To the editor:

My fellow Westporters, the time has come to put a stake in the ground in support of the Westport Community Gardens remaining in service and in place during the construction of a new Long Lots Elementary School.  

Many opinions have been offered over the last months and I am convinced that a viable solution that allows the construction of a new school while safely allowing the community gardens to remain in place is possible.

The key issue before us is to decouple the BOE issues from the Parks and Recreation issues.  The BOE will have its school, and it should.  

However, the Parks and Recreation Commission can no longer hide behind the school project as a way to avoid relocating a baseball field at an alternate site at the expense of the community gardens.

For over two decades, the community gardens have been a place of respite, growth and unity for members of this community.  

What seems like a simple act of tilling soil is, in fact, a therapeutic and rewarding recreational activity accessible to people of all ages and abilities. It is an activity that keeps people active and engaged, benefiting them in overall health in ways like those engaging in traditional sports activities.

If elected to the Planning and Zoning Commission, I will be committed to the following:

  • Advocating for the preservation of the community gardens in their current location.
  • Finding collaborative solutions to maintaining the gardens and allowing their safe use during the construction period, avoiding a shut down and losing two growing seasons.
  • Collaborating with the community to relocate the baseball field to a more central location in town where more of the community can enjoy it as players and fans.  

It’s time to dispense with the rhetoric and move forward with the development of our new school and the retention of our community gardens.

Joe Strickland

candidate, Planning and Zoning Commission