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Letter: Make a Choice that is Best for the Future of Woodbridge

I purchased my home on Johnson Road in 2012 and enjoyed a nice view of the Country Club of Woodbridge.   Although I am not a golfer, I loved the manicured landscape, the walking paths and variety of trees and plants found on the course.  When the course closed in 2017, I was anxious about what the future of the property would be.

Since then, I have watched our town leaders get courted by big developers (Toll, Arbor, etc.), only to have those companies withdraw their bids when they felt the town climate would not be supportive of massive housing projects on the land.  I have attended BOS (Board of Selectmen) meetings, spoken out publicly, written many letters and met with the Town Selectman on multiple occasions, offering up broader and more inclusive ideas for the land.  These ideas included solar panels on the property, which could generate revenue for the town, a disc golf course, which requires little to no maintenance on the property and is a sport that can be enjoyed by ALL ages, moving the town Recreation Center to the existing clubhouse, considering it is currently using the town elementary school and selling “Leisure Passes” to households in town to use the walking paths, pond for fishing and skating and other various activities that can be available.  I would even be in favor of a small cluster of age restricted homes, built around the Clubhouse area (similar to the proposal in 2020), but would like to see the excess land deeded back held in a Conservation or Land Trust.

Building single family homes, condos, apartments and other housing will put a major strain on our already bursting schools, public works, police, fire and roadways.  The money made by selling off the land will not result in a reduction of taxes, but rather will be needed to expand the multiple departments that will need to increase based on the increase in young families and children.  Residents have been given rose-colored glasses and been fed lies to think selling the property to build hundreds of non-age restricted homes will save us money.  It costs a household $56 a year to pay down the debt owed on the property.  Each household will be lucky if they get $56 back in tax relief if the town sells to a large developer.  But the leaders are not telling us that…but the developers are realizing it, hence why they are pulling out.

I have read and educated myself on the new law in Connecticut, requiring housing for all incomes and economic status.  I understand that our town needs to comply with the law.  However, why not use the small open spaces throughout the “downtown” area to build apartments?  The roads around those properties are already meant for high volume, there are already bus lines in place for those residents and those properties can tap into the public water and sewage system.  The money spent on upgrading the CCW property to accommodate these types of homes will essentially cancel out any tax relief you are promising to the town’s people.  I drive on Bradley Road daily and see plenty of opportunity for multi-use housing that will not take away from the beautiful and historic space the CCW offers.

At the end of the day, our town leaders need to write up a proposal, based on input from the town’s people, which can then be used to attract developers and will be based on OUR needs, not a developer.  A proposal that includes a multitude of uses; Solar panels along Ansonia, Recreation Center on Woodfield, Splash Park on Johnson, Disc Golf throughout.  Sitting and waiting for the money hungry developers to dictate what we should do with the land is short sighted and will continue to fail.  We have not had a single referendum on the property since the Golf Course closed, and that is a clear sign that the people of Woodbridge want something other than massive housing on the CCW property.  Listen to your constituents and make a choice that is best for the FUTURE of Woodbridge, not just picking the easy button.

Katie Irwin

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