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Letter: CCW Property Historically Significant

As I understand it, the Woodbridge Board of Selectmen are considering four options for the former Country Club of Woodbridge (CCW) property.  This even with advice provided this spring on how divided Woodbridge residents are with regards to the future of the CCW in a very non-scientific survey sent to towns residents.  The timeframe to complete the survey was extremely short and many of the surveys returned were not even considered; the entire survey process was flawed.

Your selectmen have even been meeting in both public and “Executive Session” to discuss these options:

  1. Sale of 40 acres for detached clustered homes, maintain the 18 hole golf course, restaurant, banquet facilities and pool;
  2. A 10-acre assisted living facility on Woodfield Road;
  3. Large age-restricted facility keeping a nine-hole golf course; or
  4. Converting the entire property into a 24-megawatt solar farm.

All of this is being done without a formal RFP or consensus plan on the CCW property.  Any of these will require a zoning change and could open other areas in the rest of Woodbridge to similar development.

Not under consideration, it seems, is:

  1. Open the golf course up again as it had been run prior to last year;
  2. Create a farm; or
  3. Do nothing.

The story has not been told to Woodbridge residents about the history of the property deeds for the Country Club of Woodbridge and the history of this property.  One-time owners include Captain John Beecher and Patriot & Statesman Roger Sherman.  The Roger Sherman connection to the CCW property is the fact that he owned that property as Clover Hill Farm during/around the time he was mayor of New Haven.

This was discussed in the recent annual meeting of the Amity and Woodbridge Historical Society on May 20 by John Jenner from the Sherman Historical Society, a Roger Sherman expert, who said a “trail” was being developed between New Milford and New Haven of Sherman’s travels, and it could pass by Woodbridge and the CCW property.  There will be a write up about the talk in the Historical Society’s June/July Newsletter.  Minimally, it would be appropriate for an historical plaque there on the Clover Hill Farm property in the general area of the farmhouse location on Ansonia Road.

Roger Sherman lived from 1721 to 1793 and is a USA Founding Father.  He is the only person to have signed all papers of independence of the United States:  the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.  He was an influential member of the Constitutional Convention and a true statesman, with a very local connection.  In 1784, he was the first mayor of New Haven.  I urge anyone to do your own web search on this prominent citizen, and his family.  Especially start with http://www.townhistory.org/clover-hill-farm/.

Of significant additional historical interest is that the owner prior to Roger Sherman was Captain John Beecher.  His family’s presence on the former CCW property in what was to become Woodbridge also takes us back to the founding of New Haven and the original Beecher family in America.  These are the ancestors of Lyman Beecher and his daughter Harriet Beecher Stowe — and her notable siblings as well.  More needs to be conveyed to Woodbridge residents on this.

It seems very few in Woodbridge are aware of the historical significance of this property being once a farm held by the only person who signed all four documents of independence of the United States…property held in our own town.  Arguably this is the most historically significant location in our town.

A breakeven financial model for this property can be developed!  Other than that, why would we want to develop this crown jewel, especially with requisite changes to our zoning regulations?  Does history (and open space) even matter anymore?

Richard J. Forselius

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