MARLBOROUGH – With less than two weeks until he leaves office, Arthur Vigeant has begun wrapping up his tenure as mayor – and a total of 30 years in city politics – with his farewell address on Dec. 14 in the City Council chambers.
Surrounded by his family, along with municipal employees and councilors, Vigeant began with thanks to his wife, Sue, “for putting up with me through all the campaigns,” and for the times when he could come home “grumpy” from meetings … “often.”
He also credited his parents and siblings because “they always have my back, no matter what.”
Vigeant then recalled how former Mayor Michael Hogan asked him to run for City Council. After he won the seat, he quickly discovered some of the everyday challenges, such as full mailboxes and prepping for meetings.
“I tried to learn as much as possible,” he said.
Vigeant regarded himself as an “outspoken” member of the council; he recalled when another councilor challenged him to go to the back of City Hall in order to “kick his [a**].”
“His words, not mine,” said Vigeant.
His accomplishments were noted as well; Vigeant helped establish the city’s scholarship fund, which has distributed $100,000 to students.
In 2012, Vigeant decided to run for mayor.
“The legislative job is completely different from the executive,” he said. “The buck stops with you.”
Vigeant won that election, and went on to serve six terms before deciding to step down earlier this year.
When he was first elected, he was given this advice from other mayors – get the best staff possible. He then thanked Patricia Bernard, who’s been his assistant “since the beginning.”
“There’s no way I would have had any success without her,” he said.
Vigeant listed some of the accomplishments since he took office – renovations to Memorial Beach; the building of the senior center and Ward Park; developing fields and playgrounds throughout the city; the rebuilding of the Goodnow Brothers Elementary School; and the building of the Marlborough Public Library.
It was during the library project when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Vigeant said he was determined to keep the city’s government open. Thanks to the city’s department heads, offices remained open with masks and social distancing, test kits and vaccines were delivered and meals were delivered to Marlborough Public Schools students via school buses.
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He also praised the police and fire departments for innovations, including a police academy for middle school students and a K9 program.
Vigeant emphasized a “strong economic development strategy” for maintaining a strong revenue flow and a low tax rate.
“We have $25 million in the stabilization fund, $7 million in free cash. We have a AAA bond rating,” he said.
Here are some of the notable achievements that took place while Vigeant served as mayor:
- Department of Public Works – four sewer pumps reconstructed; more than 55 miles of roadway reconstructed and/or resurfaced
- Police Department – earned state accreditation; created a Do Not Knock registry for residents; created a Youth Police Academy for middle schoolers
- Fire Department – established two assistant fire chief positions; established four new battalion chief positions; updated equipment; renovated stations 1 and 3
- Conservation and Green initiatives – completion of the Panther Trail; growth of city’s electric vehicle fleet; solar panels added to four school rooftops
- Recreation Department – construction of turf fields at the middle and high schools (with DPW); construction of the splash pad and Dek hockey rink at Ghiloni Park (with DPW); improvements at Memorial Beach (with DPW); kayak dock at Hixson Boat Launch
Overall, Vigeant said he “wanted to bring up the bar a little bit … in leaving the city a little bit better.” He challenged incoming Mayor J. Christian Dumais to do the same.
“It’s the greatest job in the world,” he said. “Thank you for entrusting me with this job.”