Open space at Fairfield Metro RR site no longer open
Updated 6:17 am, Friday, November 15, 2013
The 10-acre open space created next to the Fairfield Metro train station has been closed to the public.
The Conservation Commission voted at its Oct. 17 meeting to close the area based on a recommendation from Conservation Director Thomas Steinke, who said the property should not have been opened yet for public access.
The area has boardwalks wending through wetlands that Steinke said are regulated by the town, and should be maintained by the private developer, Black Rock Realty, which partnered with the town on the rail project. There are entrances at Kenwood Avenue and off Ash Creek Boulevard, across from the entrance to the train station lot.
There are three issues that prompted Steinke to shut off public access at this time.
The first, he said, is that the town's contractor is still doing "finish work" at the site. "Some of the plantings didn't take, and some of the grass seed didn't germinate," he said. In addition, sediment and erosion-control measures that were in place during construction now need to be removed and some smaller stones in the rip rap need to be replaced.
The second issue, he said, is the lack of any rules and regulations that spell out hours the property is open and what is, and is not, allowed, such as bicycles and dogs.
The third is a final plan from the developer for maintaining the open space area, according to Steinke. The open space is owned by Black Rock Realty, although the town was granted a conservation easement for its open-space status.
"We're looking into the matter," said John Fallon, the lawyer for Black Rock Realty, adding that the developer will work with both the conservation staff and commission to resolve any questions or concerns.
"This should have all been done first before people started using it," Steinke said. He noted that there was no formal notice or ceremony to mark the opening of the site, adding that it was only once his office began getting calls from neighbors that they realized it was being utilized.
Those calls, Steinke said, were often about young people riding motorbikes on the boardwalks. In fact, he said, some railings broken by the bikers have already had to be replaced. Black skidmarks have marred the decking in same places, he added.
"You go in and find out it's a very attractive property," Steinke said, "and it had no rules to live by."
The Conservation Commission will discuss regulations for the Fairfield Metro open space during December and January, according to Steinke, with a goal of conducting a formal opening ceremony in the spring, once the rules are adopted.
email@example.com; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost