Our Thoughts on the Coalition for Westport's Joe Strickland
Sensible, sustainable planning and zoning that protects our residential neighborhoods is not a partisan issue. In fact, it unites all Westporters.
That’s why, for 39 years, Save Westport Now has supported candidates from both political parties, deciding each election cycle which slate of P&Z members is likely to have Westport residents' interests most at heart.
The only party in town that fundamentally disagrees with what we stand for is the Coalition for Westport, which was founded in 2012 by area developers who aim to elect development-friendly candidates to the Commission.
On Thursday evening, we sent the following email about the Coalition's Joe Strickland. While Joe’s involvement in public service is admirable, he is the wrong person to elect to the P&Z Commission
"At Monday's debate nearly all of Westport's P&Z Candidates agreed we need smart planning that preserves Westport's open spaces and historic and residential character.
The sole outlier?
The Coalition for Westport’s Joe Strickland, who suggested a need for two-story parking garages downtown and a desire to invite some developers (who also happened to be “his clients”) to submit proposals for the Baron’s South precious open space.
This is the same Joe Strickland who felt Coleytown Middle School was “unnecessarily abandoned” and said he had “little sympathy” for the families with students displaced by the CMS closure. (Coleytown Community Advisory Committee meeting 12/3/18).
Joe’s election to the P&Z would be a threat to the values most Westporters stand for.
The party that has put him forward, the Coalition for Westport, is the most pro-development party in town and lacks the record of defending residential neighborhoods that all three other parties have. Joe himself is a former commercial developer, as is the major funder of his campaign, and a quick drive around town to survey purple and yellow signs will tell you who the commercial property owners are supporting in Tuesday’s election.
A vote for Joe is a vote to give these commercial interests a seat at the P&Z table.
To be clear, Save Westport Now deeply appreciates the important role commercial parties play in contributing to our town and shaping its future. But developers have teams of lawyers and consultants looking after their interests—and the residents of Westport need advocates of their own: A P&Z comprised of individuals who will look after and protect their interests by planning effectively, enforcing our town’s carefully-crafted regulations, and ensuring that new development does not come at the expense of their quality of life.
Without thorough vetting, as well as enforcement of the existing regulations, residents will be shocked by overbuilding in their neighborhoods and losing the fundamental character of Westport that makes it the unique place we love.
That’s why we need P&Z Commissioners who will work diligently to ensure that commercial proposals are appropriate and beneficial to our community at large, don’t pose traffic and safety issues, or are otherwise inappropriate for areas zoned for single-family homes.
Cathy Walsh, Chip Stephens, Al Gratrix, and Jon Olefson have a proven track-record of doing just that, which you can read about here.
We hope you’ll join us in voting for them on the Save Westport Now line.
Paid for by Save Westport Now, Peter Swann Treasurer
Approved by Al Gratrix, Jon Olefson, Chip Stephens, and Cathy Walsh