By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – It has been just about a year since Kevin Mizikar became Shrewsbury’s Town Manager, replacing Dan Morgado. Recently Mizikar reflected on what has been a busy year for the town, as he addressed topics such as the schools, infrastructure improvements, and economic development.
“It’s been great and I’m really impressed with the level of desirability of the community and how much people want to live and open businesses here,” he said.
Certainly the largest financial challenge facing Shrewsbury is funding the public school system.
“It’s based upon the difference between what it is and what [Superintendent] Dr. [Joseph] Sawyer and his talented team want to do for the children to continue to meet the expectations of the residents, juxtaposed against the financial resources that we have,” Mizikar said. “The limitations of increasing revenues only by 2.5 percent make it hard to keep up, even with a growing economy.”
Regarding infrastructure, the biggest challenge for Shrewsbury is the sewer system along Route 20.
“We have to do it right. That’s where our future growth is. If we want to continue to have growth, beyond the incremental growth, provided by Proposition 2-1/2, through commercial development, then that’s a critical corridor,” he said.
Related to the Route 20 corridor, he shared, “I think we are really close to signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Market Basket and with that development …we look to partner with them on roadway improvements.”
This relationship will be useful to help make those needed improvements happen, reducing the impact to municipal resources, he added. Additionally, having sufficient sewer capacity will jump start that development and will allow the market to play out in determining the best value for its usage.
Mizikar’s expertise in economic development is an asset that Shrewsbury is fortunate to be able to utilize. His experience as an economic development director for Mount Holly, N.J. during a down time in the economy has given him a certain perspective on Shrewsbury’s favorable economic conditions.
When asked if there were things in the legacies of popular past Town Managers, Richard Carney and Dan Morgado, that he hoped to emulate, Mizikar replied, “Absolutely, as I’ve been thinking about the last year I do see the strength in the town manager’s position. The position carries itself. It’s always good to be the town manager in a town that has the town hall named after a former town manager.
“I definitely benefit from their legacies. They both left the town better off than they found it. That’s my number one goal. Its financial stability, desirability and it’s the culture of the community and town employees. I just want to carry those out.”
Development and subsequent traffic on Turnpike Road [Route 9] is also an issue he continues to work on with local officials.
“I think that, as development grows in the area, and the maintenance of the roadway that was recently done over the last couple of years, both will need to continue,” Mizikar said. “We will have to keep monitoring the intersections, the traffic signals and the traffic timing.”
He credits Grossman Development Group for putting a strategically placed traffic light along Route 9 at a primary entrance to the Lakeway Commons to help mitigate that development’s impact on traffic flow. So far, traffic in and out seems to be manageable, he added.
Thus far, Mizikar said both officials and residents have made his first year enjoyable.
“I really feel that with this board [of selectmen] I can just call for guidance no matter how big or small the issue. They are always willing to provide advice and perspective.”
He is grateful, he said, for the relationship he has forged with them. He also praised his staff as being consummate professionals.
The community at large has also impressed him with their level of time and interest and the things that they are passionate about in the town.