Editorial: Ridgefield should embrace social change, but preserve environment
The “Desegregate Connecticut” movement has roused opposition for the same reason it’s stirred interest. They’re onto something.
Progress toward racial desegregation — which most citizens of good will would endorse — requires economic desegregation. That’s something some folks are a little less comfortable with — it’s not racial minorities most suburbanites are uneasy about, it’s poor people.
Similarly, it’s not affordable housing that Ridgefielders oppose — it’s high density development, replacing their lovely woods with buildings and pavement.
The challenges are all related.
Racial desegregation follows economic desegregation and that requires affordable housing which needs higher density projects.
Can the town accommodate more people, of a wider income range, without losing its green and woodsy look?
Difficult, yes. But not beyond the town’s powers, with thoughtful planning. Pockets of higher density need to be carefully mixed into a town that is largely two-acre and three-acre lots. To some extent, the town has long been doing this, with areas like the village and Branchville. It makes sense to build on that. The village already has sidewalks and, most importantly, water and sewer service. Similar amenities are needed in Branchville, and are in varied stages of the planning process, with sidewalks coming in the next few years and sewer service discussed at the concept level but not planned in any detail.
This is not a bad future. Economic and racial desegregation can benefit people on both sides of the divides that currently exist. Ridgefielders should accept and embrace the need for a more integrated future, then take the care to guide it in ways that will accommodate social change while preserving the town’s treasured environmental, historic and aesthetic assets.