Milford in great shape, except for geese, mayor tells merchants in state-of-city talk

A Canada goose ignores a dog decoy at the North Street Duck Pond in Milford. The problem of Canada geese was the subject of Mayor Benjamin Blake's State of the City speech

A Canada goose ignores a dog decoy at the North Street Duck Pond in Milford. The problem of Canada geese was the subject of Mayor Benjamin Blake’s State of the City speech

It’s not often that the first topic in a state of the city speech is bird droppings, but such was the case Thursday, Aug. 2, as Mayor Ben Blake told his audience that Canada geese are despoiling much of the city, particularly the downtown business district.

“One great big obstacle amidst our flock of successes is the Canada goose,” Blake, a Democrat, told a crowd of about 100 business leaders at the Milford Yacht Club for the Chamber of Commerce sponsored event. “My office receives more feedback about goose poop than just about any other matter of city business.”

He said that City Hall was just about at wit’s end over the influx of the non-migratory Canada goose.

“As unbelievable as it sounds, one of Milford's greatest problems is the challenge we face from Canada Geese which are wreaking havoc in our parks and public spaces,” Blake said. “I'm ready to call President Trump and ask that he refocus priorities from building a wall between the United States and Mexico, and instead look to our northern border and build a wall to keep out the Canada geese.”

Part of the problem stems from one of Milford’s successes, Blake said.

The city has just completed a long and expensive dredging project involving three downtown ponds in which 15,000 cubic yards of muck was hauled away; much of that sediment was in the form of goose excrement, officials say.

But, aside from that headache, the mayor said that the city was “flying high” and has seen advancements in its grand list in recent years, and approved tax cuts — albeit small ones — for three consecutive years.

”We've grown our tax base to over $6.7 billion, and we now have the largest grand list in New Haven County and one of the top ones in the state,” he said. ”Our taxpayers have now experienced back-to-back-to-back tax cuts, three consecutive decreases — no other town in the state can boast this experience.”

But Anthony Giannattasio, a Republican alderman from District 1, said that the tax cuts were largely the result of cost-savings that those on his side of the aisle put forth.

“We’re the ones the came up with those spending cuts,” said Giannattasio, who is also a candidate for the 14th District State Senate seat.

Blake also said the city is moving forward to create an under- and above-ground parking facility downtown where the Corner Convenience store used to be — 325 spaces in all. A small supermarket would also be on that site, too, he said, according to the plan being considered by City Hall.

The added parking would “help buoy the shops and restaurants in the center of town,” he said.