North Stonington voters will decide open space question after all

Recently there have been several residents publicly questioning the North Stonington Board of Selectmen’s unanimous decision to allocate funds towards Avalonia’s purchase of a 400-acre parcel located partly within the town of North Stonington’s borders. Bill Ricker, chairman of the Conservation Commission, submitted a guest commentary detailing why this decision was made, titled “Investment in North Stonington open space a wise and proper move.” Ricker detailed the reasoning behind this decision, which was a great win for North Stonington and our neighbors.

The Conservation Commission is an advisory board; this decision was made by the Board of Selectmen. As first selectman, I want to say we are incredibly thankful for their work on all projects in town. They are an active and important group.

Because this land was not purchased by the town and the monies were already approved for town acquisition each year in prior budgets, it was deemed unnecessary to send this approval to a town meeting. Furthermore, this transaction, different from previous acquisitions, lets the town have access to this land in perpetuity while relieving the town of having to maintain it, since Avalonia will be the owner. This was a winning situation for the town to help reach its goal of 21 percent open space.

We were told by legal counsel that our action moving this forward was legal and acceptable. However, this was an “out of the box” use of funds and I recognize that some people are questioning the process because it is different.

The town has a town meeting scheduled for the first week in May. I have spoken with Avalonia’s president and told him, given the concern from some residents, I will ask the Board of Selectmen to include the use of these funds in the upcoming town meeting. Avalonia understood and is happy to work with our town processes.

In short, your selectmen — Nita Kincaid, Bob Carlson and myself — continue to work hard for the town. We make decisions that we think are the best for the town, but inevitably we will not please everyone. Though we agree that this was the right decision and a good use of the town’s resources, we always respect the town processes and work to operate within them.

Mike Urgo is the first selectman of North Stonington.

 

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