Save the Sound attended the hearing with a large group and beforehand, organized a rally with members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, and other advocates urging GSA to conserve Plum Island.
With a backdrop of the sun setting over the Connecticut River and Plum Island visible in the distance, we joined with a bipartisan group of people, including Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2), State Senator Andrea Stillman, State Representative Marilyn Giuliano, Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Sandy Breslin from Audubon Connecticut, David Sutherland from The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut, and Lou Burch from Citizens Campaign for the Environment, to share our message: that we want a sale that conserves the approximately 750 acres of undeveloped land on Plum Island.
After the rally, we moved into the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa for the public hearing. It began with GSA explaining the DEIS and their methodology. After 45 minutes and a short break, public testimony began. There were some very impassioned speakers, all who shared the same message- Plum Island must be conserved, not sold to the highest bidder!
We compiled some of the highlights of the testimony that was given last night below.
“It is a beautiful stunning place and I don’t want to ever see that go away. I wish people like the public could go out there and see it.”
“It’s sort of like selling your mother. I mean, how much is she worth?”
“This is ours, and there should be no price to it.”
“Selling Plum Island does not seem to be a just reward.”
“Plum Island is a globally significant nesting habitat and foraging habitat.”
“It is such a jewel, it’s unbelievable.”
“We’re custodians…please, gentlemen, look at the long term.”
“I don’t hear anyone arguing in favor of a golf course… It sounds like we’re all on the same page.”
Here is the statement we put out at the hearing:
“Plum Island has been identified for protection by our highest state and federal authorities due to its tremendous ecological value and recreational potential,”said Leah Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound. “Despite the initial response from elected officials and the public and voluminous data highlighting the need to preserve vital portions of Plum Island, GSA’s DEIS still recommends auctioning Plum Island off to the highest bidder—without conditions that conserve valuable habitat. This runs counter to the demonstrated governmental interests in preserving this unique Long Island Sound gem.”
“While the DEIS mentions conservation opportunities as a part of its alternatives analysis, it abdicates responsibility for establishing conditions for any sale based on the findings of these alternatives. Instead, it chooses to foist that burden onto New York state and local authorities once a full-scale development is threatened,” stated Charles Rothenberger, an attorney with Save the Sound. “Between now and the issuance of its Final EIS, we urge GSA to adopt the approach that will accomplish both a full transfer of the island and the protection of its vast undeveloped lands, in fulfillment of statutory requirements—a conservation sale.”
There have been some great news stories and videos circulating from last night. Below are a few links to the stories:
New London Day: Plum Island Advocates Speak Out Against Proposed Sale
New Haven Register: Plum Island Preservation Urged at Public Hearing
Connecticut Post: Fate of Plum Island Debated at Public Hearing
Associated Press: US Plan to Sell Plum Island Questioned in Connecticut
If you weren’t able to attend the hearing but still want to submit testimony, you have until October 26 to get your testimony to GSA.
You can submit your comments via:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Mail: Phil Youngberg c/o John Dugan, GSA, 10 Causeway Street, Room 925, Boston, MA 02222.
Posted by Rebecca Kaplan, director of communications for CFE/Save the Sound