Rep. O’Brien: “We need a better approach to economic development than selling off city park land.”

Concerns raised by 24th State Rep. Timothy O’Brien over the proposed location of a COSTCO store in city parks has spawned increasing opposition to the Hartford Road site on protected park land and Stanley Golf Course.

In a May 21st post on his website prior to preliminary approvals by city planning and the Council zoning committee Rep. O’Brien called for protecting scarce open space and a different approach to economic development:

People in New Britain have long been justifiably concerned about losing city parkland to development of any kind. This land has been wisely set-aside to improve the quality of life of all of the people of our great city.

Rep. Tim O'Brien

Public parks exist for the betterment of all of the people from all income groups, especially the middle class and people of more modest means. Not everyone can afford a large personal estate or admission to a country club, but everyone can avail themselves of their own community’s public parks.
The recent proposal to build a Costco in what is now Stanley Golf Course and then displace wooded parkland to replace the lost golf holes would be a very big loss of our city’s public open space. Once we lose our city parkland to a big-box store, it is lost permanently as open space and cannot be restored – ever. If we decide that it is a mistake to have sold it off, or if the store built there closes down after a few years and becomes vacant, we can still never restore the lost parkland.

It is true that our city’s people need jobs, and that the additional tax revenue from development would help support public services. We have many residents in our city who are out of work and our city economy and tax base could use the boost. That is why the people of our city would truly welcome a Costco at any of the commercial locations in our community that are vacant and wanting for development.

But, for a community like ours, that has borne the brunt of decades of middle-class job losses from “free trade” and outsourcing, and taken more harm from the current recession that was Wall Street’s fault rather than our own, asking our city’s people to sell-off their cherished park land in exchange for jobs is like throwing salt in a wound. Why, it is legitimately asked, is it that people who are without are so often asked to make their lives more miserable – in this case, by losing the open space their families can presently enjoy, by right, as New Britain residents – as a condition of being able to provide for their families?

It seems to me that we need a better approach to economic development than selling off the city parkland that was wisely set aside generations ago for the benefit of all of our city’s people. We need economic development that involves thinking, planning and acting proactively to create industry, commerce and jobs for the future rather than one that is predicated on waiting for whatever comes our way and then persuading our city’s people to bear the cost of whatever it involves.

Our city should work with Costco to find another location in our community to locate, because selling off our city’s parks, as is presently proposed, is just not a good idea. And, while we are at it, we should start a stronger plan for economic development and job creation than one where selling our parkland like this is seriously considered by our City Hall.

About nbpoliticus

NB Politicus is a weblog featuring news and commentary on politics, government and community life in New Britain, CT. John McNamara - Editor and Writer
This entry was posted in Economic Development, Environment, Tim O'Brien. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rep. O’Brien: “We need a better approach to economic development than selling off city park land.”

  1. Bob Pleines says:

    Excelent statement Mr. O’Brien. My sentiments exactly. Especially the part about people with the least being asked to give up the most. That hits home. I have not worked full time in over 3 years after having to leave my job for medical reasons. My wife and I are struggling every month just to pay the mortgage, let alone having anything to put into maintenance of the property, And forget being able to take a vacation. But yesterday I called Ken Malinowski’s office to speak to him, and guess where he was? Out playing golf! And most likely on the very golf course he’s so determined to break up. Now here’s a highly paid city official, who’s salary comes from the taxpayers, on a buisness day, out playing golf. I had legitimate questions that need to be answered but I couldn’t talk to him because he’s taking leisure time on taxpayers money. That doesn’t seem right.
    This Costco deal will only help certain people who are well off, by strengthening their political status and probably their pocketbook (Mr. Mayor) while leaving those with the least in our city with even less.
    To many, including my family, our city parks have a great deal to do with our quality of life, We have a grandson who turns 3 next month, and he’s just starting to become aware of the wildlife and nature when we walk him in the park. He’s facinated by the ducks and geese in the pond, and the squirrel’s and birds in the trees, and even the insects flying around his head. How am I going to explain to him that a huge corporation cares more about making money than the happiness and facinations of a little boy, when even I don’t understand it.
    Your position provides a great deal of public visability, and your opinions are taken seriously. Would you please consider coming to the council meeting on the 22nd to speak out. Your presense alone would be a powerful statement for the preservation of our parks.
    Keep up the good work, and good luck with your mayoral run, you have our support.

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