With 2020 finally in the rear-view mirror, Town Manager Sean Kimball is excited to start the new year.
However, moving forward means acknowledging how much Cheshire residents have gone through in the past 12 months.
“It’s been a really long year for us. We’ve had to deal with multiple emergencies at once and residents have dealt with a lot, financially and socially,” Kimball stated. “But the fundamental work of local government has, for better or for worse, continued in order to make sure residents are able to access what they need.”
When the pandemic first reached Connecticut, no one knew how long the crisis would last, but Kimball and his team decided early on that it was important to keep critical facilities open for use.
“(We’ve) tried to keep as much as we could open. In some ways, we’ve continued to get things done despite the pandemic,” he said. “We set out the goal to not only respond to the pandemic, but to also continue to plan for the future. We’ve remained focused on everything.”
While many local businesses have had to adapt their services due to the pandemic restrictions, Kimball is confident that Cheshire is in a position to bounce back from the hardships endured this past year.
“It’s no doubt that our businesses have struggled this year,” he said. “But we are resilient, and many businesses, especially our restaurants, have really done everything they can to stay open and accommodate the safety requirements.”
Town services, for the most part, have remained open in some capacity for residents since the start of the pandemic, which Kimball is proud of.
“The return of full in-person town services will have to depend on many things,” Kimball said. “We are excited that the vaccine is here and we are rolling it out in the next few weeks. Hopefully, once more people become vaccinated, we will have a better sense of how to open certain things again, but all of our Town services are available in some capacity (either online or by phone) now.”
The future, according to Kimball, looks very bright for Cheshire, and is he is excited for the upcoming projects that the Town has embarked on.
“There is an enormous amount of things going on in the background that people might not be aware of for 2021,” he teased. “We are constantly working and trying to bring high-quality town services to everyone.”
Some of those items Kimball has been working on in the background include the Bartlem Park South project, and the continuing work happening through the School Modernization Committee to upgrade Cheshire’s school buildings.
“The Bartlem Park project is very exciting and we are starting to see what some residents would like to see on that property,” Kimball added. “The SMC is working very hard to update Cheshire’s schools, and they have been meeting regularly to try to get the schools on track, and those meetings have been very productive.”
In Kimball’s most recent Town Manager’s report, he outlines what he envisions is next for the project.
“The next steps will include the consultants and staff incorporating the public’s feedback as best as possible into a draft preferred master plan concept to be presented to the Town Council in the coming months,” he wrote.
Most recently, the SMC met with the Superintendent of Windsor Public Schools, which experienced similar infrastructural changes that Cheshire is looking to do. The SMC has also formed several subcommittees this year in an effort to divide the immense amount of work needed to be done.
“Still, a lot needs to be fleshed out in terms of costs and things like that, but I am hopeful that the SMC will begin to narrow down choices in the coming months,” Kimball mentioned.
Additionally, Kimball highlights Cheshire’s Town Parks, which he feels have been a lifeline for many during the pandemic who are looking to get out of their homes but still stay socially distanced.
“The Cheshire Parks are a perfect example of Cheshire thriving during the pandemic,” he said. “The groundwork and approvals were in place before the pandemic, and we were able to utilize the timing perfectly so they could be used right when people started getting antsy about being stuck indoors. The parks are a great example of the continued effort the Town has put into providing for residents.”