Sunday, June 16, 2024

Against Development


by Norah Christianson

It’s interesting that our town motto is, “Offering more from forest to shore.” We Stratfordites like to see our town this way.

In the Town Council Chambers, where most town business is conducted, there is a large mural picturing settlers arriving on our shore—most likely Mac’s Harbor where our first settlers landed in 1639. There is the forest across the river, there is the shore, there is a couple with a child, there is a man kneeling—presumably in prayer, and two other men, one with a musket. We like to see ourselves this way—part of history, pure, idealistic, brave.

On a side wall, there’s a picture of an old white-steepled church—perhaps Christ Episcopal Church on Main—as old-New-England a church as they come. We like to see our town this way.

There are other paintings on the walls of the Town Council Chambers depicting Stratford as we like to think it is—a lovely little town with forest and shoreline. But this is fast becoming a LIE.

Big apartment building, big storage buildings are blocking the sky, shadowing the small businesses and restaurants, gutting our wetlands, tripling traffic flow, polluting, turning our town ugly.

The building of a monumental apartment complex in our town center, where Center School used to be, will destroy the aesthetics, the character, and the atmosphere of our town’s center. And aesthetics does not just mean a pretty face.

There has been several research studies done showing the correlation between improved neighborhood aesthetics and its positive influence on social cohesion, mental health and lower stress. Where people live—the atmosphere, the spirit, the beauty or lack of beauty—affects people’s spirit and mood. Aesthetics are important to the well-being of human beings.

I am ashamed that greed is persuading our leaders to sell our heritage and put up a great looming, oppressive building in our sweet New England town center.

I see the future. I see the future walls of Stratford Town Hall’s Chambers. Instead of the pictures of our hopeful settlers and our old white church, the walls will be decorated (desecrated would be a better word) with pictures of great, flat, soul-less box buildings that block the sun and darken the spirit.

I appeal to the zoning committee, the wetlands committee, any and all committees who vote whether or not to accept plans for these developments, to have some scruples, have some sense, have some heart. Do not continue to approve the despoilment of our town and land.


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