Forgue brings life experience to council presidency

Forgue brings life experience to council presidency

GLOCESTER – Newly appointed Town Council President Julian “Jay” Forgue says he’s “sat with English lords, sat with presidents. I’ve met very influential people. It’s a worldly experience that I have.”

On Jan. 4, the Glocester Town Council voted 4-1 to elect Forgue, 69, as president, with Republican Walter M. O. Steere against the appointment.

Steere was the top earner in the general election with 3,266 votes. Forgue, a Republican, earned second in the race, with 3,211 votes, and was the top-earning endorsed Republican. Newly elected council members William Worthy and Stephen Arnold are also endorsed by the Republican party, and Steere is not.

Forgue said he believes the council appointed him after his good work on his first term in office.

“I have led a pretty intriguing life if you ask me,” he said.

Born in Providence, Forgue has lived in Glocester since 1977, long after he began his life traveling across continents selling horses. He said he started out buying and selling saddle horses, then moved on to thoroughbreds with such success that he met the president of Venezuela in the 1980s and raced a horse in a million-dollar race in Hong Kong.

That all ended when he became sick in 1994, and switched to selling horse trailers. He retired and sold his business two years ago, and is now enjoying riding trail horses with his wife.

Forgue said he will use the many lessons he’s learned in his international business to keep Glocester thriving in its rural and historic characteristics.

“My experience comes from my travels in life. I’ve seen a lot, which means I’ve seen a lot of things that work,” Forgue said.

When Forgue arrived in Glocester, he quickly made a name for himself. He developed the first-ever planned unit development in town, which includes residential, commercial and farmland, and required a new zoning section to be created.

Forgue said the only “lemon” Glocester has going is the lack of sewer and water lines in Chepachet. He added that the town “missed the boat” on putting lines in Chepachet, and it will now cost the town a fortune.

On his time on the council, Forgue said he is proud to have helped reboot the Economic Development Commission, which is looking at the direction the town wants to head in. To him, that means keeping the historic character of Chepachet and leaning into the town’s eclectic sentiment, pushing toward artist-run galleries and boutique stores.

“My goal is to make lemonade out of a lemon,” Forgue said.

He said he is proud that Main Street has some of the “greatest historical buildings in the state,” including Brown and Hopkins, the longest continually running general store in the country.

“My reasoning for cultivating that is to build the attraction that people enjoy and reflect on to build nice homes in town. If we’re going to be a bedroom community, let’s have the best bedrooms around,” he said.

“It’s the only direction we can go in. We no longer want anymore strip malls in town. We’re trying to keep rural as much as we possibly can, that’s what we want to do,” Forgue said.

He highlighted a move to larger buffers on solar arrays in town, hoping the trend pushes green energy development more toward rooftops solar displays to keep space for larger homes in the areas surrounding Chepachet.

In addition to keeping downtown on the move, Forgue said the Land Trust and Conservation Commission are keeping Glocester’s walking trails and open spaces in peak condition as a major attraction to new possible homeowners.

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers on different boards and at different levels. They’re devoted and give a lot of their time to Glocester,” he said.

Independent William Reichert was appointed vice president of the council for his second term.