Leave west side alone already

To the editor:

When it comes to things that are undesirable, unattractive, or downright dangerous, Greenwich seems to be of one voice -- "put it in the west end of town."

From the town dump (okay, it has to be somewhere), to two schools that were actually dangerous environments for children, to a proposal to crowd more housing into the only open green space, Byram, Chickahominy, Pemberwick and Glenville have suffered years of insults at the hands of the very people who are supposed to understand town planning. Now, the same town planners are, once again, going to "put it in the west end."

The agenda for this week's Planning and Zoning meeting contained a proposal for the erection of an 80-foot-high cell tower on a tiny piece of property in Byram, in a neighborhood teaming with young children -- and within easy walking distance of a nursery school.

I say, "Enough." The evidence on the dangers of cell tower emissions is sufficiently sound for anyone with half a brain to question putting one in a heavily populated area. How many children live on or near the proposed site? The middle-aged town planners and officials probably won't be around to see the increased cancer rates -- and heartbreak -- that they will visit on these children and their families.

How about considering the Babcock property or a corner of Tod's Point? Environmentally unsound? Perhaps. What about Land Trust acreage in the backcountry? The Land Trust was willing to make a deal with the Brunswick School, why couldn't it offer some open, high, "unbuildable" ground in the backcountry in return for some equally sized piece of town land?

In the 40 years I have been a resident of Greenwich, I have watched study after study being funded, being conducted and being abandoned. Houses whose very size endangers our town's water table have been approved. Quiet deals have been made. It is said that with the right attorney you can build anything, anywhere in our town. This time, the stakes are too high to ignore. Let's get the right attorney this time -- and keep our children safe.

Judy Crystal

Greenwich

Tower opposition is resolute

To the editor:

A Feb. 19 article ("Cos Cob parents rail against cell towers") implied that all opposition to cell towers is local and based on potential adverse health effects on occupants of neighboring homes and schools.

In the case of the Montgomery Pinetum Park site, however, opposition is town-wide. Resolutions opposing a tower at the Pinetum have been adopted by the RTM Land Use Committee, the RTM Parks & Recreation Committee, the Garden Education Center, the Greenwich Tree Conservancy, and the Conservation Commission.

Reasons given for opposing the Pinetum site are many. The RTM Land Use Committee resolution (adopted Dec. 3 by a vote of 9-0-3) says the Pinetum is important open space because of its large size (91 acres), because it is part of a greenbelt that includes other large open spaces and because it may contain vernal pools and other wetlands that play critical roles for wildlife.

A 1965 proposal to construct a fire training tower on this site was withdrawn after Colonel Montgomery's widow threatened to sue the town for violating the intent of his 1953 gift. Using donated land for purposes not intended sends a chilling message to other potential land donors in town.

The Town's Plan of Conservation & Development calls for protecting and enhancing "water and land natural resources, pervious surfaces, open space, parklands, recreational facilities and areas in an environmentally sensitive manner."

The Conservation Commission's resolution of Jan. 7 says cell towers create visual pollution and impact the functional value of open space. It points out that technology may render the towers obsolete, but the damage would already be done to the land, and suggests the town should pursue alternatives being used in other communities.

Addition information can be found at ThePinetum.org.

Peter E. Berg

Greenwich

The writer is chair of the RTM Land Use Committee.

Revealing health care meeting

To the editor:

President Obama's Feb. 25 health care meeting with congressional members was refreshing to see, and at long last vividly clarified some of the differences between the parties.

As Obama repeatedly tried to guide the conversation toward constructive solutions to contentious issues, it became increasingly clear the GOP came to the meeting with one united mantra -- deny, delay, and ultimately defeat.

Americans are currently experiencing one of the worst economic downturns since the 1929 Depression. Ask yourself truthfully how remote it is that you or one of your family, through no fault of your own, could wind up without employer-provided health insurance in the future. What if you lose your job? What if your company decides not to provide health insurance? (It's not obligatory, if things get really bad, you know.) What if your employer goes bankrupt or moves his business? What if you have to become self-employed? What if you just can't afford any insurance because of constant premium increases?

The president's meeting revealed basic fault lines. The GOP is just not interested in covering all Americans. Consequently, the GOP is just not interested in seeking workable solutions. Rather, they are more concerned with just serving themselves and their lobbyists.

Voters, just remember this notable meeting when you next go to the polls. And remember the attendant GOP mantra -- deny, delay, and defeat.

Ric Wolf

Greenwich

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