Keith Ainsworth: Name Madison's Newest Park "Robert Schuman Park"

"Truly, without Mr. Schuman's efforts there would be no park for you to find a name."

On Thursday,  Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. Boy Scout Nate Rogers will host a town meeting at Memorial Town Hall to discuss the renaming of Madison's newest park. As part of an Eagle Scout project supported by the Madison Board of Selectmen, Rogers is offering town residents the opportunity to suggest names for the new park, which will then be forwarded to the selectmen for a final decision. Anyone from Madison is invited to hear about the project and fill out a suggestion form. Residents also can send an email to constitutionparkrename@gmail.com

Madison resident Keith Ainsworth sent this suggestion to Rogers for consideration, and agreed to have his letter republished in Madison Patch. 


   I just wanted to weigh in as an ole Eagle Scout (from 1979...). I was the attorney who represented SGOD in its 10 year battle to save the Griswold airport property from becoming 127 condominium units. That group put in hundreds of hours of volunteer work gathering signatures, hiring expert geologists, hydrologists, an avian biologist, a coastal marsh biologist and a waste water treatment expert to explain to Madison and the CT Department of Environmental Protection the value of saving the property (and the harms of allowing it to be paved over).

None of that would have been possible without the financial support of hundreds of people, but especially thanks to Robert Schuman, a Madison resident, who donated several hundred thousand dollars to the cause and then later over a million dollars toward the purchase.

Mr. Schuman was not just a passive donor. I attended many meetings at his home and at SGOD headquarters where he actively participated in everything from brainstorming and strategizing to stuffing envelopes. He was truly a remarkable man who was singularly devoted to the cause of protecting and promoting the appreciation of birds of all kinds.

Truly, without Mr. Schuman's efforts there would be no park for you to find a name. Therefore, while I know the Selectman may have a political problem with Mr. Schuman (the Selectman were strenuously  in favor of the condo project at the time because they wanted the tax dollars more than they wanted wildlife habitat), it would be most fitting to honor the efforts he made in making the new coastal park possible. 
 "Robert Schuman Park" (and then name the individual fields after prominent sports figures in town or other benefactors).

Good luck.

Keith R. Ainsworth, Esq.
Law Offices of Keith R. Ainsworth, Esq., LLC
Madison, Connecticut 06443
Charlie Shafer January 09, 2014 at 07:11 AM
Interesting and helpful summary. At this point, politics are irrelevant, let's just try to rename this park, and Mr. Ainsworth's suggestion makes much sense in light of the information here.
sand man January 09, 2014 at 09:22 AM
I still like Griswold Airport Park
Madison Resident January 09, 2014 at 09:47 AM
"Janet", I would prefer responding to someone who is willing to place their full name on their commentary, but the answer is that ultimately, this name issue is irrelevant to the fact that the park is now a park and not condos. What it comes down to is a bit of spite. The restrictions placed on the naming process deliberately prohibited the use of "adult advocacy groups" (SGOD?), living or recently deceased persons (Living: Dr. McCullough, recently deceased: Bob Schuman). The park became a park over the Selectman's objections, but once the wave of public sentiment spoke, they went with it and now are kind of sanitizing its origins. At least that is how the people who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over a decade fighting the Town feel. When you fight that hard to get the Town to do something, it is hard to swallow the maneuvering which essentially says..."but you'll never get any credit for it". I'm a big fan of fair process. I'm not saying that reasonable minds can't differ. I'd just prefer to see the process be unmanipulated. Keith Ainsworth
Tim Millhiser January 09, 2014 at 12:05 PM
First, I wholly endorse everything Mr. Ainsworth, Esq said in his letter to Scout Nate Rogers and will refrain from repeating it. Mr. Shumann was a ardent protector of sensitive environments. The Griswold Airport/Madison Landing was just one of many such questionable proposals for which he supported research and acted according to the findings. In this case, not only did Mr. Schumann strongly support technical research by some of the country's foremost experts, as Mr. Ainsworth enumerated, but the research also clearly showed that the proposed 129-unit plan would permanently change the unique, adjacent virginal wetlands. In the end, Leyland, the developer, admitted in its own documents that phragmites, an invasive and destructive plant, would likely grow and flourish as a result of the development. Madison was lucky to have a citizen with Mr. Schumann's knowledge and support assuring sensitive lands be properly evaluated. In addition to helping save the Griswold site from over development, as a long-term, since he was a boy, resident of Madison, he also provided strong moral and financial support for various capital programs in town - the Scranton Library expansion, ambulance facilities and the Madison Land Trust to purchase important open spaces--are some of the most notable. He did all this work while staying in the background, finding the most satisfaction in knowing that his efforts helped to keep his beloved Madison the rich and unique town it has always been. Mr. Schumann is right up there with other town figures such as Scranton, Strong, Lowry, Bauer, etc. It would be most appropriate if Mr. Schumann, a quiet but strong environmentalist and birder, is celebrated by naming the park Robert Schumann Park. Madison can only hope that it continues to have people like Mr. Schumann who have such a broad and generous effect on the town. Finally, I want to thank Scout Nate Rogers and his committee for their fine work and ongoing effort to find a new name for this crown jewel of Madison's park lands.


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