To the Editor:
When my partner and I stumbled upon Bridgewater barely five years ago ending a four-year house-hunting odyssey, we believed we’d finally found our Brigadoon, the mythical town that contrasted empty city life with country warmth and simplicity.
The comparison wasn’t much of a stretch. The cordiality of the people, the Currier & Ives countryside, the rich agricultural heritage and unpretentious lifestyle, were beyond anything we’d hoped to find as we fled the New York suburbs. We bought, moved in, and patted ourselves on the back daily for our good judgment.
But clouds were already gathering. When you’ve found perfection, you don’t want it to change. And the message from the then-newly-elected First Selectman Curtis Read threatened change of some kind. What Curtis in his gentlemanly way was calling re-invigoration simply made us nervous. Maybe the “good old days” were doomed just when we’d found them.
And so we voted “no” on the proposal to give up our status as the “Last Dry Town in Connecticut.” Next, Peter May received an arduous, many-paged letter pleading with him to scale back his plans for a bistro. And we cast similarly skeptical eyes on any other proposals that we feared would change the character of the town.
How wrong we were. And how glad I am to say that today. Over the last four years Curtis’ unique combination of corporate savvy and rural roots has given him the vision and restraint to get this town moving into the future while preserving all that is good about the past. His leadership is apparent everywhere, from our new Bistro aglow with warmth and hospitality—especially in the dark hours when Bridgewater used to look closed (or, worse, abandoned)—to our spruced-up Library, new pedestrian-way for a safe, tree-lined stroll from Village Hall to the Fairgrounds (will anyone really miss being moving targets for motorists on 133?), the overdue remediation of soil-contaminating conditions at our beloved old Grange . . . the full list is a very long one.
He has done this with an alchemist’s ability to also simultaneously lower, or at least hold the line on, property taxes. Credit his financial acumen, and his Yankee tight-fistedness with our tax dollars. And while there has been no shortage of hot-button issues during his term, Curtis has routinely presided over town meetings with calm good manners, impartiality, and an open mind—often in the face of a dependable stream of disgruntled challenges seemingly raised for their own sake. And by the way, “open door” is no mere figure of speech with this First Selectman. Go to Town Hall during business hours and if you can’t just stroll right into Curtis’s office and be greeted with a smile and a handshake, it’s because there’s a meeting going on that you wouldn’t want to interrupt anyway.
So it seems that from the beginning, Curtis of “Brigadoon” knew what he was doing. The course he continues to steer for our unique little town is guiding us skillfully past the shoals of ill-considered development on one side, and the reef of stagnation on the other. We are moving forward, in the words of composer Felix Mendelssohn, on a “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.” And his running mate, Alan Brown, helps keep the wind in our sails.
I vote to give “Captain Read” another four-year turn at the wheel.
October 31, 2017