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Letter: Let the People of Woodbridge Decide on the Proposal to Protect Land

While the First Selectman and town attorney pursue the Arbor Haven deal and dangle the prospect of a $9 Million bonanza to taxpayers, a closer look and some common sense will show whether the $9 Million is a bonanza or Fool’s Gold instead.

Beyond the fact that the cost of services for residential development exceeds the taxes from it, the hard cost of a new school obliterates any pretense of a bonanza.  When neighboring Hamden approved $24.2 Million for a new West Woods School, inflation upped the cost to $26 Million.  Then construction estimates came in at $32 Million.  And that was before the 2021 leap in building material costs.  Given our experience with Beecher Road School expenses, we see the flaming red ink on the wall.  The $9 Million is fool’s gold.

But there are even more painful costs to consider.  The golf course has evolved into a vibrant sanctuary where many enjoy a peaceful refuge from Covid.  Its value to mental and physical well-being is incalculable.

Also, a significant part of the land is prime agricultural soil.  Imagine one day working lands that contribute to the region’s food security.  Just as we are vulnerable to pandemics, so are food sources vulnerable to blight.  Our dependence on industrial agriculture makes it wise to preserve local resources that can serve for food production.

And then quality of life.  In a meeting last summer with the town officials, I was stunned to hear that the term “quality of life” is offensive today, as if wanting to preserve rural character is somehow racist or exclusionary.  Hogwash.  I’ve lived in New York City and three smaller cities and found my peace in the country.  Find your peace where you will, but it’s not exclusionary to preserve 145 acres for the benefit of all people.

The Woodbridge Park Association and Woodbridge Land Trust proposal to protect the land with a conservation easement is in the best interest of our town and region.  While Beth criticizes the $250,000 offer as too low, she omits from the calculation that town residents have already paid $400,000 a year for 13 years.  Add that for a proper accounting.  And account for the remaining millions in value of the 10-acre clubhouse parcel when the administration acts responsibly and returns it to the grand list.

This administration should honor democracy.  Instead of wasting more money on consultants, order a referendum.  Let the people of Woodbridge decide on the proposal to protect that land.

Jim Urbano

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