Woodbridge’s celebrated rural character is not by accident. It’s the product of vigilant residents who’ve fought and prevailed against harmful land use efforts. That vigilance is needed now more than ever.
Imagine a hydrogen fuel cell facility covering half of the former golf course. It’d be a “green” facility. But does that “greenness” justify the loss of a tranquil recreation area, an important wildlife habitat, prime agricultural soils and scenic vistas? The solar “farm” proposed for half of the former golf course would be just as green and no less damaging. Every acre covered with steel and glass is one less acre serving the work of carbon cleansing (really, with thousands of rooftop acres available for solar panels, does it make sense to cover green space instead?). The only “green” in these proposals is that which goes into the pockets of a few profiteers.
And now another threat. It’s reported that the housing task force is zeroing in on the Fitzgerald Tract as the site for affordable housing. Imagine, the home of the community gardens and walking trails and hay fields taken for a housing development. Not since the Board of Selectmen endorsed the idea of a recreational complex for the Massaro Farm was a more bone-headed land use decision made by town leaders (thankfully, we reversed that Massaro endorsement).
The maxim in medicine –First, Do No Harm— is a rule to follow in all things, especially political ones. When we needed a new firehouse, the Fitzgerald Track was the favored location, on the hay field (then a corn field) at Center and Beecher Roads. When residents rejected that site, the corner of Pease and Center Roads (now the vibrant Off Center Farm) was the next target. That too was defeated. Only when the Conservation Commission recommended a lot on the margins of Fitzgerald – one that didn’t interfere with the gardens or walking trails or farming, was a suitable site found. It was a win for the firehouse and a win for Fitzgerald, with no harm done to open space or to the town’s rural character. The housing task force could learn from that example. The site at Meetinghouse Lane and Center Roads, in between the tennis courts and Town Hall, for example, is on the margins, yet is part of the Town Center. Its use would not be at anyone’s expense. A good architect could plan a quaint village that would complement our historic town center and our town’s rural character. A win/win.
A solution that does no harm is the right solution – not Fitzgerald, not the golf course. A solution that reinforces our town’s rural character and beautifies our town center is the winning one.