The Town of Groton is running headlong, lockstep with Respler Homes to develop a speculative 931-unit high-end playland apartment complex for young professionals at the stunning Mystic Education Center property. This largest project in town history is vexed with so many unproven assumptions and problems, yet the town does not even think our citizens have a right to endorse or reject it by means of a referendum.
Among many other issues, this huge private venture involves extensive infrastructure additions, road building, landscape destruction, while contributing to global warming, with over 2,000 people and more cars posing traffic concerns to all of Mystic.
In short, this is an attack on Mystic.
It changes the whole picture. Think of the traffic mess you will face. Affording these luxury apartments will require two incomes. Who pays for road improvements and expanded sewage capacity?
This pandemic has taught us the best relief from quarantine comes from just being outside enjoying nature. We see people walking and riding bikes everywhere. A path from the Mystic River boat launch passes up through woodlands and open fields to old stately buildings. Couldn’t the land be better used to enrich our lives?
Appallingly, the town does not even have a tangible long-term vision for our own use of it as a truly spectacular town park, a script that has a far higher dollar value over time than the proposed private plan. I present such a park proposal here.
To visualize it, you must capture the exciting features of three outstanding nearby parks. Information about them is well organized and visually displayed in detail in their websites: real site plans, gardens, buildings, photographs, funding, events, and beautiful features. Please visit the sites in person after viewing the websites and take note of what you see.
Harkness Park and Eolia. This park provides Waterford with a fully enjoyable experience. See Harkness.org/visit-the-park and portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Parks/Harkness-Memorial-State-Park.
Old Westbury Gardens and Westbury House. This exquisite park on Long Island contains everything — lovely buildings, fields, woods, water features, extensive gardens, sweeping vistas, wedding venues, walled garden, fountains, lunch. See Oldwestburygardens.org.
For a finished town proposal, these elements would be carefully combined. All have signature buildings and water features that coordinate with each park. While you still can, visit the Mystic Education Center, drive all around it, and picture what a spectacular asset Groton could have for its entire people. I am certain you will join me in asking the town to wake up.
Under my alternative proposal, building use would be restricted to low-impact activities such as assisted living. Many people in the town would be excited to participate and solve any issues. It doesn’t have to be all done at once.
If you agree this new vision is worth pursing, I ask for your petition support for two items:
1. The Town shall develop a proposal to recover the entire Mystic Education Center property for use as a town park, based on the Wilcox, Harkness and Old Westbury park examples, with participation by town citizens.
2. The Town shall hold a town-wide referendum to determine the will of its citizens for any commercial proposal or a special town park.
It is high time for the town to push the pause button and diligently pursue public use of the property. Please support this petition. You and the town deserve better. Sign the petition at ipetitions.com/petition/Park-at-Mystic-Oral-School.
Jeffrey A. Richards is a retired chemist who worked 30 years at Pfizer. He lives on Clift Street in the Mystic Historic District.