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The View From 6 Commerce Road



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To the Editor:

None of the 80 Newtown residents who attended last week’s Economic Development Commission meeting (February 20) want this peaceful meadow to be carved up for development. They also object strongly to the town holding closed-door discussions with a Greenwich developer without public involvement.

There are many reasons why this 14-acre meadow should be preserved as open space not the least of which is its close proximity to the 36-acre Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary. Strategically located within the Pootatuck River Watershed, it offers rare grassland habitat for a whole ecosystem of insect pollinators, birds and native wildlife. While filtering groundwater to replenish our aquifer, its natural heritage is critical to the sanctuary’s healing mission of environmental education.

Consider also its location within a much larger property that for 300 years has dominated the very center of our town, namely the former agricultural land we call Fairfield Hills. Anchored by the Pootatuck River, these 200 acres were defined long ago by their boundary of dirt roads that would become Queen Street, Church Hill Road, and Mile Hill Road. Look at any local map today and you will recognize this footprint.

In his 2005 Tercentennial book A Mosaic of Newtown History, former town historian Dan Cruson tells of a Connecticut pioneer named Samuel Sherman who traveled inland from Stratford in 1667 to “buy tillable land in the wilderness.” Sherman stopped here to barter with the Native Americans for a farm owned by Cowanock of the Pootatuck tribe. In May of 1687, the colony officially deeded Sherman these 200 acres and subsequent court records show the acreage was passed down to his son, Samuel Sherman, Jr, and then in 1700, to Benjamin Sherman. Over the next two hundred years it was known as Sherman’s Square Mile, or Sherman’s Old Farm by generations of Newtown families that worked the land.

Fairfield Hills farmland continued to serve our community even during the period between 1928 and 1996 when it was used for a state mental hospital and provided hundreds of jobs for Newtown residents. Today it offers space for recreation and renewal as the lower agricultural fields are leased to local farmers and grazing pastures are used by the Governor’s Horse Guard. A 36-acre linear park along Deep Brook protects the Class A trout fishery, and Al’s Trail welcomes walkers who follow this beautifully cool stream shaded by trees planted by garden clubs and school children. The Newtown Animal Control Center and the dog park are two more public facilities that benefit our entire community.

In short, this grassy meadow is an integral part of a greater whole. It has a 300-year history of serving Newtown residents while protecting wildlife and replenishing the watershed. Any plan to put commercial or private residential housing there is just as unthinkable as building a shopping center in the Ram Pasture.

We must change its “light industry” designation to open space. Then rename the access road and call it Sherman Farms Way.

Dottie Evans


A letter from Dottie Evans.
Comments are open. Be civil.

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