Friday, July 31, 2009

Six Proposals for City-owned Open Space

A wide variety of ideas for developing 256 acres of open space in Maromas have been submitted to the Planning Department in response to their Request for Proposals (RFP). Three of these proposals are for the continuation of uses which have been ongoing for many years, while the others propose new uses for the land.

  1. Millane Nurseries proposes to continue farming on a small portion of Parcels 1 to 4. Millane has been raising Pines and Spruces on the land since the 1980s, first under an agreement with the state. They currently farm 34 acres under a 5 year lease from the City, with an option for the City to terminate the lease with 180 days notice. Millane proposes to extend this lease for another 5 years.
  2. The Middlesex Aero Modelers proposes to continue their use of Parcel 3 as a landing strip for model airplanes. They have been using this Parcel also since the 1980s, also under an agreement first with the state and then with the city.
  3. The Hills Farm, on Brooks Road, also proposes to continue farming on the parcels. They have been harvesting hay for over 35 years to feed to animals they keep on their own land.
  4. The Connecticut Forest and Park Association has put in a "placeholder" proposal, pending final approval by their Trails Committee. The CFPA proposes to build a trail on all 5 parcels which would connect to the Mattabessett trail, which passes through several adjoining properties, and is part of the recently designated New England National Scenic Trail.
  5. Artfarm, the non-profit theater group which every year produces Shakespeare in the Grove, proposes to use Parcel 5 to create a center for performing arts classes and small productions, as well as for agriculture. Artform proposes to build two barns, one to support community-based agriculture and the other to support the theater. Their big productions of outdoor theater would continue at Middlesex Community College, which is near to Parcel 5.
  6. Arawana Golf Course, LLC, proposes to develop a 9-hole golf course on portions of Parcels 1, 2, and a small amount of 3. Arawana Golf Course is a company created by Anthony Pioppi, a noted golf journalist living in Middletown. The proposal includes an extensive description of the course, which has been designed by golf course architect Brian Silva. The proposal emphasizes environmental issues in presenting the design and maintenance of the course.
The Middletown Eye will examine several of the proposals in more detail in the coming week. For previous coverage of the city-owned land in question, see the last of a 4-part series on public land in Maromas.

The Economic Development Committee, at their June meeting, anticipated that they would consider these proposals at their August meeting.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Arawana Golf Course would use parcels 1, 2, 3, and a part of 4. It will actually use most of 1 and 2, and a portion of 3. 4 would remain untouched.
Full disclosure: I am on the Board of Advisors for Artfarm. I also played the part of a proofreader and delivery person on portions of the CFPA proposal.


joseph getter said...

Some suggestions for your upcoming coverage of these proposals: I wonder to what extent these six proposals are compatible or not with one another; that is, can any of them co-exist with the others, including on the same parcel? Would City and State laws allow that?

Can the Eye also assess how these proposals address sustainability and land stewardship? I hope that the overall character of Maromas remains as a mostly natural area (and not to be filled with big box stores, housing, or industrial sites -- meaning, what we do now should not be a precursor to such development).

Maromas is an attraction that Middletown can promote for residents and visitors alike. To anyone who hasn't experienced Maromas, please go there and walk on some of the many amazing trails through the area. We have a beautiful, great place right in our town, and I think we must make use of it in ways that preserve it.

(My disclosure: I've worked as Art Farm's musical director, and I regularly hike the CFPA Blue Trail system.)

Concerned Citizen said...

It is a vote of confidence in the Eye that you ask to have these proposals assessed for how they address sustainability and land stewardship. However lets not forget that the Eye is an online news blog run by volunteer reporters, and I believe that it is the job of the City and its Department of Planning to assess such matters, compare them to the documented Plan of Conservation and Devlopment, and make sound decisions after these proposals make their way through the economic committee. Any comments or issues need to be raised through the proper channels in order to have any weight in the process. It is wonderful that we have the Eye to exchange information adn express opinions but it should not be confused with a real viable channel for effecting political change or influencing decisions.