To the Editor:
I think we should all be clear on the history of the South Park Avenue property going back to 2008. In 2008, the Town was confronted with a developer who wanted to put essentially 72 double-wide trailers on slabs on the property using the affordable housing statues as defense to change the zoning of the parcel. The developer was going to the state court using the 8-30g statute. Given the Town was not in compliance, we ran a serious risk of losing the lawsuit.
First Selectman Herrmann proposed buying the property and then negotiated a “Lease and Purchase Option Agreement” with The New England Prayer Center. The agreement, signed on May 28th, 2008 by First Selectman Herrmann, states the NEPC “agrees to pay the Town the total of $300,000 as consideration for the property. The NEPC then had the right of first refusal to purchase the property later for $6,150,000.
When this “opportunity” was presented to the Town in 2008, it was expressly positioned as the best of the options available to the town at that point. If the Town did not want the developer to buy the property, we would have to buy it first. However, it was expressly stated in all the meetings by then First Selectman Herrmann that we would buy the land, and then lease it to the NEPC with their intent to buy it from the Town within three years. If you look closely at the agreement with the NEPC it says in a big box in capital letters at the top of the agreement, “LEASE AND PURCHASE OPTION AGREEMENT.”
The town never intended to keep the land as open space in 2008. It was not presented to the Town that way when we voted to purchase the property. We bought the property in 2008 to sell it to the NEPC so they could eventually build a Megachurch on the property.
In 2022, we now have an option to preserve the space with an agreement to buy it by the Aspetuck Land Trust with a grant from the State of CT. It is a much better choice than building the NEPC Megachurch proposed in 2008.
I encourage everyone in Town to vote YES on the proposal to sell 19 acres to the Aspetuck Land Trust next Tuesday. They will preserve the land for Easton to enjoy forever.