Op-Ed: CFE Supports Sale of Portion of South Park to ALT

 Citizens For Easton – a town-wide non-profit that has supported the preservation of open space since 1972 – is strongly in favor of the Aspetuck Land Trust’s bid to purchase a portion of the South Park property along the Mill River. Our hope is that the remaining portion will eventually be purchased by ALT, but we view this as the interim first step, and a vitally important one.

 So that there is no confusion as to our position, please allow me to offer some historic perspective on the matter. CFE was formed in 1972 in an effort to oppose intensive development at South Park.  At the time, we believed – and still do – that this development would have eviscerated our longstanding zoning regulations and thus opened the rest of the town up to intensive development and compromise the integrity of our public drinking water supply. We prevailed at the time and since then, have pursued a similar agenda in countless other standoffs with developers. 

 One of those standoffs, beginning in the mid-90s, centered on a large portion of land abutting the Saugatuck Reservoir, and which at the time was referred to as “Trout Brook Valley.”

CFE launched an internal group charged with battling this development, which we called Citizens to Save Trout Brook Valley. Thus began a multi-year initiative to dislodge a well-funded effort by a large corporation which was seeking to build an 18-hole golf course and 100-plus homes on 600 pristine acres of watershed. Once again, we prevailed. 

Why? There were many reasons and far too many to explain in this short space, but the Aspetuck Land Trust – our partner in this effort – was the leading one.  Their steadfast support and their outreach to other organizations, including the Nature Conservancy, ensured that the battle to save Trout Brook would be won. To this day ALT has managed Trout Brook – the jewel of  the Land Trust and the envy of land trusts throughout the state. 

ALT isn’t just a good steward: They are a steadfast one. They have saved thousands of acres in lower Fairfield County and they are now poised to save more along the Mill River and to continue to protect the water supply. They deserve our support and gratitude. We at CFE know they have earned it – over and over. 

 They certainly have our unequivocal support in the purchase of this property.  

You can read additional letters of support on the CFE website at  https://citizensforeaston.org/letters-of-support-from-conservation-organizations/ and access the CFE’s 2016 presentation to the board of selectmen here: https://citizensforeaston.org/south-park/presentation-to-board-of-selectmen/.

Verne Gay

Citizens for Easton


Editors’ note: A public hearing regarding the sale of portion of the South Park Avenue property will be held on Monday, April 18 at 7 p.m. at Samuel Staples Elementary School, 515 Morehouse Road. It is accessible via Facebook Live: https://facebook.com/events/s/public-hearing-on-proposed-sou/298107665837117/ and Zoom: Meeting ID: 860 4393 0099, Passcode: 06612.

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