Public Access to Public Land


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To the Editor:

The Republican Party has a long history of protecting one of our nation’s most precious resources – the beauty of our natural environment. President Theodore Roosevelt, known as “The Conservation President”, established the United States Forest Service and during his administration preserved over 230 million acres of public land to be kept in its natural state and to be enjoyed by the public. President Johnson spearheaded the Clean Water Act during his administration and President Nixon followed up with the Clean Air Act during his tenure. Our party is also proud to have worked with our Democrat friends to keep America beautiful. Why do we live in Old Lyme? One of the top answers is because it is the most beautiful rural small town along the Connecticut coastline. We are second to none with a landscape bounded by the Long Island Sound, rivers, wooded hills and filled with a very biodiverse ecology. The question that needs to be asked is, “How do we protect this beauty and still enjoy it with all our senses?”

Recently, there have been several news stories about a parcel of town-owned property located at 36-1 Buttonball Road. It was deeded to the town with a restriction that it shall be used by the public for waterfront access. A representative from CT DEEP indicated that if the town went forward with that plan and an environmental impact study were to be done, then it would be very probable that DEEP would permit some minimal development to access the water based on an on-site observation. There would be room to park a vehicle and then access the water by way of a minimally impacting boardwalk to launch a kayak or to just enjoy the salt marsh ecology.

We support and encourage the town to pursue the wishes of this property’s donor to allow the public to have waterfront access. Furthermore, we stress the importance of responsible stewardship for these generous gifts. Proper stewardship will demonstrate that we value and will protect a donor’s wishes; and, it will encourage future donors to gift parcels of land for the public benefit knowing that their gift’s purpose will be honored.

We do understand that this parcel falls within jurisdictional aspects of several town authorities and so we encourage a post haste resolution of this jurisdictional issue so that the town may expeditiously move forward with a DEEP application for an environmental impact study.

It has been well over a century since President Theodore Roosevelt made it a national vision to protect and enjoy nature. Let’s continue to keep this vision alive in Old Lyme!

Robert A. Nixon, Chairman
Old Lyme Republican Town Committee