The Story of a Magic Garden

By Andrea Byrne

There is such a place, you know, And it”s here in Stratford, on Elm Street.  Enter the grounds of Shakespeare Park at 1850 Elm Street, and to your right you will see one of the loveliest public gardens in the state.  It is a garden with history and celebrity.

On July 19th a ceremony took place at the entrance to Shakespeare Park, paying tribute to Christine Rudney for all she has done in the last eleven years to bring the Shakespeare garden back to life.  Our Sister Cities group, part of an organization that connects all the Stratfords of the world, sponsored a bench for the garden with the inscription:

Stratford Sister Cities

In Recognition of Christine Rudney

Christine Rudney Bench With: Left to right, standing: Jaqueline Partridge, Orna Rawls, Christopher Aurelia, Anne Lees, Deb Perssons Left to right seated: Christine Rudney, Jean Goodnow 

The Sister Cities Choir performed several pieces on the steps of the White House.  Christine was clearly touched, and gave her thanks to those who have participated in so many ways over the last decade.  She also gave us the origin story of the garden.

When the American Shakespeare Theatre was in its heyday in the 1950”s an actor named Will Geer performed there.  He later became well known as Grandpa Walton on the popular TV show, “The Waltons”.  What is less known about him is that he started out to become a botanist, and received his master”s degree in botany at the University of Chicago.

He was well-versed in the many plants that make an appearance in Shakespeare”s plays.  He could—and did—quote the lines with ease.  It was that passion that led him to create the herbarium at the property”s entrance.  He preferred the term herbarium because many of the plants in Shakespeare”s day were favored for purposes in addition to their beauty—food, medicines… and poisons. (See list below.) They were not the hybrid forms we are familiar with, but much smaller and less showy versions that today would likely be thought of as wildflowers or weeds.  For example, what Shakespeare referred to as a “pansy” was actually the much smaller “Johnny-Jump-Up” or Viola.  Our Pansies are hybrids that were cultivated in the 19th century.

Geer’s initial plan was a small Perdita spring garden, named for a character in “A Winter”s Tale”.  He envisioned it along the walk leading to the theatre, and something that would be enjoyable and educational for the many school children who came to see performances.

Funds for a larger garden came from the Fairfield County Garden Guild (a little bit of magic!), and the initial labor came from Will Geer.  He had a vacation home at 3000 Nichols Avenue called Geer-Gore Gardens that he visited often throughout the years.  That garden provided some of the plantings for his new undertaking, which he named Shakespeare”s Herbal.

The basic layout remains the same, and is traditional for Shakespeare gardens, featuring boxwoods at the gate and pathways to guide you through the plantings.  The boxwoods that Will Geer planted were a cutting from a tree outside Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Stratford-Upon-Avon, given to him by a lady doctor who had visited the cottage.

As one garden story goes, there was a rather prominent actress working at the theatre (initials KH… any guesses??) who was in the habit of plucking lettuce from the garden for her salads.  When Will chided her for it, she tossed him twenty dollars, saying “go buy some more lettuce”.  He didn’t.  Instead he bought a crabapple tree, planted it just outside the garden and good-naturedly named it after her.  She responded with equal good humor, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she kept on picking lettuce.

Geer was with the theatre company for ten years, but left in 1965 to pursue work in California.  In his absence, someone always magically stepped in.  Sometimes it was actors and sometimes members of the Garden Guild, but Will returned often to look in on the garden and do his part in maintaining it.

Geer Photos: Will Geer starting the Shakespeare Garden

Wyman Pendleton, a fellow actor and garden enthusiast, shared care of the garden while he was a member of the acting company through the “70”s, working together with Will in the herbarium or writing each other with what new plantings or changes were being made.

When the theatre fell on hard times and was forced to close altogether in the “80”s, the garden fell into disrepair as well.  Guild members tried to maintain it for a while, but that, too, faded away.

Some thirty years later, around 2011, Christine entered the scene to provide a bit more magic—and a great deal of work.  Christine grew up in Stratford and worked at the theatre in her teens, so it has a very special place in her heart.  She lived its history.

Her marriage and career as a nurse had taken her to New York City where she lived for many years, raising her family.  She returned to her childhood home in the historic district when her father was ill, and it was then that she joined others who were hopeful of rejuvenating the theatre.  She happily took on the task of working with the costumes worn by so many stars who headlined there.  She created an exhibit which was displayed not only in the lobby area of the theatre, but also at the Fairfield Historical Society.  In addition, she helped to organize the boxes and boxes of theatre ephemera that filled the old offices—programs, receipts, letters and so much more.

She grew frustrated with all the failed attempts at restoring and restarting the theatre, so decided to take on a project where she could actually make something happen—the garden.  By that time it was a mess, with an overgrown pear tree at the center of it.  She consulted an arborist about pruning the tree so she could renew the garden.  He responded, “You can have a tree here, or you can have a garden, but you can”t have both.”  The tree was removed.  Sadly, somewhere in those intervening years the boxwoods from Anne Hathaway”s cottage had been removed, too.

Christine set to work.  Theatre-enthusiast and former Councilman Matt Catalano put her in touch with two women studying to be professional gardeners.  Jane Weimar and Delores Luciano needed hours to fulfill requirements for their licensing as Master Gardeners, and were happy to spend those hours working at the Shakespeare garden.

Delores got Christine connected with Sal Gilbertie of Gilbertie”s Herbs and Garden Center in Westport.  Every year since, his generous response has been, “Take as much you want.”  Jane made contact with Will Geer”s daughter Ellen to let her know his garden was being revived.  She was delighted and offered whatever support she could provide.

From this fresh start, Christine spearheaded all the subsequent activity, as well as being the dedicated worker, waterer and plant provider.  But she feels the magic of this garden is the way it brings people together.  “Someone always shows up,” she says. “Someone always steps in to help, just when you need it.”

People donate not only time and expertise, but plants either from their own gardens or purchased just for this one.  Friend and neighbor Orna Rawls has taken an important role as “keeper of the birdbath”, daily making sure the water is clean and fresh. The town has also contributed by providing some plantings, and assistance with the heavy labor.

Two more magic-makers showed up a couple of years ago, Anne Lees, a Master Gardener and Landscape Designer, and Jean Goodnow.  Anne is a professional gardener, and Jean maintains the Sister Cities Friendship Garden at Boothe Park.  She has also sought out donors of goods and services, as well as financial gifts for the Shakespeare garden.

Christine still actively takes a part in the garden, but has “handed over the trowel” to Anne and Jean. Their know-how and energy are providing the next generation of plantings and design.  If you”re interested in helping at the garden, stop by any Monday morning around 10:00 and talk with Anne and Jean.  Or, go there anytime to just enjoy the beauty of it all.

The following is a partial list of items planted in Will Geer”s Shakespeare”s Herbal:

  • Lupine
  • Heather
  • Aloe
  • Hyssop
  • Poppy
  • Aconite
  • Rue
  • Chamomile
  • Cinquefoil
  • Foxglove
  • Ginger
  • Columbine
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Borage
  • Spearmint
  • Mallow
  • Stock
  • Buttercup
  • Lemon Balm
  • and of course, Roses




About Stratford Sister Cities


History of Stratford Sister Cities

There are many Cities and Towns around the world with similar names; Stratford is no exception. Some Stratford’s around the world have and continue to establish relationships among the other Cities, Towns and their residents. A group of Stratford Sister Cities had got together in 1984 and began to have some reciprocal interaction.

The two Stratford’s that are closest to each other, Stratford, Ontario and Stratford, Connecticut, have had a long history of cultural, sporting, and social exchanges. Each year exchanges are organized. In 1985, Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, became involved and with their involvement, a reunion has taken place every two years

Sister Cities Organization in CT:  The late Hugh Catalano became the chairman for the Sister Cities Organization in CT, overseeing the chorus and the Youth Exchange Program between Ontario and Stratford CT.  Grade 6 and Grade 11 student ambassadors, chosen on the basis of merit and scholarship, participated in that cultural exchange opportunity in the 1990s into the year 2002, after which funding became unavailable.

Now:  The Sister Cities Organization includes 6 Stratfords in five countries:  United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and The United States.

Sister Cities Band and Chorus

1986:  Birth of the Official “Stratford Sister Cities Band” whose purpose was musical exchange with the other Stratfords of the world.  In 1987 the band traveled to England to perform with the Ontario Pipe Band and the Stratford-Upon-Avon Wind Band.  Hugh and Mary Lou Catalano accompanied the band on that trip which marked their long term involvement as promoters, organizers, and supporters of the Sister Cities program.

In 1989:  All three bands performed for Stratord, CT’s 350th anniversary to a full house at the Shakespeare Theatre. In 1990 The Sister Cities Band performed at Carnegie Hall and then went on tour to Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland.

The Sister Cities Chorus was born in 1991.  Founded by Hugh Catalano and conducted by Wooster Middle School music teacher, Lynn McGilvary, the chorus debuted locally in the spring of 1992.  The group traveled to Stratford-upon-Avon that summer and to Stratford, Ontario in the summer of 1993.  From 1996 until 2012, Dr.  Joe Utterback, Minister of Music at the First Congregational Church, was the chorus’ director.  The  baton was then passed to Jeffrey Leinen,  Choral and Drama Director at Stratford High School who currently holds the position.


The cultural aspect is important to the reunions. Three of the Sister Cities have well known theaters. A concert involving participation from each sister city is an integral part of each reunion. Each sister city asks its residents to billet or provide home stays so that the visitors can experience family living in a private home. This also helps to form lasting relations among the visitors and their hosts.

The reunions do not emphasize commercial relations as the organization is not in that business. There are no formal or other business meetings but there are many social gatherings. The only meeting usually held is to determine the location of the next reunion.

Local and national businesses are usually asked for support in defraying some of the costs involved in each reunion and have been most generous in the past.

Stratford Sister Cities Friendship Garden

This garden is located in Boothe Memorial Park near the rose garden. This friendship garden is dedicated to the following cities:

  • Stratford-Upon-Avon, England
  • Stratford, Ontario
  • Stratford, Prince Edward Island (PEI)
  • Stratford, New Zealand
  • Stratford, Australia

Each of the six Stratfords has an identical garden which are planted with colorful red, blue and green plants.


Road Work Alert

by State Representative Joe Gresko, (D)
121st Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) announced a milling and resurfacing project for 0.66 miles of Route 1 in Stratford from Aug. 4th -11th.

The milling segment is anticipated to be performed Aug. 4th-8th while the resurfacing portion is slated for Aug. 8th-11th. This project is included in CTDOT’s 2022 Vendor Resurfacing Program.

Motorists can expect lane closures on Route 1 from Main Street Route 113 to Ferry Boulevard. The work schedule for this project is Sunday through Friday 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be utilized to guide drivers through the work zone.

Modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions. Please maintain a safe speed when driving in this area during the work.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me at the Capitol at 800-842-8267 or email me at

Joseph P. Gresko

Calling All Girls – Volleyball Summer Clinic

Sterling House Community Center

Monday & Tuesday, August 8th & 9th
Erin’s Gym (located behind Sterling House)

This Volleyball clinic is for female players entering 6th – 10th Grade. Beginner and advanced players are welcome. Players will learn the fundamentals, skills, strategy, and positioning of Volleyball through drills and games.

Beginner & Intermediate Players: 5:00 – 6:30 pm

Advanced Players: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

About the Coach:

Daniel Romaniello is currently a teacher for the town of Stratford at Wooster Middle School. He played 4 years of Division 2 club volleyball for Southern Connecticut State University. Dan coaches at the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels at Bunnell High School.

For more information, please contact Athletic Director, Catherine Proto, at

Fee for the clinics is $45.  Financial Aid is available for our athletic programs! Please contact the Main Office for more information (203) 378-2606.

Mark Your Calendar

Paradise Green Farmer’s Market Back Better Than Ever!!
Every Monday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Connecticut Grown and Made

Democrats and Republicans will head to the polls on August 9th to choose their parties’ nominees in contested local, state and federal races. State law allows voters to begin casting absentee ballots three weeks before that date, which means the period for mailing in ballots began on Wednesday, July 13th. Call or stop by Town Hall for your ballot application.

Monday Matinee at Stratford Library

August 8th
Lovell Room at 12 P.M.

Spider-Man: No Way Home
Blockbuster sequel to the popular franchise starring Tom Holland and Benedict Cumberbatch. PG-13, 148 minutes

Summer Concerts on Paradise Green Gazebo, Tuesday, August 9th. Comedian Kevin Dolan at 6:15 and The Void, Rock, Pop and R&B at 7 p,m. Bring a chair, bring snacks, and rock out!

The Stratford Library will go to the dogs with a special program from the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, “Fidelco Puppy Raising” on Wednesday, August 3rd from 7-8 the Lovell Room. The program is free and open to the public.

The Short Beach Summer 5K Run or walk.

Saturday August 6th. Kids Fun Run on the Beach! Registration ends August 6th . Less than 30 spots left! 1 Dorne Rd, Stratford.
*We will have protocols in place for safety, and will follow all best practices as set forth by our town and state. This event is limited to 350 people. To register go to:

Learn about Colonial life in Stratford.

Thanks to Connecticut Summer at the Museums Judson House has free admission for children (accompanied by an adult). Tours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

What Pandemic? Stratford Slashes Student Health Services

Letters To The Editor

By Rachel Rusnak

In an effort to balance the BOE budget after the Town Council failed to fully fund Stratford Schools, the Town has informed St. Mark & St. James schools that they will no longer have access to a full-time nurse. In a letter to parents upon receipt of this news, St. Mark Principal Melissa Warner noted that “Reducing our nurse might make the Town of Stratford’s budget look better on paper and allow for money to be allocated elsewhere; but it is NOT benefitting anyone in Stratford, especially our children.”

As a parent, I elected to send my son to St. Mark in an effort to provide him with the best educational opportunities. Stratford’s designation as an Alliance District, having among the lowest Accountability Index measures in the state, reinforced my decision.

Now, in an effort to balance a budget slashed by our Town Council, Stratford is playing fast and loose with the health and safety of our children. The move has ruffled parents’ feathers, in 24 hours a petition launched to support keeping a full time nurse at both private schools has garnered over 600 signatures.

As Stratford tax (and private school tuition) payer’s, parents believe that our children deserve access to a nurse every day they are in school. I also believe that the State of Connecticut would agree, since State Statute Sec. 10-217a. reads:

(a) Each town or regional school district which provides health services for children attending its public schools in any grade, from kindergarten to twelve, inclusive, shall provide the same health services for children in such grades attending private nonprofit schools therein, when a majority of the children attending such schools are residents of the state of Connecticut.

Unless Stratford is planning to slash nursing services at its public schools as well, the proposal would appear to violate the State Statute, by not providing equitable access to health services to the Town’s two private schools.

Stratford needs to get its act together, it was a travesty that our administration failed to fully fund our schools, and now will jeopardize the health and safety of our children while still in the midst of a public health crisis. I am loath to consider what dangerous proposal will come next as the Town continues to penalize our children for their poor financial decisions.

Kevonna Edwards Bicycle Rodeo

15 Years of Rodeo with Stratford Rotary, PAL and SRO

South End Community Center

Kevonna Edwards was a CARE Counselor and worked in after school programs at the South End Community Center. In 2007, Kevonna who was a Bunnell student, died tragically in a car accident.

A decision was made by Tymatha (Ty) Sims, South End Community Center (Program Coordinator, and Alec Voccola, who was with the police emergency service, and whose son was a friend of Kevonna, to do a Bike Safety Rodeo for summer school students that would connect with community leaders.  The Bike Safety Rodeo fits Kevonna’s memory, as she loved teaching, and always stressed safety.

Voccloa, who was an SRO officer worked to keep the rodeo alive, and has kept the program running safety, even though Covid forced them to downsize. Also on board is PAL, who showed up with bikes, helmets, cones for the

Sponsors who were “rounded up” to participate include: SRO and PAL have been huge supporters.

Stratford Rotary, who has been on board for 15 years and has given participants bike bells, bike lights, helmets, bikes, bike locks, and provide participants lunch and snacks.

Children who do not have bikes are given bikes.  After 15 years the Bike Rodeo participants have grown so that they now have 30 riders.

There is 30 children in the Summer Camp program, with 6 children who are “leaders in training” who have had 24 hours of training before program.  The leaders in training help with lesson plans, field trips, and day-to-day activities.  After summer camp is over they are evaluated and given a small stipend.

Boogie on the Sand, Cool off in the Water!

Blues on the Beach Saturday

Music, Food, Tent Decorating Contest, Fun and Friends

The annual “Blues on the Beach” summer music festival, which has become an increasingly popular summer ritual for Stratford, will take place at Short Beach on Saturday, July 23rd, from 12:00 p.m. -9:00 p.m. Blues is part of the Stratford Celebrate Festivals and is run by volunteer Erin McLaughlin.

Short Beach will close at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, July 22nd, the evening before the festival, to accommodate stage set-up for Saturday’s events. The Short Beach Golf Course will be closed the entire day on Saturday, July 23rd.
Residents attending “Blues on the Beach” are asked to note the following:

• Only Town Residents will be allowed to park at Short Beach. Stratford resident stickers are required to park at Short Beach.
• Beach access will be closed on Friday, July 22nd at 7:00 p.m., so preparations can be made.
• Parking for the public will begin at 9:30 a.m.
• Bicycles are allowed but must be walked in the park area per Stratford Police Department.
• Golf Cart parking is allowed in designated area.
• No dogs or pets are allowed at the beach.
• Cooking with charcoal is prohibited.
• A pickup and drop-off area for Ubers and children or family members has been designated at Wayne’s Walk at the intersection of Riverdale Drive and Lighthouse Ave.
• Trash from attendees must fit inside of the BigBelly compacting receptacles available on site. Bagged garbage should be placed in dumpsters and not be left beside receptacles.

This year the Stratford Arts Commission is sponsoring a Tent Decorating Competition, and those winners that creatively decorate their tent will receive an early parking pass for Blues on the Beach in 2023.
There will be food trucks:

The Drunk Alpaca will have a double booth, ! Look for the hot pink tents! Beer Snacks & Baked Goodies made with CT Craft Beer, Whiskey & Hard Cider! Gluten Friendly and Vegan snack options are available.

Beer/Hard Cider Glazed Chips
Beer/Hard Cider Caramel Mixed Nuts
Beer/Hard Cider/Malted/Whiskey Pretzels
Candied Pecans
Beer Brownies
Beer Blondies

Line-Up of Performing Bands:

12:00 – 12:45 p.m. Music Kick-Off, Soundview

1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Oddfellows

2:00 – 2:45 p.m. Vinny & Ray

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. CK3

4:15 – 5:15 p.m. Swamp Hogs

5:30 – 6:45 p.m. Remember September

7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Chris D’Amato

8:15 p.m. Alpaca Gnomes

Heat Hints for Blues on the Beach

State Representative Phil Young (D)
120th Connecticut House District

Dear Neighbor,

The summer’s first heat wave is here. The next several days are set to see temperatures in Connecticut reach more than 90 degrees with a heat index of triple digits at times, which has prompted activation of the state’s extreme hot weather protocol starting today and effective through 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 24th.

The purpose of the protocol is to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive protection from hot conditions. While enacted, a system is set up for state agencies, municipalities, and other partners to coordinate with United Way 2-1-1 to make sure that information regarding cooling centers is available statewide, providing a location to get some relief from the hot conditions.

Anyone in need of a cooling center should call 2-1-1 or look online at to find their nearest location.

There are three cooling centers in Stratford:
Baldwin Center – 1000 W. Broad St.
Stratford Library – 2203 Main Street
Stratford YMCA – 3045 Main Street

Visit the Town of Stratford website for more information, including hours of operation for each location.

Heat-related illness can affect anyone, though some people are at greater risk than others, including infants and young children, people 65 years of age or older, those who are overweight and anyone who overexerts during work or exercise or is physically ill with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.

Here are some additional tips to stay safe in extreme heat.

Enjoy the Beach, Have Fun at Blues on the Beach


Box Turtle Defended in Public Meeting

Development at 99 Hawley Lane Tabled by Inland Wetlands Commission

Twelve people braved thunder, lightening, and downpours to show up Monday night at the Inland Wetlands Commission Special Meeting to oppose development at 99 Hawley Lane.  On The area directly borders a wetland, a type of environment that is especially sensitive to development. Wetlands absorb water, protect against erosion and flooding, and provide wildlife habitat. In fact, a very sensitive resident lives in this area—the Eastern Box Turtle, a state listed species of special concern.

99 Hawley Lane is part of a larger area included in the Natural Diversity Data Base recognized as eastern box turtle habitat. The Natural Diversity Data Base (NDDB) shows approximate locations of species in Connecticut that have been designated as endangered, threatened, or special concern.

Editors Note: A regular meeting of the Inland Wetlands Commission met on Wednesday, July 20th, at which time under Old Business, a vote on the development was tabled until several questions were researched.  The Commission is seeking input and answers on:

  • The suggestion from the developers to provide a conservation easement for the wetland.
  • Marking the area with a split rail fence to delineate wetland area
  • Lawn area treatment and runoff
  • Snow removal runoff
  • Bedrock removal
  • Control plan for vegetation
  • Box turtle education plan for contractor crews.

The developer, Mountain Development Corporation, site plans show the company plans to build a 110,000-square-foot apartment complex, which will also feature a community building and pool, east of the existing office park and south of the Big Y supermarket. In addition to the apartment building, the complex would include a 2,550-square-foot community building and an outdoor pool for residents. The building would be surrounded on three sides by more than 300 parking spaces.

Raymond Rizio and Christopher Russo, Land Use Attorneys with Russo & Rizio in Fairfield, delivered information on the development before the commission.  His presentation was barely audible to those in attendance (he had his back to attendees and did not use a microphone) and his accompanying flip chart was not visible to those in attendance. (Though visible to commission members.)

George Logan, a consultant with REMA Ecological Services, which provides natural resource management, environmental planning, and compliance services throughout the Northeast, was hired by Mountain Development, to do an environmental assessment.  Mr. Logan, a charter member and past president of the Connecticut Association of Wetland Scientists, gathered baseline information on the site in January and June of 2020 and 2021.  According to Logan, the site he referred to as an urbanized watershed, found the wetlands dominated by organics, having a stable center with edges he termed “in trouble”.  Catch basin overflow having an outlet at Johnson Drive.

Logan did not review the entire area that would be impacted by development, but walked all edges closest to the development and assessed both direct and indirect impact on the development.  He acknowledged that he was probably was going to come under “blow back” for not doing an assessment on the entire area.  In his professional opinion, he felt that the site was a highly functional wetland having lots of animal movement, with aquatic life being isolated and fragmented.

Commission Comments Following Mountain Development Presentations:

Kelly Kerrigan: questioned the maintenance of the properties retention basin.

Manny Philips,an engineering consultant for Russo & Rizio, said that the area around basin has become overgrown, but that he had checked che control function and found basin still operable; there has been some maintenance around the basin, but that there are trees growing around the perimeter.

Kerrigan: will there be any acid rock issues with the removal of bedrock?

Phillips: The rock is at furthest edge of property, and we will do blasting.  We will be working with the Fire Department and neighbors, though we don’t see any issues.

Angela Capinera:  would you please explain to me more about the herbicide you intend to use at the site?

Logan: the herbicide, which is specific to plants, is Brush-B-Gon is a post-emergent, systemic herbicide.

Editor’s Note: Brush-B-Gon is the commonly used short name for Brush-B-Gon Poison Ivy and Brush Killer manufactured by the Solaris Group, of San Ramon, California. Brush-B-Gon and Roundup, made by the Monsanto Corporation, of St. Louis, Missouri, are both post-emergent, systemic herbicides. Post-emergent means they are applied to weeds that are above the soil and growing. Systemic means they are absorbed by plants and move inside the vascular system. They are easily compared because Brush B Gon is a selective herbicide; Roundup is a nonselective herbicide. BRUSH-B-GON® and ROUND-UP kill woody plants including stumps and vines around homes, cabins, buildings, fence lines, trails, and home rights-ol-way. Controls: Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, Blackberries, Kudzu, Willows, Oak, and other listed woody plants. [6/10/98 Notification] Kills the toughest brushy weeds.

Speakers at the Public Hearing (All opposed, and their issues)

Paula Sweeny: the Commission’s job to protect and defend; developers to make money.

Grace Arpie: this small piece of land is the last of what is left of wetlands in this general area of Stratford. Would like the Commission to hire their own herpetologist or biologist for a review of wildlife; suggested that the Town apply for funds from the state open space and watershed land acquisition program and preserve as open space.

Peter Bow: there will be an impact on groundwater; wetland runoff could have potential problems; any blasting would damage wetlands and would disrupt water table; crushed rock is a larger surface area than bedrock and cause yet more problems.

Laura Dancho: would like to have more information on the animal life; water table; foliage, what native trees to be removed, tree canopy loss; future maintenance and control comes under question after presentation.

Ken Warrenington: his property abuts Big Y; concerned about the runoff from 325 parking spots with toxic chemicals (oil, antifreeze, etc.) and salt from snow plowing; at what cost does economic development take president over residents?

Liz Gramling: would drive wildlife from their home; the natural area absorbs rainwater helps prevent flooding; we are losing green space all over town; we must weigh the outcome of development.

Lisa Salawski: this is an important eco system, and requested a herpetologist to do an in-depth study; egregious that developers can hide their development under the CT Gen. Statute 8-30g; maintenance a problem now.

Karen Rodia: biggest concern is the amount of impervious surface that will change hydrology of wetlands; Veterans Park is town owned protected this should be also; there are already maintenance problems.

Editor’s Note: Veterans’ Park is primarily a wetlands area and is largely inaccessible. The park may be accessed from either Seabreeze Circle or Johnson Lane. There is a trail that winds around the northern perimeter of the park from Seabreeze Circle to Johnson Lane.

Greg Dancho: major construction will remove wildlife; box turtles will not move; these  new residents will go into wetlands because they are curious and what to see what is out there; make smart choices for all inhabitants human and animal.

Norah Christensen:  don’t trash our own home.

Donna Zacowski: developers don’t seem to be paying taxes, maybe seize the property for town.

Kelly McCarthy: property backs up wetlands, turtles in her yard; Barry Knott said when he pushed for Big Y that it would not impact neighbors; every rainfall looks like a river, has a water easement in her backyard, whole backyard eroding since Big Y.  Where does all this rain go? Impossible to catch in a basin; blasting damaged my home; seeds tons of animal life; buffer zone supposed to be 75 feet, what is it now? (Kelly, 250 feet)

Susanna Smaldone: property abuts Big Y; the herbicide is toxic and will affect wildlife eggs.

Written comments emailed to Kelly Kerrigan and read alound at the meeting (all of which opposed the development) were from: Hedi Burger, Katie Bowe, Kimberly Burger, Marilyn Burger, Marca Leigh, Richard and Mary Marris, Jessica Wolf.