I am writing in support of the Town’s sale of an 18 acre parcel of the South Park property to the Aspetuck Land Trust. This sale transfers this environmentally sensitive property to a conservation organization with the necessary experience and expertise to preserve and maintain this land. The sale is for market value, returning at least some of the Town’s $6 million investment in this property, and results in this land being preserved in perpetuity. The Board of Selectmen has unanimously endorsed this sale, and the South Park Advisory Committee, Citizens For Easton and the Conservation Commission (despite the recent remarks of its chairwoman) officially support same.
As it is hard to criticize the sale itself, most, if not all, of the criticism directed at this transaction goes to the fact that the Town still owns the remaining 10 acres, and that by not selling all of land at one time, somehow a plan is afoot to ultimately sell this remaining parcel to a developer, in the dead of night and with the stroke of a pen. Such an occurrence is now impossible due to our new ordinance prohibiting the sale of any town land worth more than $200,000 (the remaining 10 acre parcel is worth far more than that amount) without majority Town approval through an annual meeting. No amount of insinuations, innuendo, and conspiracy theories changes this simple fact.
Lastly, some have suggested voting down this sale in favor of renegotiating an agreement to sell the entire parcel to the Land Trust at a later date. This approach ignores the complexities of a land purchase by a not for profit entity reliant on fundraising and grants, as well as the fact that the Land Trust may very well throw up its hands and refuse to work with us again if it fails in its two year effort to purchase this parcel. According to our First Selectman, they have said as much, nor could I for one blame them.
The issue of how to handle the South Park property has been an open wound for this Town for 14 years, causing much discord and strife. This sale will heal at least some of that wound, in the best way possible. Please vote “yes” on this sale on May 3rd.