Leaders endorse open space agent idea

To the Editor:

As concerned citizens of Milford, we strongly support the proposal for the city to hire an open space agent, who will create and execute a plan to fully restore Milford’s passive open spaces, such as Eisenhower Park and Mondo Ponds.

This individual will first develop an overall prioritized plan to restore these woodlands, wetlands, trails and wildlife habitats in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. More importantly, the agent will locate and coordinate available resources to accomplish the plan, seeking free assistance from the State of Connecticut Foresters, Yale and UConn’s forestry programs, the Southwest Conservation District, students, scouts, civic groups, and open space neighbors. The individual would also apply for grants.

This is not about yet another study or consultant’s report. This is about action.

Open spaces in Eisenhower Park, the Solomon Property and others have seriously deteriorated due to erosion, invasive plants, vandalism, ATV abuse and regular use. In fact, an independent and free 2010 report by the state’s esteemed King’s Mark Environmental Review Team concluded that Eisenhower Park had been “neglected for approximately 40 years.”

We cannot allow our investment in these properties to continue to depreciate through neglect. Study after study has shown that well-kept open space is a community asset that enhances property values, and offers priceless opportunities for passive recreation, outdoor family activities, education, wildlife diversity, and better water quality.

Funding will come from the open space account–fees paid by subdivision developers in lieu of setting aside open space. These funds, by law, cannot be used for anything except land acquisition and maintenance.

Some have said we should keep the money to acquire more land. We believe it’s time to shift our emphasis from acquisition to restoration. What we are now doing-or not doing-is like buying an expensive car and never changing the oil. The time for action is now. If we wait, the job of restoration will only get bigger and more expensive.

We ask for your support and urge our Alderman to approve this proposal at their Sept. 10 meeting. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to guarantee the healthy, positive outdoor experiences, biodiversity and natural beauty Milford has always been known for.

William Poutray, Conservation Commission

Letitia Malone, Open Space Advisor

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