We should engage in a dialogue with local retail property owners with the goal of filling the empty retail spaces in our downtown. We need to be a friend to our business community and the retail property owners in our commercial centers to help them overcome an increasingly challenging operating environment. Additionally, commissioning a town-wide parking and transportation study with the goal of identifying strategic solutions to add much needed public parking spaces and make more public transportation available in our commercial retail centers would be a capital investment worth making.
The overcrowding of the Emergency Room at Greenwich Hospital has been a growing problem since the closing of the Port Chester Hospital. This issue is overburdening our hospital staff and increasing wait times for our residents, yet it has been left unaddressed.
I would pursue innovative solutions to solve this problem, including opening a dialogue with our neighbors in Port Chester to explore what can be done to assist them in offering medical services to their community and reducing the stream of non-emergency visits to our hospital ER.
Can our local government effectively balance our “needs” and “wants” in the Board of Ed’s upcoming $1Billion Capital Plan, especially in lieu of looming fiscal pressures on our finances from Hartford?
We ALL want our schools to be safe, secure and, for lack of a better term, state of the art. But, often times there is a disconnect between what we want as a community and what we need. There are a lot of good things about the BOE’s Capital Plan, but there are also some costly projects that are more on the “want” side than the “need” side. Tough decisions on these issues will have to be made, and it is imperative to our fiscal well being that we examine each item carefully.
These are just a few of the major issues that our community will be facing in the next few years. In order to navigate our way through these challenging times ahead, your elected officials will have to work together to find solutions that will help our community emerge stronger, smarter and better equipped to move forward into the future.
As a Republican member of the Board of Selectmen, I will work with the non-partisan RTM, my Democratic friends, fellow Republicans and our citizens to deliver the best possible results for our community.
I’ve seen up close as a young boy, a teenager, a college graduate and now as a husband and father what a great place Greenwich is. Our future is filled with opportunity, let’s work together to maximize it. I’ve always wanted to give back to my community, and now is a great time to do just that.