Lawmaker pushes for open space
State Rep. Jason Bartlett, D-Bethel, said he has invited officials from throughout the region to take a walk of the property on Sunday. The event, which is open to the public, is also being sponsored by the Preservation Advocates for Terre Haute.
"I want people to see the pristine beauty of the property so they can understand why we should preserve it as open space and place a conservation easement on it," Bartlett said. "This will serve as a kickoff for my save Terre Haute campaign."
He said the campaign will include a forum with guest speaker State Rep. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden. Sharkey is the former chairman of the Legislature's Planning and Review Committee and an expert on land use issues.
State Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, who serves as chairman of the legislature's Environmental Committee, is planning to attend the walk.
"While I always like to keep something as open space, it shouldn't be done sight unseen," Roy said. "That's why I plan to take a look at the property and see what they are trying to protect."
Roy said he supports Bartlett's efforts to give a $2 million grant to the city of Danbury to purchase part of the Terre Haute property located there from Bethel. A conservation easement would be placed on that portion of the property as part of the proposals.
Local officials, however, have said the land is not for sale.
"The people of Bethel own it and they've done a marvelous job protecting it," First Selectman Robert Burke said. "It's not for sale."
Members of the Board of Selectmen recently asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to remove a recommendation in the proposed 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development that calls for a conservation easement on the property.
Tom Carruthers, a board member for PATH, said placing a conservation easement on Terre Haute and developing a comprehensive recreational plan for the property would do more than protect the environment.
"It would also have a positive economic impact," he said. "Just look at some of the state parks in the area. The parking lots are full on the weekends. Terre Haute could draw people to Bethel from throughout the region. Those people would then visit local restaurants and merchants. It could also equate to a better quality of life and higher property values."
Officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection have also been invited to attend. The department will be providing an RV that will include interactive activities for children to learn more about the environment. Walks will be held at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and will set out from Trowbridge Drive, a cul-de-sac located inside Francis J. Clark Industrial Park.
Contact Dirk Perrefort at email@example.com
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