Last years legislation to SWAP the 17.4 acres of State open space land known as Clark Creek Wildlife Management Area for an 87 acre failed sub-division, created a terrible precedent. All State open space is now vulnerable to “Swaps” whether for land and/or money! The protective language in the deed of the 17.4 acres was ignored and then obliterated. This precedent, that has created a loss in confidence in the State’s willingness or ability to protect its treasured preserved lands and natural resources, may forever slow the State’s goal of protecting 21% of the State of Connecticut as open space. NEVER before has State protected open space land been negotiated away for commercial development.
Unfortunately, the citizens of the town of Haddam never had an opportunity to weigh in on this SWAP. Citizens, conservation and environmental groups’ testimony and concerns were ignored. Legislators were told, if not outright lies about the lands, then at the very least distortions and exaggerations of the truth and facts. Additionally, many legislators, that initially were opposed to the SWAP, changed their votes due to pressure from the sponsoring and powerful ranking Senator Daily.
The so-called worthless polluted sandpit over-looking the Connecticut River, Eagle Landing State Park and Valley Railroad State Park besides offering lovely vistas to the River, also is a unique eco-system rarely found in the river valley. Now we have been told it is not “worthless”, but has been appraised at a million dollars or more that the 87 acres of woodland.
HOWEVER, the Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will not release the appraisal figures to the public. Using the guise of an exception to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the DEEP is keeping the information secret so that they can “negotiate” with the ONLY corporation involved, River House, LLC.
Why are there secret negotiations ongoing? This should be an open process! The legislation is clear; only one party besides the State is involved! The SWAP will be of land and other considerations of equal value. The Governor, the legislature, and the DEEP owe it to the citizens to take this “DEAL” out of the back room and into the light where all can see what is being discussed and “negotiated”!