Town should be more conservative on spending

The following letter was sent to First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. It is reprinted here at the requeset of the author.

To the Editor:

I am concerned about the continued spending by your administration on town facilities. For years you and your predecessors have argued that having some of the most expensive school buildings per student, an indoor shooting range for our police department, building at Weed Beach, buying the Ox Ridge property… would be good for our property values. With property values steadily falling for years and the deductibility of state income taxes and property taxes capped at $10,000, isn’t it time for fiscal conservatism?

Building committees often fall in love with their projects and easily forget that they are spending other peoples’ money. Isn’t the Pear Tree Point Beach project, clearly disliked by so many neighbors, a great opportunity for the Town of Darien to show some restraint on spending?

Thank you for all that you do for Darien.

Benoît Jamar

Darien

Pear Tree Point Beach improvements should include a sidewalk

To the Editor:

If the Town of Darien wants to improve the Pear Tree Point Beach infrastructure, the first priority should be to address the issue of the dangerous Pear Tree Point access road. This lovely, scenic, winding road attracts an inordinately large number of pedestrians, runners, and bicycle riders, including young children and babies in strollers. Yet there are no sidewalks. And worse, in many places there are stretches of stone walls and fences that make it impossible to even step off the roadway. It would be irresponsible for the Town to not address this issue before undertaking anything that would increase automobile traffic on Pear Tree Point Road.

Edward V Spurgeon

Darien

Latest Pear Tree Point Beach building committee meeting was educational

To the Editor:

At the latest Pear Tree Point Beach building committee meeting, we learned a lot.

We learned that the taxpayers of Darien don’t want this building. Only one person out of dozens spoke in favor of the proposed structure.

We learned that the PTPBBC has done no work whatsoever to study the usage of Pear Tree Beach Park. No study on the recurring flooding problem. No study on the concession stand, yet they want to put $100,000 of taxpayer money into a new concession kitchen. No traffic or parking study. No study on boat ramp usage.

We learned that constructions costs will run in excess of $2.5 million. That does not include any professional fees such as architect and engineer fees. The project could easily run over $3 million.

We learned that the PTPBBC has not considered maintenance costs for this project.

We learned that the PTPBBC has not seriously considered any other alternatives to a two story structure.

We learned that The guardhouse at Pear Tree Point Beach Park is supposed to be removed for floods and the off-season. The Parks & Rec Director stated that they don’t do that; it’s a hassle for her staff.

We also learned that Parks & Rec finds it too difficult to maintain its existing facility at Weed Beach. It is already in a state of decay. Go take a look.

The next key meeting in the process is the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Nov. 20. The project requires two variances. Let’s hope the ZBA takes seriously its role in protecting our zoning.

Eventually, the RTM will need to appropriate around $3 million of our money to pay for this. Let’s hope our elected officials exercise more common sense than the appointed ones.

H.P. Boyle

Darien

Building a structure in a flood zone is ‘absurd’

To the Editor:

Contemplating spending nearly $2 million to build a two-story structure at Pear Tree Point Beach to create rental/community space is absurd. This area is an extreme flood zone. Residents have repeatedly complained that the beach completely floods often, during full/new moons, storms and just for no reason like Friday. Tide charts listed last Friday as an average high tide; it wasn’t raining, it wasn’t windy, and there was no storm in Darien.

Yet the Long Island Sound rose to a level that the west beach disappeared and the entire parking lot once again flooded up to the road. This same extreme flooding occurred on September 29th, 30th & October 1st & 3rd. It has nothing to do with a check valve needing to be installed in the storm drain in the parking lot, which is the excuse consistently quoted as the cause of the flooding at Pear Tree Point Beach. It’s stated on the town website on its new FAQ list, it’s been quoted in the newspaper, it’s been stated at every PTB building committee meeting and at Parks & Rec Commission meetings. The Parks & Rec department has told the public that the flooding photos “circulating around town” and posted on www.preservepeartreepointbeach.com are inaccurate and misinformation. These false statements were given to RTM members, Planning & Zoning and any other town official, volunteer or resident that questions this flooding. When the LI Sound is higher than the beach, a missing check valve on a storm drain does not cause the flooding!

Town officials need to be held accountable for this misinformation and need to start listening to residents. Please join over 700 fellow residents and sign the petition on our website www.preservepeartreepointbeach.com to stop the building of a two-story community/rental space in this extreme flood zone. The existing buildings can be easily renovated. Town officials want you to believe they can’t but our hired architect and builder confirmed they can. See photos of recent flooding, proposed building plans, resident comments and much more on our website. Give town officials a strong message. We want to preserve the simplicity of Pear Tree Point Beach.

Janienne Hackett

Darien

Senior disagrees improvements suggested at the beach will benefit her

To the Editor:

As a senior, I disagreed with the statement that Pear Tree needs to be improved for us. Just improve the building structure, bathrooms, and original footprint. Do not do expensive additions for outsiders to use our beach. We like our quiet beach!!

Carla Thompson

Darien

Proposed beach construction is flawed

To the Editor:

The PTPB construction is a flawed proposal and should be strongly opposed by residents who use and care about this naturally beautiful public space.

I voice this opinion as a long time and frequent user of PTPB who over a 30 year period has witnessed Mother Nature’s control over the proposed construction site.

The construction site is on a sand bar and in a flood zone that is often overwhelmed by high tides. Building a two story structure on this site is wrongheaded, irresponsible and wasteful.

Let’s come together, defeat this proposed project and do what is practical, economic and conserving of PTPB’s natural beauty — renovate the bathrooms, paint and maintain the existing building and get back to our beach chairs.

Chris Mangan

Darien

Another senior’s view — keep Pear Tree Point Beach simple

To the Editor:

Another senior’s view — our beach needs are truly simple and non-taxing! We need clean, periodic fresh sand, the ability to sit in our cars on cold and wintry days and look at the sand and surf and sound, clean and cleaned rest rooms and simple direct access to the beach.

Nothing more. We’ve had this battle once before on Weed Beach. And we lost the views. Drive to Weed Beach today and park and look out — at a weed and disorderly mass of grass blotting out the view. Let’s not repeat the mistakes. Keep it simple, serene.

Kathy and Peter F. Eder

Darien

Town should start maintaining the beach as is

To the Editor:

The proposal to create a new structure to generate rental income for Parks & Rec and the town from a public beach that has been long neglected seems ill-founded in the first instance. Not to mention that there is very little expressed or demonstrated need for such an undertaking, fiscally or otherwise. And it is an expensive long-term proposal in times that require or recommend fiscal conservancy and discretion.

The town and Parks & Rec has done a poor job of maintaining and improving this beach/park in the past 15-20 years. How about the start is —taking care of and maintaining the existing beach and small renovations to the existing structures and fortifying the beach. That is something that has not been done in almost 20 years. Changing the purpose of the beach to become a revenue generating property by building an expensive structure in a flood zone is tricky. It strikes one as something that should require greater inquiry and thought. Is it even legal/within the boundaries of the public park/ beach designation ? How is it allowed for an unelected group of folks to convert the use of a public beach without the town to vote upon such a significant change of use?

What is the rush? This all does not seem correct or judicious . And - it does not seem supported by the majority of town residents and those who live nearby and who are in the know. This smells bad. Slow down and take heed.

Beth Pope

Darien

Privately commissioned study shows Pear Tree Point Beach’s flooding risk growing

To the Editor:

With its proposal for Pear Tree Point Beach, Darien has strayed far from the stated goals and priorities of the Master Plan to include a year-round rental facility, a category that didn’t even make it into the 32 Highest Priorities for additional/expanded services. Even more troubling is the committee’s disregard for the location it plans to build on. The town admits that PTPB is in a FEMA designated flood zone, but only to reveal its cleverness in skirting the law: rather than renovate the existing building and be held to FEMA imposed monetary construction limits, it proposes to build a brand new building where the budgetary sky is the limit(!) But, surely, there is a point to FEMA’s designations. What about the real costs, both up front and long term, of building and maintaining in a flood zone?

Such questions inspired me to order a study of PTPB from a private company that helps people determine flood risks for insurance. (The PTPB Committee has not thus far ordered any studies to determine flooding feasibility, not for today and not for 10, 15, 30 years from today. Instead one member chose to look backwards, opining somewhat giddily at the last meeting that the beach is not much changed in shape since 1934.) According to my study, PTPB has a high and growing risk for tidal inundations on any given day of the year and is vulnerable to storm surge heights and inundation levels of 19.3’ and nearly 18’ respectively during a Category 3 hurricane. The increasing frequency of flooding in the parking lot is not the result of a clogged drain, the town’s unproven culprit for water spilling across the asphalt, but of rising seas. I ask: would you spend your own dollars on a multi-million-dollar facility that will surely flood regularly at the lower level and that risks flooding at the upper level during future big storms?

Darien should not proceed with its unpopular, shortsighted, and fiscally irresponsible plan to spend tax-payer funds on an expensive two-story luxury building in the middle of a flood zone.

Lisa M. Ryan-Boyle

Darien

Pear Tree Point Beach cannot afford to lose 35 parking spots

To the Editor:

The latest plans posted on the Parks and Rec Website indicate a scheme to remove 35 parking spaces in conjunction with “improvements” to Pear Tree Point Beach. On a nice summer holiday weekend with many beach goers and boaters heading to Pear Tree Point, the parking is already tight if not completely sold out. How can we afford to lose 35 of those precious parking spots?There has to be a way to keep these 35 spots and even to INCREASE the amount of parking down at Pear Tree Point.

Tom Lochtefeld

Darien