Letter: Winter Club would be an environmental disaster
To the Editor:
My wife and I moved to Ridgefield in 2015 to be near our grandchildren and because of its charming nature and little town feeling. We looked at over 50 homes in the area and chose our current location, 280 Peaceable Street, because of the proximity to town and the three-acre residential zoning. As an avid gardener, my wife was excited about the small nursery located just down the street. Prior to our closing, we heard rumors that the nursery property was for sale and as a former resident of Houston, Texas (where there is no zoning), I reviewed the local zoning ordinances and was confident that no other uses except residential would be allowed if it changed ownership. We purchased the property in May of 2015 and set off on a 12-month property improvement project to create a place where our entire family could spend quality time.
We were recently informed about a proposal to build an outdoor hockey rink and private club on the six-acre nursery property (340 Peaceable). There are many reasons why I am opposed to this project including traffic, noise and light pollution and the negative impact on property values.
However, my primary concern is the effect of this type of development on our water supply and the surrounding wetlands. Our neighborhood is not supplied by town water and sewer. We are dependent on wells for water and septic systems for sewage. The proposed hockey club is expected to have 275 member families and will provide full dining and locker facilities.The water requirements for a club of this size could exceed 10 million gallons per year according to the Guide for Non-Residential Water Usage. This translates into an equal amount of sewage which must be disposed of in septic fields constructed on the six-acre property. Maintenance of the hockey rink can require an additional 500,000 gallons of water per year.
These two components alone are 70 times the average yearly household water usage.
Additionally, the property has been a commercial nursery for over 100 years and for many of those years has used toxic chemicals to care for its plants. No one can predict the impact these chemicals will have on our neighborhood once the ground is disturbed for construction. Given the proposed 120-plus space parking lot and the 15,000 pounds of ice scrapings per day required to keep the rink smooth, there will likely be significant runoff of these pollutants into our water supply, the surrounding wetlands and the adjacent Peaceable Refuge.
I understand that the proposed owners will have experts who will swear that they have remedies for all of these issues but why subject the local residents to any chance of an environmental disaster that cannot be reversed.