Land Swap Opponents React

On Tuesday, the highly debated Haddam land swap came to an end after more than a year of controversy.


Minutes after the news hit last night that the Haddam land swap deal was officially dead, Melissa Schlag Proulx, one of the leading opponents of the deal, was already celebrating with friends and supporters.

A little while later she sent out a formal statement to her larger group of backers, which includes residents in Haddam and East Haddam, as well as environmental groups across the state, trumpeting the deal's demise.

“It is the culmination of so many efforts that led us to this result,” she said in that statement. “Preservation, perseverance and principle were always the three components of the fight to keep our land. Haddam's future is now back in the hands of Haddam residents where it belongs, not just a single developer or legislator.”

The proposal to swap 17.4 acres of state land near the Connecticut River in Tylerville for 87 acres in Higganum, and to allow private development on the state land, became a highly charged topic last year that swept through Haddam, the state and even got international press.

But the deal died yesterday when lawyers for the developers notified the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that they “will not be pursuing the transaction” due to a large discrepancy in the market values of the properties involved.

Opponents of the land deal weighed in today on their victory, saying they remain concerned about what the future may hold for the river view property in Tylerville.

“While I applaud the short term outcome, I fear long term damage has been done to the State's reputation as stewards of land deeded for open space,”  said Pete Govert, VP of the East Haddam Land Trust and former East Haddam Selectman.

Sharon Botelle, who has been a driving force behind stop the swap efforts said, "I am still in shock. I have been working on this since 2009 - I think we should all remember what standing up and speaking the truth can accomplish. And my favorite quote 'Never, never, never give up' (Winston Churchill). We are hoping that we can legislation passed that will prevent this from happening again." 

The original proposal would have traded the state-owned 17.4 acres of land in Tylerville to Riverhouse Properties in exchange for 87 acres of forest land that abut the Cockaponset State Forest in Higganum. The developers, who own the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, wanted the 17.4 acres for retail development that would complement their banquet facility.

Wendy Vincent April 04, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Here is a comment from the East Haddam-Haddam Facebook page: "Let's not forget the politicians who allowed this to happen in the 1st place, vote them out!"- Amy Berchulski Avery
Brad Parker April 04, 2012 at 07:39 PM
This is great news. Melissa and her group worked real hard and we all should be very thankfull of their efforts. This was a battle from the beginning especially with many of the local town leaders from the area supporting it. Once again; THANK YOU MELISSA AND ALL WHO WORKED WITH YOU. Brad Parker
kevin dalton April 05, 2012 at 11:30 AM
If the value of the properties were equal....it did appear that the politicians were willing to have the deal go through despite the objections of the local populace. do we not have any control over our own destiny...appears not...does voting 'them' out appear to be a viable solution.....we shouldn't have to...current elected officials should do the bidding of the electorate. Congrats to all for a good great fight. STAY VIGILANT AND "NEVER GIVE UP"
Jennifer Felciano April 07, 2012 at 12:28 PM
GOOD JOB!!!! Thank YOU! Now time to vote some people out of office. Job Well Done.


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