Town Will Be Able To Lease Route 7 Land For Ballfield

By: The Ridgefield Press, October 6, 2009

State Rep. John H. Frey said Tuesday that a provision permitting the Town of Ridgefield to lease property for recreational purposes from the state for the next ten years at 424 Ethan Allen Highway will go forward after gaining final approval last week in a state conveyance bill.

The town has talked of putting a ball field on the land, situated on the site of the old Walpole Woodworkers at the Route 7 intersection with Simpaug Turnpike.

Governor Rell has approved the language and has indicated she will sign it into law.

“I am pleased that, despite a long, drawn-out, and confusing budget process, Ridgefielders did not lose out on the recreational benefits this parcel of land will provide to our community,” said Rep. Frey.

“I want to thank Legislative Leaders on both sides of the aisle for fixing the problematic portions of the Land Conveyance legislation to ensure that truly worthy projects such as this are allowed to move forward with ease.”

On the last day of the 2009 regular legislative session a bill on State Land Conveyance had a section in it permitting the Town of Ridgefield to lease property for recreational purposes from the state for the next ten years, but it was later vetoed by the governor due to other provisions in the legislation that had state budgetary implications.

“There were other costly sections in the land conveyance bill that had nothing to do with the Ethan Allen Highway parcel that transferred land to private entities and a sale of assets would have to occur which under our current state budget climate should only be done with in the context of a state budget agreement,” Rep. Frey added.

Rep. Frey said, “I have been working several years on the land lease. I had the state remove the buildings and do all necessary environmental cleanups. The Ridgefield Parks and Recreation has studied the property and come to the conclusion that it is the right size and configuration for a ball field. It is anticipated that private funds would be solicited to pay for the fields construction.”

‘An Act Concerning the Conveyance of Certain Parcels of State Land’, requires the Department Environmental Protection (DEP), not later than 120 days from passage to lease to the town of Ridgefield, for $1 per year and a term of ten years (renewable) , a parcel of land located in the town of Ridgefield.

Rep. Frey negotiated this language directly with the Governor’s office.

The parcel, purchased by the state years ago for flood control involving the Norwalk River, has approximately 2.146 acres and is identified as 424 Ethan Allen Highway. The lease will be subject to the approval of the State Properties Review Board.

Under the agreement, the town of Ridgefield shall use said parcel of land for recreational purposes. If the town of Ridgefield does not use said parcel for said purposes; or leases all or any portion of said parcel, the lease shall terminate and the parcel shall revert to the state of Connecticut. The Department of Environmental Protection shall provide the town of Ridgefield with not less than a two-year notice, within such ten-year period, prior to any change in the terms of such lease.

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