Ward 4 Ald. David DeFronzo, who voiced strong objections to a zone change allowing a proposal to use park land for a COSTCO store earlier this month, has reiterated his opposition in a statement released on June 16th.
The Common Council will take up the zoning change at its June 22nd meeting.
For over 150 years – until now – through Republican and Democratic administrations alike, New Britain elected officials have had the good sense to protect and preserve our precious parks. Through the Great Depression, through recessions and through repeated economic downturns, mayors and council members have had the courage to say no to the destruction of our park land.
The plan to sell city parkland to Costco is bad for New Britain. It repudiates our long standing values and is a clear admission that the city lacks a cohesive, well thought out economic development policy. With well over 70 acres of developable land at Pinnacle Heights and on Myrtle Street and with dozens of vacant properties available for development, the city council is asked to endorse a plan that will permanently alter A.W. Stanley Park. Is that the best we can do? And does anyone think that once we go down this path that the redevelopment of our parks will stop with A.W. Stanley?
City officials need to proceed with a great deal of caution when considering the Costco proposal. There are certainly a number of unanswered questions pertaining to this plan, including increased traffic congestion, environmental issues and quality of life concerns. Last week, Attorney General George Jepsen indicated he would be seeking information from the mayor and corporation counsel to determine whether or not the sale of this property is even permissible. At a minimum, any action on this plan should be postponed until all sides have all the available information. Any action beyond this would be irresponsible and not in the long term interest of the city.
This has nothing to do with being pro-business or anti-business; it has everything to do with exercising good judgment and being good stewards of our limited natural resources. Just last year the City Plan Commission – citizens appointed unilaterally by the mayor – designated A.W. Stanley as New Britain’s most valuable open space and identified it as such in the City’s Plan of Conservation and Development. What has happened in the last six months to change that?
The Stanley family set this land aside for use as a park in perpetuity. It continues to be needed and it is used by hundreds of people every week and the intent of the deed is clear. Alix Stanley had it right in 1927 and he remains right today. Those who say this development won’t change the park system are clearly mistaken.
Every so often an issue comes along which defies partisanship. This is one of them. I urge the people of New Britain and my colleagues on the Common Council, from both parties, to stand up for New Britain values, to protect our parks and to say no to the plan currently before us.