Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Soundkeeper Website Says Stratford Should Vote Yes on Sale of Long Beach to the Feds

The big question facing Stratford voters in two weeks is this:

Shall the Town of Stratford enter into an agreement in the form of the September 2, 2008 Option Agreement with the Trust for Public Land to sell Long Beach West to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for a minimum of Ten Million ($10,000,000) Dollars with a full public access easement reserved for Stratford residents in perpetuity?

Soundkeeper Terry Backer says the right answer is "yes." Here's part of the reason:

Stratford’s Long Beach, together with Bridgeport’s Pleasure Beach, comprises a unique 2-mile long barrier beach that shelters the Great Meadows Marsh Unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. At 80 acres combined, Long Beach and Pleasure Beach represent 20% of Connecticut’s undeveloped barrier beaches and contain a rich set of sand dunes, tidal wetlands, and sand flats. The area – widely recognized as a haven for birds and wildlife – also provides invaluable access to Long Island Sound.

There's more here, at a new Long Beach West website the Soundkeeper has created. Click around the site and you'll find an op-ed tht Terry wrote in which his answer is, "Yes, if ..." but the conditions implicit in the "if" seem to have been met.

What other organizations are supporting this?

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Anonymous Emmett Pepper said...

The following have publicly supported the transfer and protection of Long Beach West to the Fish and Wildlife Service:
Audubon Connecticut, Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Connecticut Audubon Society, Connecticut Community Boating, Inc., Connecticut Post Editorial Page, The Conservation Campaign, Protect Your Environment
of Stratford, Save the Sound, Sierra Club - Connecticut Chapter, Soundkeeper, Stratford Chamber of Commerce, Stratford Conservation Commission, The Trust for Public Land

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Bryan said...

The public access agreements referenced in the Option Agreement are a bit nebulous. Terry Backer's web site provides the Option Agreement and "a" public access agreement. The Option Agreement references two public access agreements, one with the town of Stratford and one with the state of CT. I think the one on the web site is the state access agreement. It's seems broad enough to protect the interest of the general public. I expect that the town's access agreement is equally broad and doesn't interfere with the general public's access to the land. Anyone know any differently?

6:23 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I'm impressed with the excellent list of supporters. But as Bryan notes, will there be guaranteed public access? That's public money there, and a bunch of it. I would be concerned about any limitations, such as for only (or preferential to) the residents of Stratford. Free access means open to anyone, although a reasonable fee may be charged for access or maintenance.

I suppose I'm a little spoiled, since I live in Texas where the entire beach is open to the public, all 400-some miles of it. I don't think CT or NY has an "Open Beaches Act". That is all the more reason to ensure that access be made available to this important addition to the coastal public resources of the area. -sam

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Melissa Spear said...

According to the terms of the Option Agreement, a public access easement, largely in the form of that attached to the agreement, will be filed on the land records with the town as the holder of the easement. The agreement specifies "public" access - it is not restricted to just town residents. The Public Access Easement would be permanent and run with the land - no matter who actually owned the property, public access would still be guaranteed by the easement agreement. there is also the option of either filing a separate easement (substantially the same as the town's)naming the State of CT as the holder, or adding the state of CT to the Town easement (as a third party enforcer or co-holder for example). The exact role of the state would have to be worked out during the 5 year option period.

8:32 AM  

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