Letter: Reply to Defense of Roger Tory Peterson Center

in Letters

To the Editor:

RE “Roger Tory Peterson Center Will Enhance Not Blemish Old Lyme” (Letters, August 1)

Sydney Williams’ letter in support of the Audubon Society’s choice of Ferry Road for its new headquarters requires some clarification.

First, no one doubts the importance and good works of the Connecticut Audubon. It is the choice of its new location that is at issue. The omission of key elements for the planned uses of this new facility needs to be corrected. The following are the additional facts, per the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center website, and as presented to our neighborhood at the current Halls Road location during a meeting on June 27, that are missing from the Williams’ letter.

The letter states:

“As for the lectures, they will continue to be held in venues such as the Old Lyme Town Hall, Essex Meadows and the Lyme Art Association.”

“The new building will contain offices and storage space for prints, papers and research documents. As well, there should be space for a couple of scientists and a few kayaks.”

“In all likelihood, the education building at DEEP, with its abundant parking, will be available and, hopefully, a path will be built from DEEP property, through the town-owned land and past Shippee Pond, to the RTPEC center, a path open to all who want to commune with nature.”

1. The website lists 6 different programs to be held at the current Halls Road location in the month of August alone, including 3 in the evening and 2 on weekends.

2. A conference room large enough for groups of 40 is planned for the Ferry Road location.

3. There will be only 6-10 parking spaces, including handicapped.

4. The very admission that additional parking is required at the DEEP proves that the center is being built for large gatherings.

5. The assumption that the DEEP will allow daily and off-hour parking, and that the Open Space Committee will allow a path to be cleared, and maintained, through this pristine nature preserve is perhaps overly wishful thinking.

6. The distance to DEEP parking from the proposed site is approximately ¼ mile as the crow flies, which would be a 10 minute walk through the nature preserve on a lighted path. An evening stroll both ways in the summer would be 20 minutes of being eaten alive by mosquitoes; 20 minutes in the winter would be braving bitter cold and icy walkways. Besides the intrusion on the human inhabitants of this peaceful neighborhood, the normal life cycle of the wildlife would be disrupted by large groups constantly trooping back and forth through their habitat. This is not the mission of Open Space.

Even a young child learns that a round peg cannot be forced into a square hole. While the mission of the Roger Tory Peterson Center/CT Audubon is certainly laudable, the choice for their new Center is ill conceived and, frankly, inconsiderate. Frequent gatherings, many in the evening and on weekends, of up to 40 people would be an unacceptable intrusion on the Ferry Road/Sandpiper Point neighborhood. Any increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic at that poorly chosen location is an invitation to serious accidents. The special permit required of a commercial enterprise, operating as a not-for-profit in a residentially zoned neighborhood, should only be granted with strict and enforceable limitations on its usage so as to limit its impact on the neighborhood, the nature preserve, and residential property values.

Gary Novick,
Old Lyme, CT

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