Op-Ed: Vote ‘Yes’ on May 3–and Let’s Set the Record Straight About Affordable Housing

I want to add my voice to the chorus singing the praises of the sale of approximately 19 acres of the South Park Avenue property to the Aspetuck Land Trust. This plan is the very best way to permanently protect and preserve this environmentally sensitive parcel along the Mill River.

I agree with everything my Board of Selectmen colleagues have already said in support of this sale. We are unanimous in our support. I write separately to respond to arguments made by some who inexplicably oppose this transfer. One bugaboo they have raised is that the remaining town-owned property will be used for affordable housing. Let me be clear – there is no proposal to develop this site for affordable housing.

The town is required by state law to submit an affordable housing plan to the state by June 1, 2022. Every town in the state is under the same obligation. The plan being developed for Easton now includes a fairly comprehensive list of strategies for meeting the state mandate under Connecticut General Statutes 8-30g to have 10 percent of every town’s housing stock meet the affordable housing criteria. Our draft plan lists 13 different strategies for meeting the mandate. Some of these strategies are more realistic and more feasible than others. None have been adopted or implemented by the town. The South Park Avenue property is listed as one of the 13 strategies.

We considered removing the South Park Avenue property from the list of possible strategies and decided not to do so. The plan calls for consideration of alternatives. We felt that it would be disingenuous not to include this town-owned site among the strategies, especially once the committee included it in their draft. It seemed riskier to remove the South Park Avenue Property from the list than to leave it in.

This is a far cry from saying we have a plan to build affordable housing on South Park Avenue. We do not. But we do have a duty to provide an honest assessment of the possibilities in the five year affordable housing plan we must file with the state.

Vote yes on May 3rd to preserve the vulnerable South Park Avenue property. And vote yes for our town budget, Region 9 budget and the Demolition Delay Ordinance.

Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Thank you.

Bob Lessler
Selectman

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