As our town leaders now consider issuing an RFP for the use of the Country Club property, I urge everyone to consider the possibility of a solar farm on the eastern half of the property, and a lovely park for the community on the Johnson Road half of the property.
Preliminary estimates are that a solar farm on half of the Country Club property could generate as much as $500,000 per year every year in revenues to the town without any of the expenses to the town that new housing implies. Solar does not create added costs for our schools, library, police, fire, town hall, or roads. We could lease the solar panels from a solar company, and in so doing, the town would not need to spend a dime to get them, install them, or maintain them.
We also would not need to sell the land. Should we need to use the property for something else at the end of the lease period in 15 – 20 years, we would retain that option. By using removable structures that do not mar the landscape with concrete, we could ask the solar company to take them away at the end of a lease and the land would not be damaged.
With the revenues from a solar farm, we could pay for the remaining debt on the Country Club property, maintain a lovely park on the Johnson Road side, and help stabilize our mill rate. Future revenues from a solar farm could also help pay for more affordable senior housing in the business district without building more market rate housing, and thereby help us make real progress on our affordable housing goals.
Lastly, and very importantly, a solar farm would position our town as a renewable energy leader in the state, doing its part in weaning our dependence on fossil fuels. We need to move away from fossil fuels quickly in order to avert the worst effects of climate change, and stop paying for the wars of autocrats.
Let’s not rush into an RFP for more housing proposals when we know that more housing will require us to give up control over the property, ruin the land, and only make money for developers and not the town.
Please contact our First Selectman’s office at Town Hall ASAP and ask the Board of Selectmen to begin a thoughtful RFQ and RFP process to see specifically what a solar farm would offer our town. Thank you.