DARIEN — On Monday night, the Board of Selectmen voted to approve the $100 million purchase of Great Island as well as the issuing of bonds for the purchase.
The vote came after the town’s selectmen heard from a number of Darien residents speak on why the property would be a valuable addition to the town, one stating specifically that having a space dedicated to enjoying nature has shown to treat symptoms of depression and help with mental health issues.
“I’m optimistic that the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and colleagues on the Representative Town Meeting will do the right thing and secure this treasure for our town,” Darien Representative Town Meeting member Frank Kemp said before the vote.
First Selectwoman Monica McNally explained that the town was currently completing its due diligence to evaluate the land and confirm that there are no outstanding impediments to its sale and use.
McNally also spoke briefly about the use of the island, and that it will be geared toward what residents want, but that it may take years to fully realize those plans.
Selectwoman Sarah Neumann raised concerns regarding the financial and economic aspect of the purchase, but also the unique opportunity presented by the purchase which she said would bring a lot more positives to the town.
Selectman Jon Zagrodzky addressed the concern of many residents raised during the prior public meeting on June 9. Many were afraid that the money spent on buying the island would take funds away from education and the schools in town.
“I’ve gotten comfortable that the answer to all these concerns is no. We’ve never had any sort of refusal to these capital investments,” Zagrodzky said while addressing the concern.
The next step in the approval process is a meeting of the Board of Finance on Wednesday, and a final vote on June 27 by Darien’s Representative Town Meeting.