James Ventre, is concerned that a bill intended to force the state to improve Sunrise State Park in Moodus could be opening the door to another land swap situation, similar to the one that proved so controversial in Haddam recently.
In a letter last week to the General Assembly's Environment Committee, Ventres said the wording of the bill leaves open the question of whether the state might sell or swap the 143-acre parcel.
"This looks like the Haddam Land Swap all over again and one would think we learned from that fiasco."
Specifically, Ventres said the bill refers to the property as the and not as a state park, which it is. He said the bill also references a report the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection should write on the property and that the report should include "any plan that the department has for the use or the sale of such property.”
"This property was purchased with funds from the Recreational and Natural Heritage Fund, the Land and Water Conservation Funds from the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the George Dudley Seymour Trust. All programs set up to preserve and conserve land for the public and not to be sold," Ventres said in written testimony on the bill. Most state open space purchases are made with these or similar funds that are designated to set aside the property for the preservation and conservation of lands for future outdoor recreational use, wildlife and fishery habitat protection, watershed protection, and historic or cultural preservation and not to be sold at some future date."
The state's environment committee last week held a public hearing on a bill filed by that seeks to force the state to improve the former resort. The buildings on the site have fallen into disrepair and have been extensively vandalized since the state bought the property in 2008.
but the plan, which would have allowed a Tylerville banquet hall facility to expand, was vehemently opposed by residents in that town and beyond. The controversy only ended after the owners of the 17 acres abruptly withdrew their request.