Mayor Blake says city is in ‘ship shape’
Mayor Ben Blake saluted the success of the city and its pirate history during his annual State of the City address Thursday, Aug. 1, at the Milford Yacht Club.
In a speech accented with the words “aye” and “matey” and plenty of boating references, the mayor said, “The state of our fine city is ship shape, pieces of eight.”
“As legend has it, Capt. William Kidd sailed into Milford from New York in 1699, he walked into town in a bold and uncivilized manner, grabbed a young Milford woman named Patience Tuttle by the waist and he kissed her,” the mayor began.
He told the crowd of business leaders, local politicians and others at the Milford Chamber of Commerce luncheon that the story goes that Capt. Kidd buried treasure in town before sailing to Boston to face piracy charges.
Blake said that treasure has been found: Not in gold, but in the City of Milford itself, and he listed a number of news articles published recently that describe Milford as a great place to live.
Blake also talked about school initiatives, such as the one-to-one Chromebooks for students across the district, a civic and global engagement pathway in the high school curriculum, sports clinics for middle school students, and the introduction of world languages at the elementary school level.
He touted new health and recreational amenities, like new playgrounds, beach-side bathrooms, more miles of sidewalks, rehabbed tennis and basketball courts, and revamped ball fields, plus the reconstructed 1,100-foot boardwalk at the Beaver Brook trail system.
The Milford Public Library will be expanding its programming space in the Children’s Department and constructing new conference rooms, the mayor said, adding that the city’s solid financial footing is to credit for all these improvements.
“Milford maintains a AAA bond rating - the highest credit score a city can receive,” Blake said.
“Milford is in the middle of an enormous economic expansion as a tidal wave of new businesses sail into town,” he added. “Just this past year, 465 new businesses have made Milford their home port.”
Milford’s 2018 Grand List is $6.576 billion, and the mayor said that is the largest in New Haven County and one of the largest in the state.
And of course, he pointed out that the city has seen four consecutive years of modest tax reductions.
“What’s quite clear is that we are running a tight ship that’s perfectly positioned to meet any challenge or opportunity which may arise on the high seas,” Blake said.
The mayor also took time during the event to bestow this year’s Distinguished Milford Citizen Award upon Gina Bonfietti, who is responsible for placing a piano on the downtown green for all to play.
Bonfietti spent about a month taking apart an old piano and putting it back together to make it waterproof, and then placed it on the green. Community members have been playing it most days ever since, and Bonfietti invited those who haven’t played it yet to stop down and do so.
“All I wanted was for somebody to play it,” Bonfietti said.
Bonfietti, a piano technician, also played a big role in Milford’s Make Music Day this year, the mayor said.
Blake’s challenger for the mayoral seat come November, Republican Dan German, was in the audience and praised the mayor’s speech.
“It was broad-based and covered positive things,” German said. German said he takes issue with some financial decisions and projects the city has undertaken, but said he didn’t want to rain on a very upbeat event.
“We’re all in it for the same thing — for the best city we can build,” German said.