Letters to the Editor

Residents step

up to clean up

To the Editor:

The Darien Beautification Commission and the Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the approximate 225 volunteers who helped clean up various parks, beaches, parking lots, woods and roads throughout Darien this past weekend.

We are always amazed at the number of Darienites who take the time to pitch in and help. Your efforts are greatly appreciated and certainly don't go unnoticed.

We would like to recognize the following individuals and groups for jobs well done: Paul Larson and the Kiwanis Club; Friends of Weed Beach; Colin Haupt and Friends of Cherry Lawn Park; Jen Blake and OxRidge School students; Darien Land Trust Shirley Nicols, Mary Rooney and Chris Filmer for cleanups at Olson, Dunlop and Sellecks Woods; Gilda Haranzo and Cub Scout Pack 161; Janine Marzano and The Depot; Martha O'Dell and Girl Scout Troop 50815; Senior Mens' Association; Mark Mirabile and the Darien Y Guides and Indian Princesses; Sabina Harris and Hindley School volunteers; the George Family; members of the Beautification Commission; Linda Goodyear and the Darien Green Team; Sandy Filmer and ABC students; Darien High School students; Colleen Lynch and Tokeneke School volunteers;

We also want to give special thanks to Anthony Loparco, owner of Upper Crust Bagel, for his ongoing generosity and donation of bagels and coffee to feed the hungry crowds!

Last but not least, to George Swift and the DPW for their swift removal of all the collected trash bags and debris around town.

We hope to see all of you at our fall clean-up to be scheduled in October.

Suzanne Schutte

Darien Beautification Commission

Carol Wilder Tamme

Darien Chamber of Commerce

Boy Scout Tag Sale

this weekend

To the Editor:

Lately, the phrase "fun-raiser" has crept into our vocabulary, promising a good time while raising money for a worthy case. It is the perfect description for the annual Boy Scout Tag Sale being held this Sunday, May 2, at the Darien Scout Cabin on West Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Not only are there great finds such as first-edition books, almost brand new bicycles, the perfect lawnmower, useable laptops, comfy furniture and housewares to stock a son's or daughter's first apartment, but there is an upbeat energy and excitement about the place as Darien reduces and recycles its stuff. Join us for the fun!

Joellyn Gray

President, Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust and Scout Cabin

Clean-up a success

To the Editor:

On Saturday, April 24, the Darien Beautification Commission sponsored our townwide Clean-Up Day. It was a glorious day. Suzanne Schutte did a marvelous job organizing this event. The purpose is to pick up trash and other litter on our public streets, sidewalks and downtown areas and to help some of the business owners clean up around their stores and parking lots. Many, many volunteers from the Darien community came out to help: The Senior Men; The Darien Land Trust; The Friends of Selleck's Woods; and members of The Green Team organizations among others.

Somehow we missed getting the message to all the citizens of Darien that live in our neighborhoods and on our town streets about doing their part to clean up in front of their own properties.

It would be wonderful if all of us could make that a first priority next Saturday, or even every Saturday, to check the area in front of our own homes and clean up any unsightly liter. This would only take a few minutes but what a difference it would make in the beauty of our neighborhoods.

Now that spring is here there is another item I need to mention on this clean-up issue. Every weekend we can find all of the sports field at our schools very busy. The young people, parents, siblings, friends and coaches are all on hand. I would kindly urge everyone involved to please be responsible for keeping the fields free of litter, bottles, even clothes when the games are over. The litter around these schools and playing fields is really awful and certainly unnecessary. It leaves our schools, streets and neighborhoods looking trashy.

Our Beautification Commission members work very hard to keep our town looking beautiful -- from daffodil planting, hanging baskets and other projects, along with the many members of our "Friends" groups of our parks, woodlands and ponds, as well as The Land Trust, to mention only a few, working to keep these areas litter free for all the people of Darien; we the citizens must do our share. We can do it together.

Linda Goodyear

Director, The Green Team

Gymnastics should not return to the YMCA

To the Editor:

The Darien YMCA runs a very successful gymnastics program at the Goodwives Shopping Center. Its athletes have trained at this facility for years and have performed very well at the state and national level (the recently won states again).

The current central location offers more than adequate parking at a shopping center that can accommodate more traffic. The facility is well insured and must be safe for the activities that are carried out in such a program.

There is no need to move the gymnastics center on to the Y's Boston Post Road property. Several years ago the Y made commitments to the town and Planning and Zoning to keep gymnastics off-site as a condition of getting other expansions approved. P&Z also turned down the Y's 2008 attempts to gain approval for an on-site gymnastics center citing ongoing concerns re intensity of use. So why does the Y now litigate against their earlier commitment and the P&Z decision?

Lease cost escalation is also not a satisfactory reason for the Y to consider relocation. As a non-profit, the Y is exempt from paying town taxes and currently earns surpluses of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. In addition, further profits are earned on roughly $5 million of capital account investments. Y membership fees have increased substantially over the years and the Y can and should pay increased lease costs just as we Town residents are paying increased real estate taxes.

As a Y member, I don't want my expensive annual fees subsidizing special permit expansion. Spending millions of dollars to build a gymnastics center to support a relatively small group of privileged children who already have adequate facilities is not a fair use of fees for the vast majority of the Y's members.

I would rather see a sizeable increase in scholarships and moneys to support the less fortunate, both activities more in line with the Y's Christian mission statement, especially during these years of greater need.

As a Y neighbor, I also don't want the Y breaking its covenant by expanding and bringing its gymnastics center into our residential neighborhood.

John P. Bassler


Seagate Association

An open letter to the RTM

To all RTM members:

Vote no on any mill rate and tax increase. Be responsive to the reality that is affecting the majority of Darien residents: financial downsizing.

Let's not allow the vocal few to continue and blind our fiscal judgements. School budgets must be held flat to last year.

Enough is enough.

Nick DeMarco


It's time to keep our promise

To the Editor:

The Weed Beach Renovation Project, four years in development, was designed to bring the 30-plus-year-old facilities up to the standards that most citizens and prospective citizens expect for our town. The project was approved by all relevant town bodies: P&Z, EPC, Board of Finance, Board of Selectmen and the RTM.

Concerns over economic conditions prompted the Board of Selectmen to place a "hold" on the project in 2009. With the outlook for the economy improving, it is timely for the board to release this "hold" in the near future so construction can begin in the fall of 2010 to assure completion of the project for the summer 2011 season.

The Playground on the Sound Committee, a group of Darien families with young children, raised some $250,000 for the construction of the playground portion of the project. Construction was completed in 2009 with the expectation by all who contributed that the construction of the balance of the project would follow in short order. Use of the playground in all seasons has exceeded expectations. Unfortunately, this beautiful addition makes the rest of the beach facilities look even more shabby and outdated.

The Garden Club of Darien raised some $45,000 from the community for trees and other landscaping improvements. This most generous contribution cannot be effectively spent until the project is constructed.

Construction plans for the balance of the work are complete and the project is essentially "shovel ready." Labor and material costs will likely never be lower than they are now. If the project is funded via a bond issue, current interest rates for the town are now at an all-time low.

The "new" Weed Beach will add significantly to the beauty and attractiveness of our town. It is reasonable to expect that it can also make a positive contribution to real estate values as it will be a special attraction for prospective Darien residents. Most importantly, it will be a wonderful thing for all Darien families.

The $3.5 million budget to complete the balance of the project is a small investment relative to the benefits it will bring to our town and its citizens.

Charlie Goodyear


cc. Members of the Board of Selectmen