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Former First Selectman Harrison Comments on Open Space

As the former First Selectman of Woodbridge, my administration bought more open space than any other Woodbridge administration. I was honored to advocate for those purchases, including the magnificent Elderslie property on Peck Hill Road.

After reading a recent letter from Chris Dickerson, I found his comments misleading and polarizing. Woodbridge is not Washington. Respectful and straightforward discourse should be our standard. The right to object is welcomed. The right to overstate is not constructive.

The essence of Chris’ letter was to criticize our First Selectman – Ellen Scalettar – for proposing to sell land that is part of the Country Club of Woodbridge. Ellen is evaluating options to sell only a portion of the land used for golf, only a portion. Part of the proposal includes preserving town ownership of major sections of that property and building walking trails for the public. Part of the proposal also includes using land for age restricted senior homes and maintaining a nine-hole golf course.

No decision has been made. In fact, Ellen has clearly stated that any proposal for the use of that property will face a town wide referendum. The May 4th election will not prevent such a referendum because a significant number of residents think using that land for senior housing is wise and fiscally responsible. It will eliminate the debt the town incurred to buy that property. It will provide a place to live for seniors after they become empty nesters. Given the isolated location of that land, it will not destroy the “long-standing character of Woodbridge.”

We owe our seniors, who have lived in Woodbridge for years, a good option to stay in Woodbridge. We owe our taxpayers, tax relief. We ought not fear change when change is proportional and prudent.

In past years, open space gained broad support that crossed party lines. All too recently, open space has become very partisan with grossly exaggerated claims that approach scare tactics. Woodbridge residents deserve better.

Roger M. Harrison

Former First Selectman

Town of Woodbridge

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