Protect the Partrick Wetlands
and our Community

Jaeger Land Sale Proposed
Partrick Wetlands should be bought
Printed in the Westport News

Republican Selectman John Izzo, who frequently pushes for fiscal prudence in town government, announced yesterday that he wants Westport to sell the Jaeger property.

With the money, Izzo would then purchase the former F.D. Rich site where a 22-unit housing project has been proposed.

"I was intrigued by the idea," said First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell when asked yesterday if she would support Izzo.

But she sees problems with his proposal. "John and I actually discussed this in the past," she said. "I have to respectfully disagree with him. John fails to remember the previous plan to subdivide the Jaeger for affordable housing. "

However, under the Izzo plan, the property near the Long Lots School would be used for four or five houses.

His idea for the land sale was inspired by the continuing debate over parking at the school and the rising cost estimates. On July 2, the Board of Finance unanimously approved appropriations that allow the parking lot project to move forward.

Specifically, a $185,900 appropriation was granted which will allow for designs, constructions plans and specifications for a new parking lot and reconstruction of an existing lot.

The Board of Finance also OK'd $132,000 for the remediation of the site, which includes removal of the greenhouse near the school site, contaminated soil and a boiler.

In a statement, Izzo said: "Normally I don't advocate selling town-owned land. What I am about to propose is that we not only sell the Jaeger property but that we acquire the Partrick wetlands, preventing the building of 22 homes and protecting the entire 55-acre trust.

"We would at the same time build the badly needed parking lot at Long Lots so that parents and their children do not jeopardize their safety by parking on a public roadway."

Izzo said another reason he wants to act is because the parking lot now being planned on the Jaeger property carries an obligation of approximately $10,000,000 dollars.

Asked how he arrived at that number, Izzo said: "We factor in the following. The cost of land is $4.2 million and the cost of parking lot is $2 million for a total of $6.2 million. That's $494,000 cost per year over 20 years. For a total of $9,880,000."

The selectman points out that he hasn't factored in inflation. His logic and math puts the additional 100 parking spaces at $98,880 per space. If the lot is 195 total spaces, it would be $50,660 per spot.

"My alternative proposal is to build a much smaller parking lot on land we (the town) already owns behind the school for 75 to 80 cars as opposed to larger lots of size for 195 cars. This smaller lot would accommodate the entire Long Lots staff of administrators and teachers.

The existing front (parking) lot with perhaps some modifications would be for parents and visitors only, according to Izzo. "Since we already own eight acres behind the school, I believe it rather obvious we can save anywhere from $7 to $8 million or perhaps more," the selectman continued.

"Bear in mind since we own the Jaeger property we can zone it and restrict it to single family dwellings to at most four or five homes. with the new resources available to us and without increasing out town debt obligations. I believe we can acquire the Partrick Wetlands and foremost protect the children and parents of Long Lots."

Russ Blair, chairman of the Long Lots Elementary School Parking Lot Subcommittee, disagreed with Izzo, according to press reports. He pointed out that the Planning and Zoning Commission required 3.5 parking spaces per teaching station at schools. If this number is followed, it casts a cloud over Izzo's parking capacity forecast.