Let's preserve the land

Orange First Selectman Mitchell Goldblatt's statement at last weeks Board of Selectmen meeting was surprising.

During public participation Sharon and Jim Ewen presented the board with an update on their attempt to preserve the historic farm that they own in conjunction with other relatives. Following their presentation Selectman Jim Zeoli alerted the board to incentives that Gov. Jodi Rell was offering to protect the fast dwindling farmland.

After Zeoli finished, Goldblatt made the comment that in order to apply for the funds one needs to show proof that the town is in negotiations with the owners.

This comment displays the disingenuousness of the First Selectman. He attempts to imply the issue of selling the farmland is a new issue that he is just beginning to address.

While Goldblatt may be in his infancy stage of addressing the issue, the matter is far from new.

Last year, May 5, 2004, to be exact, this publication dedicated its entire front page to the plight of the Ewen family in their attempt to preserve this natural jewel in the center of town. In fact, the headline was "Town Jewel For Sale."

Recounted in this article was a statement by the First Selectman saying if the Ewen's relatives were expecting the town to pay the asking price of $4.5 million for the 66 acres that were for sale, it would never happen.

For nearly two years Goldblatt has known about the potential sale of this property and has sat on his hands.

Why has he not asked the taxpayers if they wanted to preserve this open space that is home to many creatures and is also a watershed for the Indian River?

When there was contemplation of purchasing Tucker's Ridge and the Racebrook Tract a referendum was held to allow taxpayers the opportunity to decide whether they wanted the property.

Is it because one of his developer friends is interested in building luxury McMansions on the property?

If that is the case Goldblatt should be ashamed of himself. He should stop looking for the nickels and dimes for his re-election coffers and remember his roots.

Too many times already he has put the interest of developers before the interest of the residents of town. Look at the transnational big box store Target. He sold out an entire neighborhood for that. Look at the Pepe Property behind the transfer station. He has repeatedly spoke in favor of building on that delicate ecosystem. And remember Stew Leonard's. He has adamantly and repeatedly spoken in favor of the dairy magnate. This time he has stacked the Plan and Zoning Commission for Stew with appointments that he has made which will guarantee a favorable vote. Two of the Democratic members of the Zoning Commission that will vote on the Stew Leonard's proposal are Goldblatt appointments who were not elected by the voters.

Mr. First Selectman, its long past time for you to put the interests of your community first. We would hope that you keep politics out of this issue. The preservation of this property will serve many future generations to come.

As Mark Twain said 'Take care of the land, they aren't making any more.'