Exiting economic development director issues farewell

[Editor’s Note: The following is a letter to the residents of New Milford.]

My position as economic development director for the Town of New Milford has, unfortunately, been eliminated; a casualty of our state’s fiscal crisis. Anticipated funding cuts from Hartford have led to reorganization in our town’s budget.

I want to thank all who have supported and collaborated with this office over the last year and nine months, especially former Mayor David Gronbach for the honor and privilege of allowing me to serve the citizens of New Milford.

I have had the good fortune to collaborate with excellent people at the state, regional and local level without whom, this job would not be possible.

Special thanks locally to Frank Wargo, Robyn Seidman, Mary Vannucci, Linda Hollins, Kathy Castagnetta, Valerie Douglass, Greg Bollaro, Dan Stanton, Tom O’Brien, Denise Delmastro, Meredith Cleary, Valerie Lorimar, Tony Vengrove, Sharon Kaufman, Josh Coolbeth, Katy Francis, Buck Whiteway, Russ Posthauer, Sharon Ward, Michael Gold, Matt Epstein, Diane Dubreuil and Hal Kurfehs.

Through these partnerships, and the unparalleled passion and commitment of our community, much has been accomplished.

We have celebrated the grand openings of more than 30 new businesses, with another 10 in the pipeline; we broke ground on a River Walk and launched boat rentals on the Housatonic; demolished a half century contaminated factory, a decade-long project pushed forward by securing a $600 million project to repurpose the contaminated land; re-launched a downtown art gallery and supported art meets commerce events like Art Walk; seen the launch of an entrepreneurial co-working space; converted a closed elementary school into an operating community center; rebranded and promoted the town; obtained a development deal for an assisted living facility; secured a $40 million solar project and other green energy opportunities; served as a catalyst to foster new ideas, like breweries, commercial kitchen co-op, public marketplace, vocational training program, greenhouse, agricultural technology and a downtown and riverfront revitalization movement.

It is you who have done these things New Milford. I have had the vantage point of being on the sidelines cheering and encouraging you on, and have enjoyed the view.

This is an exciting time for New Milford. It is a great place that is just getting started. So I encourage each of you to get involved if you are not already. Play an active role in shaping your town to be what you know it can be. Then spread the good news (and be sure to share our town’s promo video: https://player.vimeo.com/video/241009537)

People should move here; start a business, raise a family. I should know; I did just that, 15 years ago. And now, though bittersweet, I can say with pride, I served my town that has given so much to me and my family.

That’s my New Milford.

Kevin Bielmeier

New Milford