Any housing development will bring in one-time funds and ongoing tax revenue to the town if the former Country Club property is sold. But are these funds really enough to make it a good deal? Some say yes, others, no. On the flip side, there are many residents who would like to preserve the environment and open space as-is. But can Woodbridge afford to absorb the debt of the land purchase and miss out on the revenue that would come with an increased tax base? Again, some say yes, others, no.
Let’s think about other options…is there something else that we can consider to help both our wallets and our environment at the same time? The answer is yes! There is a very elegant solution that would bring in significant funds to the town and also allow for open park space that we all can enjoy: The Woodbridge Solar Park.
“What is a solar park?” I can hear you ask…well, it’s just like a regular park with trees, walking paths, waterways, and wildlife, but it also has solar panels in some of the open areas. Those panels generate 100% clean, renewable electricity that would bring in very significant amounts of revenue to the town. In fact, the proposal the town received a few years ago would have brought in $23 million in 25 years.
The caveat is that the older proposal was to cover the entire property with panels, which isn’t the best use of the land. Still, even if we use only 50% of the property for solar, we would be making hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, without all of the negatives of housing (such as an increased burden on our schools and public services). We can decide which areas we would like to keep natural, and which would be good for the panels. For example, a buffer of park space along Johnson Road and Ansonia Road would be a good idea. The sledding hill and lake area can be preserved. A small parking lot and a bike path can be discussed.
Rooftop solar in Woodbridge can be difficult due to the wooded nature of the town. The former WCC property represents an ideal location that has 3-phase power access and where the trees have already been cleared.
This is our opportunity to create a park that is sustainable in more ways than one. It will be financially sustainable and bring in significant revenue to the town. It will also be environmentally sustainable, helping us to reduce pollution and reliance on fossil fuels (which are often from foreign sources). Perhaps best of all, we would still own the property.
To make this a reality, the Board of Selectmen needs to know that we are interested in getting a new proposal for a mixed-use solar park. Please write to them and voice your support during the monthly meetings.
Kent Golden, Resident/former member of the Woodbridge Sustainability Committe