Preserve Ethel Walker's Woods
September 19 2005
A report that the Keep the Woods citizens group intends to withdraw its
legal challenge to the Ethel Walker School's plans to build a large
luxury-home subdivision on its wooded campus in Simsbury is encouraging.
group's appeal of the town conservation commission's approval of a
campus wetlands map that is needed to proceed with the project created
unnecessary animosity and divisiveness. No one, not even the trustees
of the school, which has kept the land in pristine condition for 90
years, wants the development.
Unfortunately, the school must
seriously replenish its shrinking $10 million endowment to secure its
future, and the housing proposal offers one sure way to raise the
Another solution would be if the town could
purchase the development rights to the land for an amount that would
satisfy the school's long-term needs. A previous attempt to negotiate
such a sale yielded an offer of $6 million, which the school said
Members of Keep the Woods say they are
withdrawing the suit because they are optimistic that three-way talks
among the town, the school and the Trust for Public Land will yield a
new agreement for the purchase of the development rights.
Presumably, the selling price would be appreciably higher than $6
If the talks break down, however, there appear to be few obstacles to
the school's developing the land for housing.
450-acre parcel is properly zoned for residential use. Plans call for
construction of more than 120 houses on 165 acres of the property.
Homes would be built on 1- and 2-acre lots and sold for about $1
Ideally, the need for Ethel Walker to develop
and sell such a large piece of its beautiful property will be avoided
through the efforts of those trying to find an alternative that will
preserve the open space and keep the school solvent.
Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant