Letter: Money in town budget for Highland Farm improvements unnecessary

To the Editor:

I understand that the Board of Selectman has proposed approximately $600,000 for improvements to Highland Farm.  While it is not clear from the copy of the budget on the town’s website what the breakdown of those expenses are, I presume it is largely for 92 parking spaces and possibly a comfort station. I don’t believe this is a prudent allocation of taxpayer dollars at this time primarily for the following reason; it’s unnecessary.  The Ox Ridge Hunt Club has been hosting large events on that field that had hundreds of cars, tractor trailers, and trucks for many decades, and there was never a need for gravel or paved parking.  The June Benefit Horse Show, the Harriman Cup Polo Match, and fundraising events like the Person to Person fundraiser all have managed successful events without paved parking.  If the goal is to see more people use the property, then it would be prudent and wise to make that area more pedestrian friendly by installing sidewalks that serve to connect neighborhoods and bring people to Highland Farm. It’s a matter of public safety and common sense to start with sidewalks, even at a much bigger cost.

Now is the time for the RTM to have input and influence on the development and implementation of the Highland Farm plan. With the State of Connecticut facing extremely challenging financial times, and the uncertainty around the impact on Darien, our tax dollars require even more scrutiny. The plan to develop Highland Farm deserves more careful planning. Let’s take the time to do this well, and do it once. I hope the RTM will use this time to redirect the Board of Selectmen to revise its budget so that taxpayers dollars are used more wisely.  Thank you for your time.

Jenny Schwartz

Darien