Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Civic-minded MLCT

Journal Inquirer
July 21, 2006

Having spent my first 70 years in Manchester, I am very pleased that the Manchester Land Conservation Trust has purchased a mile of the former South Manchester Railroad, running between West Middle Turnpike and the North End. This abandoned roadbed will become a hiking and biking trail, open to all.

I am pleased for two reasons. First is the alarming growth of obesity and ill-health in the United States. Any visit to a local all-you-can-eat emporium will illustrate my obesity statement, and numerous studies of school-age youth document a steady gain in average weight over several decades. Medical researchers fear a sharp rise in diabetes in the near future. Exercise — healthy, safe, outdoor exercise — is one way to stave off these plagues. The MLCT is moving in a positive direction with this purchase.

My second reason has to do with what used to be urban sprawl, but now is clearly suburban sprawl. Whenever we blink, a new housing development has arisen. Open, public space is in shorter and shorter supply. As someone has said, "They ain't makin' no more land."

Connecticut does not have a fully enlightened policy of public land usage. Take a look at our coastline: How much of it is public? Very little. I applaud any reasonable acquisition of land for public usage so that we all may leave it to our children. In this way, too, MLCT is doing the right thing.

The next logical step for MLCT is to acquire the remaining portion of the old rail line, from West Middle Turnpike to Hartford Road.

My hat is off to MLCT President Malcolm Barlow and his organization as they move to meet this new challenge. Even in these times of rapacious corporations and NIMBY landowners, civic-mind-edness still exists.

Robert E. Richardson Jr.