Letter: Branchville TOD no longer viable

To the Editor:

The proposed high-density affordable housing in Branchville is being justified as Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). Housing the economically disadvantaged close to dependable and affordable train service should facilitate travel to and from work and other activities, including on weekends.

But according to CT DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker, as reported in the Feb. 22, 2018, Ridgefield Press, those dependable and affordable trains will soon become much scarcer, more expensive, and, on weekends, non-existent.

According to Britt Liotta of the Norwalk Transit Authority, “those cuts would unfairly impact the elderly and limited income riders,” exactly those persons for whom the high density affordable housing in Branchville is being proposed.

More disturbing is Redeker’s comment that the “philosophy” would involve “leaving the transit systems managed by municipalities to fend for themselves.” Thank you, Connecticut, for mismanaging your finances and then trying to pass the buck to Ridgefield.

Think carefully, Ridgefield, before you commit large sums of your own citizens’ tax dollars to planning for high density affordable housing in Branchville. Think carefully before you proceed with an investment counting on a big backer who has just walked away from the table.

Instead of reliable train service seven days a week, morning through evening, we’re now being offered, perhaps, a haphazard fleet of noisy, diesel-belching buses.

Webster defines ghetto as “… a quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal or economic pressure.” Re-think Branchville density and come up with a better plan to integrate and welcome those who need affordable housing within the greater Ridgefield community. They deserve nothing less.

Absent reliable, affordable train service, a Branchville TOD is no longer a viable concept.

Michael J. Autuori

Florida Hill Road, Feb. 25