A Casual Survey By Mary Wilson
To the Editor:
Several weekends ago, Holly Kocet and I spent four hours on the walking trail at the High Meadow to speak to people who frequently use the trail system there. We asked people if they knew about the plans for a memorial to be located here and if so inclined, would they sign a petition asking that the memorial not be developed at the High Meadow.
Responders fell into two categories: 1) those who had not heard about such plans and needed more information or time, and 2) those who were opposed to the development of a memorial at the High Meadow. By far, the larger of these two groups was the second one.
Reasons they gave for their opposition were varied. Some said that they use the trail system often for recreation and enjoyment of the scenery, and strongly felt that any reminder of the events of 12/14 would be inappropriate and would be in conflict with the reasons that they come to the High Meadow - for recreation, for peaceful enjoyment of nature, and for getting away from daily stress. Some said that they come to the High Meadow with their children and did not want their children to be subjected to visual stimulants of something that could make them feel uneasy or even fearful. Some said that designated open space should be open space, not used for anything other than passive recreation.
Not one person said that they were in favor of having a memorial at the High Meadow.
While this casual survey is far from comprehensive, it did reveal the extent of support for open space and the High Meadow in particular. It seems that people who use this trail system do so with the expectation that a truly beautiful parcel of open space will be there for them to use and enjoy without being subjected to a painful reminder of the past.
Not that we should ever forget what happened on 12/14/2012, but everyone heals in their own unique way. Some will need a specific site such as a memorial to attain some healing. Others will find solace in other ways. But to develop a memorial in a location where some would find their own pathways to peace, seems to be favoring one group over another.
We need to accommodate all kinds of healing, but going forward with a controversial plan is not what this town needs. Why would we want to proceed with a plan for a memorial, which is supposed to be a source of comfort, when many others will find it to be a source of distress?
I sincerely hope that the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission will find a way to develop a plan which most of Newtown's citizens can support. Development at the High Meadow does not seem to fit the bill.
12 Whippoorwill Hill Road, Newtown May 4, 2016