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Letter to the Editor: Effort to Preserve Happy Landings

"What Brookfield won, by referendum... was a beautiful place to remain just as it is."

To the Editor:

When the people of Brookfield voted — twice! — in 1999 to preserve Happy Landings Farm as a "permanent, protected, open, space," they knew exactly what they meant by that term, and what they did not mean. A "mixed-use location" was what the other side was voting for, and that meant: A place with designations for special interest activities, or other possible amenities such as commercial interests, sodium vapor lighting, or hot dog wagons, etc... What Brookfield won, by referendum, with a margin of almost 3 to 1, was a beautiful place to remain just as it is — a wide open pasture with a wide open sky — all of it equally accessible to every Brookfield resident to find his or her own personal delight.

Although the June 4 town meeting this year was the first public announcement of it, the private concern, "Kanine Kingdom," mentioned in their presentation that they had been working on their project for 18 months. Those at the meeting who opposed this project (about 7-1 against, in a show of hands) stressed that they were in no way opposed to a dog park, but rather to the location proposed. Of course a dog park, encompasing only 2 percent of the total of Happy Landings Farm, can be thought of as hardly an incursion into the 74 acres, but it immediately changes the definition of the whole property from a "Permanent Protected Open Space" to a "Mixed-use Location" — the very meaning Brookfield citizens worked so hard to prevent — and makes the land vulnerable to any other private activity that someone may wish to set up on the field in the future. Why would the people of Brookfield have called two referendums to prevent it if that is what they wanted?

IMPORTANT: The town has recently changed the scheduled date for a town meeting to vote on this project, from June 28 to June 18, leaving the absolute minimum (five days, including Father's Day weekend) for those opposed to the private use of this public property to marshall opposition, or gather signatures for a referendum! These dedicated volunteers, the "Happy Landings Association," have an application in progress for a nonprofit 501c3 license, dedicated to preservation of the farm as "permanent, protected, open space." They have a Facebook presence for updates, and will shortly have set up a website.

The HLA are seeking an attorney, accepting volunteers, and donations for their cause. Messages can be sent to HappyLandingsAssociation@yahoo.com

Barb Norman

Lisa Foltz Allan June 14, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I agree that Happy Landings is a beautiful place. Kanine Kingdom is looking to fence in an area that's less than an acre in a spot directly next to Rt. 25 and the parking lot. This spot was recommended to as the best location from the conservation committee. This fenced in area falls into the parameters of protected open space. Happy Landings will remain the beautiful spot it has always been. Brookfield is not a large town and surrounding towns already have dog parks. Kanine Kingdom will not be a new "attraction" but a place for people in the community to gather, with their canine companions and let them play and socialize off leash. People letting their dogs off leash out in the fields is much more detrimental to wildlife, unsafe and not to mention illegal. So, I ask everyone to open their minds to this. Kanine Kingdom does not lead the way for bigger things to be built on Happy Landings. I hope you read this right; it's not written harshly, defensively or with anger so try not to read it that way. Thank you
Andrew Turkenkopf June 14, 2012 at 06:41 PM
It is not "private" use. Everyone can use it. Please get your definitions of words correct before you make statements based on them. Until then, we have nothing further.
Jeff Albarn June 14, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Perhaps "exclusive to dog owners" would be a better phrasing..."private" denotes exlcusion of the general public as a whole...
Andrew Turkenkopf June 14, 2012 at 08:35 PM
As far as I know, you don't have to have a dog to enter dog parks? Correct me if i'm wrong?
Michael Gianfranceschi June 15, 2012 at 02:35 AM
no, but i would have to pay a fee therefore I would be paying to go onto this property which my tax dollars already helped pay for. correct me if I'm wrong!!
Lisa Foltz Allan June 15, 2012 at 03:29 AM
A fee was only a suggestion by someone
barb norman June 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM
This "less than an acre" phrase is completely misleading. What about the plan to expand the existing parking lot from 10 cars to 40 cars? This will certainly enlarge upon that "1 acre" definition. It also creates a much larger area that will need plowing, which is done by the town, and paid for with resident's tax money! In earlier posts you have complained that people who opposed this location site have done nothing to help you find another. Yet you have never commented on several prospective sites e.g. the area behind the firehouse where the brush pile is, nor on the fact that a member of Happy Landings Assoc. who owns 2 acres north of 4 Corners has offered them to your group at a price that is less than half their market value. The K-9 grass that you propose will need water to clean it, which will also mandate a drainage system - more encroachment on Happy Landings - and where will you get this water? Are you going to drill into the aquifer??? (sp??) All of this adds to the amount of land you will need, which now far exceeds "1 acre".
Lisa Foltz Allan June 15, 2012 at 02:06 PM
The dog park is less then one acre, absolutely. The parking lot? People complained at the meeting how they have to call the cops NOW because people park on their lawn. Seems like parking may already be an issue. The proposed future expansion of the parking lot by the Conservation Committee is not packaged with the dog park. Do you really think that this project is going to ruin Happy Landings? Absolutely not! It's going to make it better. The houses surrounding Happy Landings will NOT plummet. They will increase. Back to the plowing of a bigger parking lot...really? Find me exactly how much it's going to cost to plow those extra spaces please. I pay taxes too. As for the K-9 grass...it doesn't have to happen. We can surely make due without it. Problem solved. No one person Owns Happy Landings. I think it's wonderful you want to protect it. I wouldn't want to see it get developed into a strip mall. It saddens me when I hear the cornfield and soccer field will soon be a strip mall. We are not looking to do that. We are looking to put up a fence so people can let their dogs exercise and socialize while they socialize. That's it. It leaves no permanent mark even. Bottom line is I think it's a wonderful thing. Some people don't. There's no need to get mean or nasty with eachother. I believe you would be angry at anything on Happy Landings.
Jeff Albarn June 15, 2012 at 02:23 PM
How did New Milford, and other area townspeople get their respective "dog parks" built? Perhaps they may have some answers as to how to effectively communicate and present to the opposition? For whatever reason, there seems to be a huge portion of the Patch reading public who oppose any type of altering of the Happy Landings landscape, and it seems to be looking pretty bleak for the HL development.
Lisa Foltz Allan June 15, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Jeff, whenever someone opposes something, they come out in droves. Trust me though there are a lot of people who are all for the park being there and have no idea what Happy Landings is. To answer your question, Kimberly Clarke donated the land for the NM dog park. It is not town owned. To answer your next question; Yes, I have researched that avenue thouroughly. Brookfield just does not have that open land owned by corporations. We looked at many other town owned open space and Happy Landings is what was recommended by Conservation Committee. I agree, Love to spot. Also, I don't believe this would really be altering the Landscape of Happy Landings. When you think of Happy landings or you see photos, do you ever see a photo facing the corner and Route 25? Not me. It is un-utilized land
Matt Dewkett June 15, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Jeff, I believe businesses donated the land to do so. At least that's the case in Southbury, where O&G has land on their property that they have allowed the park on. They have even branded it with their signage. I am against a dog park at this location, but Lisa let me help you out here. Many of the people who have voiced their opinion on this forum have asked your "team", and you as the most vocal member at least in this forum, to look at some of the corporate landowners in Brookfield to see if a similar agreement can be worked out. Your consistent reply is effectively that you've exhausted ALL options other than Happy Landings. I think you might put some if this to bed if you'd specifically note which companies you've asked, and what their response was. I've gone through the comments pretty extensively, and you've always avoided the question of who, specifically, you've contacted and their response. By not doing that, the perception you're giving to those who are ready to jump down your throat is that you haven't done your due dilligence to alleviate their concerns about this location. If you pulled together a website, and posted written responses from the people you have contacted and their apparent "No" vote, you might deflect some of the heat on you and send it towards them for not being helpful. Being transparent, rather than relying on the "trust me, I've looked" might help you have a less caustic response from the general public.
Matt Dewkett June 15, 2012 at 03:19 PM
http://www.berkshirecorporatepark.com/index.php They own over 300 acres between Brookfield, Danbury, and Bethel. Have you made a formal request to them?
Michelle June 15, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Have the so called Kanine Kingdom folks, including you Lisa since you seem to the the public relations contact--Have you inquired about that specific parcel near the Fire Department? It is a sound suggestion as I spoke with several towns people last evening who agreed that it is a reasonable idea. Interestingly enough, as I have spoken to many Brookfield residents this week most are dog owners are not in favor of the dog park at all. Many Brookfield dog owners have conveyed that their furry friends are perfectly content and happy frolicking in their own yards. I personally have no problem with a dog park. However, I found that to be an interesting contribution of the Brookfield dog owners I have spoken to. My continued concern is protecting Happy Landings from development of any kind. If the door is open to the dogs, then who is next expecting a parcel for their special interest? An Equestion ring, ball fields, town pool, concert park, etc, etc. It will then snowball out of control as to what is next. The town voted in 1999 to PERMANENTLY protect this land as open space. It was NOT voted to permanently protect it for only 12 years or so. That was not the intention of every voter. The voters voice at the time was to leave this property alone. It is important to protect this jewel of Open Space for our families to enjoy for years to come. I would like to add that Matt D. has given some very sound,common sense advice in regards to finding more suitable locations for a dog park.
Home Sweet Home June 15, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Hi Lisa, Which realtor did you inquire with regarding property values. The two I spoke to, stated it will decrease current home values, not increase them...
Lisa Foltz Allan June 16, 2012 at 12:29 AM
By the way...it's 10 to 20 cars. I love it how I keep hearing from people they are being misled and guess who's name always comes up??
Lisa Foltz Allan June 16, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Matt, I could give you a list of places called with responses, etc. but what is that going to change? Is that going to make people say "ok, let's put it at Happy Landings"? No. Call me stubborn but I don't feel like I should be bullied into telling people everything we've done. Tell me what that would change. As for being the most vocal member, it's probably not served me well, huh? I honestly tried to just answer people's questions when this first began. Never would I have imagined what was to come. I have learned a lot though and I guess that's worth the range of emotions I have felt. I think people have their perceived perceptions of who I am and I would guarantee you they are wrong. I understand that people do not want this park on Happy Landings. I even understand people have different reasons why. I am of a different opinion and believe it would make Happy Landings better. Many people feel the way I do. We are all entitled to our opinions. People can have presumptions of me all day. I'm learning not to take this so personally because all it does is hurt me.
Lisa Foltz Allan June 16, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I'm sorry Michelle, I could only read your first sentence. I really don't understand the need to speak like that
barb norman June 17, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Lisa - did we read the same post from Michelle? Even if you could only read the first sentence - why are you calling her out on her verbiage? "I don't really understand the need to speak like that" Like what?? She asked a question in simple, straight forward English. What is wrong with that?
Lisa Foltz Allan June 17, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Why does she have to begin a sentance with "Have the so called Kanine Kingdom folks, including you Lisa since you seem to the the public relations contact--" It's meant in a rude way and I know it's with attitude since I've read all her other posts. Why are we so called Kanine Kingdom folks? Sorry, its just irritating and just going from other posts that have been written from her I felt I shouldn't get aggrivated by reading the rest. That's all. Thank you though for asking. I will be sure to address any questions from people who I Haven't had a past of seeing nasty posts from because that just pulls me down to be nasty and I hate that.
Andrew Turkenkopf June 17, 2012 at 03:05 PM
This is just me guessing, but I would assume the area near the fire department is too near the parks and fields around town hall, and I believe dog parks aren't supposed to be located near where children are likely to congregate? Also loud sirens hurt doggy ears? just guesses. I don't know, could be something to explore.
Lisa Foltz Allan June 17, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Good point Andrew. Sirens would not be good.
Andrea Grosner June 22, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I guess I'd like to know who the heck is on the Conservation Committee and why THEY feel the need to make/insist on decisions that should not only be PUBLIC knowledge to the town of Brookfield but also should be a TOWN decision. Just because Happy Landing was "recommended as the best location from the conservation committee" does not mean they can FORCE their decision on Brookfield. Shame on them for suggesting this because as we all know, it's a "permanent, protected, open, space" and shame on the BOS to AGREE to that decision. I wonder what other decisions the Conservation Committee has insisted on and the BOS have agreed to that the town has no knowledge of. And, Matt Dewkett asked Lisa if they looked "at some of the corporate landowners in Brookfield to see if a similar agreement can be worked out. Your consistent reply is effectively that you've exhausted ALL options other than Happy Landings. I think you might put some if this to bed if you'd specifically note which companies you've asked, and what their response was". The response from Lisa was "Call me stubborn but I don't feel like I should be bullied into telling people everything we've done." I think that was a completely fair question and I as a tax payer and resident of Brookfield INSIST on knowing EVERYTHING that was done regarding this issue and if Lisa wont tell us then I'd like to know WHO will.
Michelle June 22, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. ~Aldo Leopold
LFerrara June 25, 2012 at 03:03 AM
One year ago, KEITH WOLFF, PROPONENT of Kanine Kingdom said the following on the Patch: "There are multiple reasons why Happy Landings is not as good a location as Gurski: 1. Parking is more limited and yes it could potentially be expanded and remember that it is a state rd and we would need to go through the approval process. 2. There is a large area where drainage is poor where the park would be located. 3. The entrance would need to be improved to allow safer exiting and entering. 4. There are more residential homes in this area." So my questions to the dog park committee...Has the state agreed to the parking expansion? Has the drainage problem been corrected? Will your committee be paying for the entrance to be improved? And lastly, have the people all vacated their homes and moved away?

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