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From Across the Aisle 6/3/16

At the May 11th Board of Selectmen meeting, the Town’s environmental consultant HRP Associates recommended that the Town immediately clean up the contaminated soil at the Maintenance Area of the Country Club of Woodbridge that is designated a “Significant Environmental Hazard.” This new recommendation, a reversal of HRP’s previous position, was a result of input from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, called in at my request to evaluate the contamination and the Town’s long-delayed response.

HRP also recommended that the Town dig additional monitoring wells and perform additional groundwater sampling to further assess conditions at the CCW, especially at the Halfway House (located at the corner of Ansonia and Johnson Roads). These are steps in the right direction, but there is much more to be done. The Town still needs to complete the full cleanup at the Maintenance Area, create a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the Halfway House, which HRP has identified as the next priority, and perform the cleanup of the remainder of the property. At this time, there is no plan for when those next steps will occur.

Woodbridge residents continue to contact me with concerns about the future of the Country Club property. They have many ideas for the property’s future and want to be heard by their elected representatives. Despite my requests, there has not been a public meeting in over two years about the CCW where residents are invited to suggest ideas or ask questions. Instead, the First Selectman has been negotiating behind closed doors with the Toll Brothers; the Board of Selectmen has held several “Executive Sessions” on the subject. And Ms. Scalettar has made it clear that she favors selling a portion of the CCW to Toll Brothers for age restricted housing. At the May BOS meeting, she stated: “Personally, for me…to get $2million or so to keep it as a golf course does not compare to a proposal to have senior housing which people in the Town would like…”

At the Town’s Annual Meeting on May 16th, Ms. Scalettar even laid out a schedule to hold a single formal public hearing and then referendum on the potential sale of CCW land. Until asked, she never suggested that there would be an opportunity for residents to be heard prior to this formal process. She seems to view the CCW as an albatross around her neck that she wants to be rid of as quickly as possible. Instead, she should be viewing it – as many Town residents do—as an asset.

Frustrated residents have initiated petitions urging the First Selectman to involve the CCW Commission in negotiations with Billy Casper Golf to explore financial terms for continuing golf operations past December 2016. According to CCW commission chair Deke Hotchkiss, so far the 2016 golf season is performing better than all previous seasons, both in rounds played and in revenues. Other residents are promoting the pool, offering suggestions for the Club House, and exploring real estate alternatives to the Toll Brothers proposal. At the Annual Town Meeting, called primarily to address the budget for next year, it was telling that most residents came to the microphone to talk about the Country Club. Woodbridge residents are smart, creative, and thoughtful: they have much to contribute to the discussion on the CCW. Ms. Scalettar has delayed far too long in seeking their input.

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