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Meeting Thursday To Discuss Renaming Of Madison's Newest Park

The first effort, which resulted in the name "Constitution Park" didn't go over so well. Now the town is trying again, with the help of Eagle Scout Nate Rogers.

On Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Town Hall next to the Madison town green, there will be a meeting to discuss the renaming of Madison's newest park.


Here are the details from Boy Scout Nate Rogers who is helping the town gather information as part of his Eagle Scout Project. He says in the statement below that he would "like to invite anyone in Madison to come hear about my project and to fill out a suggestion form. In the event you are unable to attend the meeting however would like to suggest a name and reason for your choice, then you can email to me at constitutionparkrename@gmail.com.

Here is the full statement from Nate Rogers:

In July, 2013, Madison First Selectman Filmore McPherson approached the various Boy Scout troops in Madison with a possible Eagle Scout project, which was to help rename Constitution Park. I thought that this sounded like a very interesting project and contacted Mr. McPherson to discuss it. After our discussion, I was selected to be the lead organizer of this project, which is to obtain suggested names from the Madison community to then present to the town's Board of Selectmen. I met with my Eagle Adviser, Larry Kilburn and submitted an Eagle Scout project application to our BSA Council. The application was approved and I began to go to work. 

The new park, located on the sight of the former Griswold Airport, has been part of our town history for many years. Griswold Airport first opened in 1931 as a small privately owned airport and continued for the next 75 years. It is located along the shoreline, near Hammonasset State Park and is right on the water overlooking the Long Island Sound. The land was purchased by Leyland Alliance, a housing development company, with a plan to develop 127 housing units however many in the town were not in support of this. In early 2010, the Town of Madison voted on buying the 42 acres of land. In May of that year, the purchase was completed and Madison bought the land for 9 million dollars. Since then, the town has been working on building a park with trails and sports fields that residents in Madison will be able to use for years to come. The park will be opening in the Spring of 2014.

Many people in town are not happy with the name (Constitution Park) that has been given to the park because it does not directly relate to our town. Mr. McPherson has asked that the residents of Madison have the opportunity to submit their suggestions for a new park name. In September, 2013, I began my project by approaching the principals and various organizations within each of the town's six public schools. At the high school for instance, I was able to work with the schools student leadership and have every student at Hand respond with name suggestions via surveys handed out at their homeroom. I have since received over 600 student responses from the schools throughout Madison. My last step is to now include the residents of Madison in providing their suggestions.

On January 9th at 7pm, I will be hosting a town meeting at the Memorial Town Hall to discuss my project and offer town residents the opportunity to suggest names for our new park. I would like to invite anyone in Madison to come hear about my project and to fill out a suggestion form. In the event you are unable to attend the meeting however would like to suggest a name and reason for your choice, then you can email to me at constitutionparkrename@gmail.com.  It would be a great honor to say that you have been a part of naming a park here in town.

Location Details
Memorial Town Hall
8 Meeting House Lane
Madison CT 06443 US
Janet January 06, 2014 at 07:31 AM
I agree with Tom... Especially the "picking at a scab" reference. And even if we could sell, what buyer would pay $9mm?
Jay D January 06, 2014 at 07:56 AM
There is so much land there that will never be used, has anyone thought about putting a solar panel farm there and generate some revenue from the "fields of dreams"
sand man January 06, 2014 at 08:32 AM
I Think we should name it Griswold Airport Park like Bauer Farm was named after the Bauers and the same as Strong Field at the Surf Club.
Darcy Sordo January 06, 2014 at 08:34 AM
It should be named Griswold Park. This young gentleman is working on a project. Let's keep our focus on that.
Gus R. Horvath January 06, 2014 at 11:23 AM
How about Aerodrome Park?
Jay D January 06, 2014 at 12:43 PM
How about "Former First Selectman Fillmore McPherson Memorial Park"?
tom burland January 06, 2014 at 09:41 PM
Griswold Park, why? The Bauer brothers gave the property to the town and left a $2m trust fund to support Madison charitable endevours. I am sure the Griswold's are lovely people, lets not lump the 2 situations together. The Bauers earned the legacy no so with the Griswolds. Talk about picking a scab Gus, Aerodome...really
John January 07, 2014 at 06:44 AM
Griswold Park because everyone knows it as Griswold Airport.
Janet January 07, 2014 at 07:20 AM
Absolutely no to Griswold. We are stuck with it, so at least use the name to advertise our town. Madison Gateway or Madison Shores are good names. Madison Landing is also a great name, but that was taken by the previous owner.
sand man January 07, 2014 at 08:26 AM
Tom If OUR for fathers made better decisions in the past we would not have these scrapes and no scabs to pick. It dose not all ways take MONEY to be noteworthy, The property was always known as the Griswald Airport.
Gus R. Horvath January 08, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Sand man. The Town of Madison has a town meeting form of government. The "Town Fathers" can only send decisions to a town meeting or a referendum. The purchase was voted, overwhelmingly, by the voters, in a referendum. Since Oct. 18, 2007 there have been 21 town meetings/referendums called by the the Board of Selectmen. Of these, 2 were sent to referendum. The Airport; yes 3,275, and no 2,444 of 13,500 eligible voters and the Library; yes 5,068 and no 5,528. Two had achieved the quorum of 75 voters of 13,500 eligible and the remaining 17 did not. Those 17 resulted in the spending of $4,671,455. It appears to me that the Madison voters do not actively participate in our town meeting form of government the time of decision making but rather wait to complain after the all is said and done.
Jay D January 08, 2014 at 12:45 PM
The taxpayers were lied to. And McPherson is one of the biggest liars in this town.
tom burland January 09, 2014 at 04:16 PM
Jay D, what lies are you talking about? While I was opposed to this purchase I never felt lied to. Did The people supporting the purchase pander to special interest groups. Without a doubt, but lie...that is a stong word and honestly very innapropriate. Do I agree with everything our elected officials do? No. Filmore is an honorable and honest man, to call him a lier just because you are made about something is just uncivil. Gus makes the right point, 5,600 voters voted, 6,000 handed their wallets over to let someone else spend their money. Our forefathers set up a form of governement that distributed responsibility to the people who paid the bills. In the "old days" people showed up and accepted the blame for bad decisions. Looks like today, people abdicate responsibility and the blame others when a bad decision is made. There is often a call for more transparency in our local governement, and that is just lazy politics because it is a buzz word everyone uses. It would be hard to be more transparent. Decisons are made in public forums, hearings held, but as the old saying goes you an lead a horse to water but cant make them drink. Sandman, my point about not equating Bauer Park with Griswold in naming was not that everything should be about money, certainly we should honor those who serve the public. My comment was situational, you cant compare why the town named Bauer Park as the reason the park should be named Griswold. In the Bauer case, the farm was in the family since pre 1900, the brothers died and left millions and a preserved property for the benefit of madison citizens. In the Airport case, a failing business needed to sell, they ended up selling to highest bidder making a few bucks. That is exactly what they should have done. The airport was opened at a time when aviation was growing rapidly and was a good business opportunity, within 40 years the cost of operating a private small airport plus lack of customers caused this business to no longer make sense, this is a very normal business cycle. But hardly a reason a town should name a place that they spent $9+ Million on. You would only be right about the property always being known as Griswold Airport...if the world started in 1931. This is when Jack Griswold opened the airport on the property contAining the park http://www.evartsarchives.org/pdfs/histories/9-Griswold-Airport.pdf. ....however I am pretty certain it went by other names in the thousands of years preceeding Mr Griswold owning it.
Janet January 09, 2014 at 05:15 PM
Tom, I do question whether the taxpayers were provided with all the information, and fair and unbiased information. I attended the town meeting to outline the case for the purchase, and notably missing from the PowerPoint was the annual projected tax revenue from Madison Landing. The audience was shown an exciting rendering of all the elements of the new park. The taxpayers were told that their tax burden would be no more than one dinner out per year. I'm not saying it would have made a difference in the outcome, but I would expect the town to conduct referendums in a more unbiased manner.
tom burland January 09, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Janet, understand your point, however in reality the projected revenue from Madison Landing at the time of the sale discussions would have actually been mis-information. At the time i think Leyland was in serious financial straits, we were still in the housing depression and their focus was shifting to Storrs Center. It is doubtful that Madison Landing was going forward and those projects were based on a fully built out development. When the town was supporting the development against the special interst group that info was very public. Agree that an unbias representation should be made by town officials. Those projections were used at the time of the vote by groups against the purchase. I did not attend the forums as I had made my decision to vote against based on a a study of all the available info
Janet January 09, 2014 at 07:32 PM
And so to my other point of contention... The amount of money that we agreed to pay. Seems like bad negotiating skills to me. How was this land possibly appraised at $9MM in the middle of the real estate crash?
tom burland January 09, 2014 at 07:57 PM
The buyers, citizens of Madison, had all of the information and were living in the real estate crash. This was an emotional, not a logical purchase. The people voting for, were buying a vision. Peoples eyes were wide open going into the process. The seller had millions tied up in the property, millions in legal costs, engineering costs, consulting costs, no doubt they made money on the deal. But they had an asset that people spent millions defending against, so they new the emotion involved and what they could command. No need to re-hash. I do believe future generations will look back and be thankful we spent the money. Maybe we should name it Freedom Park in honor of all those who have fought and defended our free choice.
Janet January 09, 2014 at 09:44 PM
Tom, how do you feel about the Academy School situation? I feel it is an opportunity for the town to sell to a developer for upscale rental units (subject to aesthetic approval) or combo housing/commercial space. It is walking distance to train and town. Perfect opportunity to attract younger working people to town.
tom burland January 10, 2014 at 05:24 AM
Janet. I completely agree, with retail (resturaunts on first floor), keep face of current building side on RT1. Town retains right to put center district Academy St, bradley, Scotland ave back post rd, engineered sewage system with leeching field under current playing fields, retain playing fields. Uses space, economic dev investment, positive impact on tax roles. I alternatively think move library there, move the historic part of library, then sell library property for commecical use, add that space to tax rolls. Yup I've given it some thought
sand man January 10, 2014 at 09:47 AM
Janet & Tom What will we call this project?
Gus R. Horvath January 10, 2014 at 11:34 AM
Tom. The consultant's report on the Academy building suggests that housing is the most economically viable alternative. The move of the library to the building is debatable as a previous study determined that the existing structure could not support the floor loading of book stacks. A steel frame work could be installed within the existing walls but at great expense. The reports are available on the current study committee's web site. Also, recently met with town staff to discus viability of improving the commercial viability of downtown businesses with the installation of a packaged waste water treatment system. No doubt will create much discussion. Also, following up on growing need for empty nester housing to accommodate the "silver tsunami" generation (baby boomers!?)
tom burland January 10, 2014 at 11:50 AM
Sandman, how about q benefit to the tax payer
tom burland January 10, 2014 at 11:57 AM
Gus, on library I was thinking nuke the academy building and those between memorial town hall, move the historic scranton portion to academy end, build new structure in the middle, anchoring both ends of facility with historic structures. Gives parking needed for library and frees up a large tract of land on corner of wall and RT 1, generating revenue from sale and increasing tax base. This would be an ideal infrastructure swap, however cost prohibitive. Housing more viable. What I depicted in this and previous is optimal solutions from a Economic Development perspective, highest and best use perspective...obviously not from a politically achievable perspective too many narrow minded, history sensitive, do nothing folks in town
Fred January 10, 2014 at 01:02 PM
With regard to the disposition of Academy School building, there is no penalty for being wrong to the consultant, the study committee or the Town staff. For a private business person risking her own money, there is. Government has not proved to be a successful entrepreneur historically. Some folks have an understandable emotional connection to Academy School. Fine, put a restrictive covenant in the deed requiring that the façade, or a portion of the façade, be preserved, then sell it off to a private developer who can do with the property as she pleases, and get it back on the tax rolls. With regard to packaged wastewater treatment system, if same is installed, Madison will swiftly look very different than it does today.
tom burland January 10, 2014 at 01:36 PM
Fred agree with your point, I would not ever suggest tjhe town be in the housing business, my view is this is sold to private enterprise with approp caveats/restrictive covenents. The downtown center would look different, a more vibrant downtown that would generate jobs and revenue for the town. Personally I would love madison down town to feel more like a modest Chatham MA attracting $$ into the town. But the primary blocker if ability to have eating establishments downtown due to a septic only infrastructure
Matt January 13, 2014 at 02:58 PM
Both properties should have big signs out front that say "FOR SALE".
JC January 23, 2014 at 02:56 PM
How about keeping the park name as is, Constitution, call the area that used to be the airport “Griswold Memorial Field” and name the wildlife sanctuary areas and/or trails in the park after the Madison soldiers KIA during the Afghan and Iraq wars. Problem solved.
Matt January 23, 2014 at 04:47 PM
The Griswold's did not do anything for this park. They sold it for profit and moved out of town. I'm not aware of the Griswold family doing anything else of note for the town either (though I could be wrong about that). What about the Griswolds would we be memorializing??
JC January 23, 2014 at 05:30 PM
or don’t include the Grisses (indeed, they did do little but, I was compromising in my suggestion and assumed most would understand that) Memorialize the field, trails, etc. in name for the hero(es). They and all war heroes defended the Constitution. Apt that the park be named Constitution. Matt: stop being a troll.
Matt January 23, 2014 at 09:44 PM
By "stop being a troll", you mean "stop pointing out incorrect information or asking for logical answers???

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