The Town of Cheshire should be proud of its natural beauty.
It has several historic farms that hark back to an age when agriculture was the driving economic and cultural force in the nation, as well as numerous open spaces that highlight the area’s diverse landscapes — from plush fields to mountain ridges.
Because of the efforts of both the Town and the Cheshire Land Trust, residents can explore wooded areas that have remained relatively untouched by human hands. These open space parcels can be enjoyed all year long, by hikers and nature-lovers of all skill levels.
Yet, we agree with many of the Town Councilors, including Chairman Rob Oris, who expressed reluctance in dedicating more taxpayer money at this time to the purchase of additional land. While Cheshire should always be willing to explore the option of acquiring open spaces, and should certainly support the Land Trust in its mission to do just that, there is no need to add to the town’s open-space ledger at the moment.
Not with the fate of the Chapman property still undecided.
Coming at the cost of $3 million, Cheshire dedicated significant resources to purchasing the property adjacent to Bartlem Park just a few years ago. According to proponents of the purchase, the opportunity was too great to pass up.
Yet, the future of the land remains up in the air. While there seems to be some consensus that the area will be used for recreational purposes — a combination of athletic fields and areas for entertainment — the Town has yet to decide exactly what they want for the Chapman property and when they want it.
At the very least, the Council and community leaders must determine that, first, before pursuing more land at a cost to Cheshire residents. It wouldn’t be appropriate to spend more dollars on new land when $3 million worth of it remains somewhat in limbo.
Local leaders must always set priorities, and in this case, it appears they have their priorities straight. Get the Chapman project up and running. Then, the Town can explore other options.