Sharp Debate Over Land Swap Proposal

Opponents say swapping and developing the land goes against the deed.

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17 acres in Haddam, with views of the Connecticut River, that could be swapped for 87 wooded acres.
Photo:Nancy Eve Cohen
The owners of Riverhouse Properties want to swap 87 wooded acres for 17 acres of land near this banquet hall.
Photo:Nancy Eve Cohen
Haddam resident Daria Thompson walks the preserved land that the state could swap.
Photo:Nancy Eve Cohen
Part of the 17 acres on the Connecticut River that lawmakers are considering swapping for 87 wooded acres.
Photo:Nancy Eve Cohen
A map of the land involved in the proposal.
Sharp Debate Over Land Swap Proposal
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Sharp Debate Over Land Swap Proposal

For the third year in a row lawmakers are considering a bill that would swap a parcel of state-owned land next to the Connecticut River in Haddam for a much bigger parcel adjacent to a state forest.  WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports opponents want the land near the river preserved.

In 2003 the state bought a parcel of land for $1.35 million and preserved it as a wildlife management area.  It includes meadows, woods and views across the Connecticut River. Just up the hill from the property is a banquet hall called the Riverhouse. Senator Eileen Daily is proposing the state exchange these 17 acres with the owners of  Riverhouse Properties for 87 acres of woods next to the Cockaponset State Forest in Haddam. Daily says the Riverhouse owners could develop the land with its views of the river into a small hotel, creating what she calls an "economic engine".

“The town of Haddam and the town of East Haddam would benefit  by having a greater tourist  destination than East Haddam has on its own. And the state would benefit by the economic development.”

The proposal has the support of the first selectmen from Haddam and East Haddam.  But a group called the Citizens for the Protection of Public Land want to ‘stop the swap’. That’s their slogan.  Daria Thompson, a member of the group, is walking the land towards the river. She points out  that the deed, signed by the state when it purchased the property, says the parcel “should be retained in its natural scenic or open condition.”

“Public space, especially along the Connecticut River, is so important. On principle and ethic and legality I can’t turn away from this issue.”

The Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection isn’t commenting on the proposal. The Senate is expected to vote on it towards the end of the legislative session.

For WNPR I’m Nancy Cohen.

***To see a PDF of the deed, click here***



response to 'Crusty'

I agree with Crusty about the marinas and yacht clubs in Essex. I think I am in a third world country traveling in between wealthy enclaves and poor areas here in Connecticut. In fact the people that are members of these clubs are wealthy individuals who have made money in this country, pay little taxes as compared to 20 years ago, and enjoy displaying their wealth with monstrous homes and big boats and cars.

Yet Crusty wants to take state land and give it to another millionaire. He/she is probably in favor of cutting back social programs for working people that the state and Washington are doing.

Which side are you on Crusty? The millionaires (as long as they don't live in Essex) or middle class and working people who don't live along the shoreline or have fancy boats -- who just have a little bit of paradise that is the public lands of the state?

" You and the rest of the

" You and the rest of the haters from Essex need to give Haddam a break. I suggest that you refocus your efforts into turning Essex’s polluting marinas and yacht clubs into nature preserves. The truth hurts Jerky. "

East Haddam Board of Selectmen voted to oppose the Swap 5/4/2011

Last night, the East Haddam Board of Selectmen voted to oppose the Swap. They were honorable in listening to their constituents, and decided to take a vote. Democracy at its best!! They now plan to send a letter to all of the legislators.

Let's just hope they do not receive the same 'canned response' that everyone has been receiving from Daniel C. Esty, Commissioner, DEEP.

And if you have not seen the 'canned letter' it looks like this....


Thank you for the time you spent writing to Governor Dannel P. Malloy about the proposed exchange of land in Haddam that would involve state property at the Clark Creek Wildlife Management Area. The Governor asked that I respond to your letter.

I appreciate the concerns you raised in your letter. Protecting open space for future generations and for the betterment of this state is important to me and is a core function of this agency.

As you know, there is legislation pending before the General Assembly, House Bill 1196, that would authorize the transaction in Haddam. This legislation has the support of some local elected officials, regional business leaders, and state elected officials that represent Haddam and surrounding towns.

The most effective way for you to make your voice heard on this issue at this time, would be to discuss it with your local officials and legislators.

Thank you for expressing your passion about preservation and your specific thoughts about this proposed piece of legislation.

Yours truly,
Daniel C. Esty

It is good news that Stop the

It is good news that Stop the Swap made the news , however it isn't enough nor did NPR say enough. This land swap would certainly jeopardize the future of natural land preservation for all residents in CT. not just Haddam. In addition to the aforementioned, this parcel is currently available for all to enjoy. This swap, if passed would be, in my opinion unethical. This bill was not intended for the act of private capital gain. Also, this land is a rare habitat for both flora and fauna and should be preserved as such. As far as the 87 acres offered as ‘trade’... it is my understanding that it is not a viable or sustainable trade for anything as it stands currently. And, in my opinion, it is in no way comparable under any condition. PLEASE go to and WATCH the video for the facts. It is well done and worthy of your time

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