Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

An Open Letter - Test the Land

At the June 18 meeting of the P&Z Commission, a 4-to-3 vote was rendered by the commission against the town hiring an independent expert to perform chemical and biological evaluation on the Partrick Wetlands/Poplar Plains tract. On the public record of that meeting is a remark by one of the commissioners that the town didn't need another study, and the suggestion to perform said study was merely a delaying tactic (!).

It was I who first raised this suggestion at the May 22 P&Z meeting. The following is taken from the presentation I made, the full text of which is available at and is part of the public record...

.. I am a member of the Partrick Wetlands Association, but, for almost 37 years, I have practiced internal medicine and cardiology, and I hope that my professional training and experience allows me a chance at objectivity here. My concerns are confined to the health of current and future Westport residents, not only in regard to the Partrick Wetlands, but also how P&Z decisions to be rendered in that regard would impact any remaining undeveloped tracts in Westport. I say this as an officer of the state's health commission in much the same way a practicing attorney acts as an officer of the court. I propose that a licensed, eminently qualified firm totally without any ties to ARS or to the Partrick Wetlands Association, but agreeable to both be hired, by the town, to perform the necessary toxicological and microbiological tests on both the water and the soil on the site. For those who might ask: Why another study of the land and water, and why an independent firm? Hasn't testimony already gone on record before the town commissions dealing with this dispute? After all, arsenic not to mention lead and mercury has already been found in previous tests on the tract. Isn't that all we need to know? The answer is "no." In much the same way that I, as a physician, should welcome an independent opinion often called a second opinion requested by a patient whose case is difficult, so must you [The P&Z Commission] understand that from the health standpoint, you have a client the town which presents a difficult case, and, it follows that you should welcome a second opinion, and just as a patient pays for a second opinion, so must the town... the town is entrusted by its citizens to be ultimately responsible for the public welfare. P&Z, and other town commissions that have addressed the dispute before us, are deliberative, decision making bodies of the town ... As medical students are taught to do, first, do no harm.

The above excerpts give the lie to the "delaying tactic" remark, a characterization that is an outrageous commentary on the professional ethics of not only myself, but of my colleague, Minas Lialios, a pediatrician who lives and practices in Norwalk. But, beyond that, if the recommendation of Diane Lauricella, head of the Fairfield County Chapter of the Sierra Club, and who testified before you June 12, is implemented, an impartial investigation could be completed in a small fraction of the time already spent on this contentious dispute between ARS partners and the Partrick Wetlands Preservation group.

I ask that the P&Z Commission revisit this issue by voting to void your June 18 decision, reconsider the issue without preconceptions or prejudices and vote on the merits of our arguments. I feel confident that if you take these steps, you will reverse your earlier decision.

Jonathan G. Greenwald, M.D.