On Thursday about 50 people turned out for the campaigns for re election of Greenwich Republicans First Selectman Fred Camillo and Selectwoman Lauren Rabin.
It was a beautiful sunny evening and as crowd gathered at the corner of Fawcett Place and Greenwich Avenue, tables began to fill outside restaurants with outdoor dining.
RTC chair Dan Quigley introduced Mr. Camillo.
“Back a year ago, this entire street was desolate. There were no cars here. Businesses were closed,” Quigley said. “There was a lot of fear in town, and a lot of people didn’t know what things would be like in the future. But here we are a year later. Businesses are thriving and there is a brand new feeling on Greenwich Avenue that there is a better future ahead of us. A lot of, if not all of the thanks we can give for that is for our First Selectman and Selectwoman Fred Camillo and Lauren Rabin.”
Lauren Rabin described herself as “teammate to the best First Selectman.”
“I couldn’t have a better running mate, a better partner in town hall, a better friend, and more importantly, someone who cares so much about our community and making sure that everyone thrives,” she said. “And I care as well.”
“Three months into our term we got hit by the pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in 100 years,” Camillo said. “Immediately we had to stop and focus on getting us through the pandemic. Not putting aside anything else we were doing, but we had to focus on how we would get through the pandemic, how we would have meetings. We started doing daily emergency operation meetings, daily press conferences with Greenwich Hospital.”
He said last April when he spearheaded the creation of outdoor dining for restaurants, “Some people thought we were nuts. I knew, this was the last piece of our pedestrian friendly Greenwich Avenue. Everyone came together, worked with us and made it happen.”
“And then when we heard a couple of merchants were upset that this was closed to traffic, we had public hearings, and we reopened it, but we wanted to keep that pedestrian feeling here,” he added.
Camillo said that so far in his and Rabin’s terms they also revived several dormant initiatives.
“Whether it was better utilization of our assets, looking at buildings like Eastern Greenwich Civic Center, which after 35 years is really close to getting done. The rink is next to getting done. And then of course the GEMS building on King Street,” he added. “We’re going to get that done too.”
Other accomplishments he added were the weekly e-blasts and Greenwich’s increased social media presence.
He mentioned the land acquisition from Aquarion of 72 acres of open space, the recycling programs that were expanded to include textiles and food scraps, and two electric charging stations at town hall.
Camillo said when municipal solid waste fees increased, much was recovered with the new tipping fee introduced during his tenure.
He said the Police and Fire Departments were being restructured and that Greenwich Police Dept was thriving.
“We used to have two people directing traffic for 7 hours a day who couldn’t leave those posts,” Camillo added. “We now have 7 here – 4 on bikes, and 3 walking. And we also have an undercover unit. We have now apprehended more criminals in the last year than the last 30 years.”
“And of course we wanted a pedestrian friendly Greenwich Avenue connected to a new waterfront district,” Camillo continued. “That, we said was about a 10 year plan. We’ve gotten a big jump on that.”
“You can see when the bump outs are done you’re going to love them. And with the RFP’s we’re putting out for the park (Roger Sherman Baldwin Park) down there to reclaim the water views, you’re going to love that,” Camillo said. “We’re going to get a view that we haven’t had in 70 years down there.”
“We’re also working on parking issues,” Camillo said. “We voted to take 100 spaces here that were being used by employees who sometimes feed the meters, and we got 100 spaces in the municipal lots that will be available on the Avenue. Plus we put out an RFP for valet parking, which we had a pilot program over the holidays that worked really well.”
Camillo said there will be a more formal get together in about 3 weeks for his and Rabin’s campaigns.
“We ran two years ago as ‘Uniting Greenwich’ and respecting our historic past, things that made Greenwich Greenwich, but with a bright new vision,” Camillo added. “We are re-imagining Greenwich, now we’re moving Greenwich forward. Greenwich on the go!”