From the December 24, 2005 Hartford Courant.
School Shouldn't Develop Property
Ethel Walker School, a prestigious all-girls school, is planning to
develop hundreds of acres of pristine open space in Simsbury with 122
suburban castles. This is being done to correct shortages in the
school's endowment. For a private educational institution to attempt to
resolve a short-term cash-flow problem by massive and irreversible
development of greenfields is reprehensible.
Housing developments like this do not come down in Connecticut; they
usually multiply. The proposed development would entail not only 122
large-scale homes, but most likely more than 500 people, at least 300
automobiles and acres of compacted lawns and the accompanying chemical
treatments. The effect of this development on the fragile Stratton
Brook watershed, home to a state park and vibrant populations of native
brook trout (among numerous other species) would be devastating and
Recent studies show that human impact (lawns, pavement, homes and so
forth) of this size leads to extirpation of wild brook trout, the
state's only native trout and an emerging indicator of a steady
deterioration in the state's rivers and streams.
The school plans to develop the land over a period of several years to
capitalize on rising home prices; coldly treating the delicate
landscape like a financial annuity or asset. This brings to mind an
oft-repeated quotation of President Theodore Roosevelt: "The nation
behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must
turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value."
Natural assets such as the Stratton Brook watershed should be protected
and preserved for future students, town residents and wildlife alike,
and not manipulated and sold in a financial marketplace.
Schools should serve as models for their impressionable students,
demonstrating careful environmental stewardship at both a local and
global level. A school, whose board and alumni ranks includes the who's
who of corporate America, clearly has numerous other options to
increase its endowment. It should not take out its past fundraising
failures on the wild brook trout, white-tailed deer or the countless
other species that rely on this unique watershed for survival.
Eastern Water Project