BZ opinion page policy
Letters to the editor must 400 words or less, single-spaced and flush to the left without indentation. No letters in CAPS or with BOLD words will be accepted. BZ has the right to edit letters as necessary.
To the Editor:
The First Congregational Church of Litchfield wants a zone change that would make it easier for additional commercial activity to be conducted on and in its real property. And, it would appear from the lawyer’s letter accompanying the zone-change application, the church is prepared to sue the town if it doesn’t get what it wants.
Jim Stedronsky, the new chairman of Litchfield’s finance board and the Borough’s former lawyer, is also the Congregational Church’s moderator and lawyer. In a letter to the Planning and Zoning commissioners, Jim explains why the church wants the zone change and warns that “the inability of the Church to re-adaptively use its property for these purposes, all associated with its missions, would place a substantial burden on the practice of its religion.” Re-adaptively indeed, the thin end of the wedge, the tip of the iceberg.
The “substantial burden” bit is pretty much straight out of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, the bipartisan ill-conceived, feel-good, dreaded, commonly abused RLUIPA. That’s the law Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County Inc. abused to shake down the Borough, which, having been slaughtered by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, now owes almost three-quarters of a million dollars to Chabad’s lawyers—and most of that to a Florida lawyer who boasted pro-bono representation.
It’s entirely and hopefully possible that Jim Stedronsky, being all too well acquainted with RLUIPA from the Borough’s misfortune, merely excerpted statute in a casual, non-threatening way, as lawyers will do. And, unlike the Chabad grifters, after all, the Congregational Church congregants are our friends and neighbors.
The Congregational Church can do and has been doing virtually anything it wants within the existing zoning. So why change it? The business of churches is religion, not commerce or real estate development. May it ever be thus, world without end.
In all events, it would be unseemly and unthinkable for a friendly and neighborly Litchfield institution to even consider extorting anything for any reason from its friends and neighbors . . .
Paul Mordecai Rosenberg
To the Editor:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but not for all of the families and children in Litchfield. Some of our families still need our help.
Back in the 1950s, Center School nurses noticed that there were several children without boots in the cold winter months. They, and the school principal, started a fund to help these children. They bought them new boots! At the time, the monies came from the Center School staff.
The Litchfield Children’s Fund still exists today, all these years later. The late BZ editor, Doug Parker, worked tirelessly for many years to keep it going. The funds still go to families who need help buying warm clothing for children. The Litchfield Public Schools nurses and social worker help determine those families who need some assistance.
Donations now come mostly from faithful contributors in the community. I ask for your help this year to keep this fund going. One-hundred percent of the funds go for children’s warm clothing. If you are interested in helping, donations can be sent to the Litchfield Children’s Fund, P.O. Box 774 in Litchfield. I thank you, in advance, for any help you could give.
To the Editor:
There was much talk during the recent elections about turning things around in Litchfield.
As regional trends go, so goes Litchfield. We know that Litchfield County's population is down more than 4 percent, with further declines forecast. Neighboring Torrington's student population has dropped from 4,800 to 3,800 in 12 years. We and other towns in the county face the same trends. Yet Litchfield has amongst the highest property taxes of any peer town.
Quality education for our students should be our number one mission. But our dollars are stretched too thin today, with educational spending representing 70 percent of our town budget. Class size per teacher is amongst the lowest in the state.
Spending more on teaching resources that directly benefit student learning and development, but spending less on administrative expenses and underutilized facilities seems to be the way forward.
1. Set forth a plan to deliver the highest education possible with a goal of better class offerings and achieving better test scores. Hold educators accountable.
2. Combine all the schools into a single campus (or two campuses) at the location of LIS and LHS (and Wamago) with regionalization the likely eventual outcome.
3. The Center School building has the most commercially viable alternative uses. Sell it.
4. Use the sale proceeds to repay the costs of consolidating the remaining schools.
5. Use any extra proceeds or savings to pay for the renovation of the existing Litchfield Town Hall.
We can get better schooling results and save money. It won't be easy and it won't be quick. We just have to posses the vision and the courage to do it.
To the Editor:
Like many people at this time of year, my mind turns to the things for which I am thankful. Of course, my family and health are at the top of the list, but each year, the town of Litchfield, my home for nine years, takes on greater importance.
From the way people come together in times of tragedy, to the standing room crowds at municipal debates or budget hearings, to our school system and breathtaking scenery, to the delightful events like Possum Queen and LEF Dodgeball, to OWL and the Historical Society, to KidsPlay and the Community Center and the Litchfield Pantry, to Father Tucker and Litchfield Tang Soo Do, and to simply sitting on a bar stool at the Village on a snowy day, there are so many reasons our town is extraordinary.
For the last few weeks as I drive to and from my office in the Depot, I could not help but notice the hard work that the Friends of the Litchfield Community Greenway are doing each and every day building a bridge over Butternut Brook. I see some folks that I know and many that I look forward to meeting and getting to know.
A bridge is a powerful symbol, especially as we enter the holiday season fresh off a local election cycle and with a polarizing national election awaiting us on the horizon. While the dictionary defines a bridge as "a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over a depression or obstacle," I prefer to look at it as a means of connecting or transitioning. To that end I recently attempted to build a "bridge" with some of the people I know.
While I was skeptical before I tried it, sitting down with someone with differing points of views than my own and listening intently and bridging a common ground along the way, is a very powerful experience. During this time of year, I encourage my friends and neighbors to try it; you have nothing to lose. You never know… you might just build another bridge in our community, and the world could sure use more bridges.