To the Editor:
1/ Email sent January 22, 2013, to fellow members of the Fairfield Hills Authority: An Idea
Dear All -
I would like to propose that we dedicate the whole campus of Fairfield Hills to a memorial park. I don't think there could be a more fitting response to the tragedy than to create such a park. Newtown could consider its name.
The buildings that need to be torn down would be torn down. There might need to be a referendum. The citizens of Newtown could decide. But the dangers of any present structures and contamination would be removed.
Newtown would have, now and in future generations, the unique value, peace and beauty of this incomparable property. No town or city I know of has ever come to regret a historical decision to preserve an area for this purpose. New York's Central Park and Boston Common come to mind.
I hope we, as members of the Fairfield Hills Authority will agree to recommend this proposal. Could you let me know what you think?
2/ Email sent January 23, 2013, to fellow members of the Fairfield Hills Authority: To Amplify
Thanks for the notes, John, Brian. I also got a lovely text from Pat Llodra. Afterthought:
Newtown has come to mean something more – to its citizens, our country, the world – than it meant before. The victims' families, others most acutely affected, are our neighbors, friends. But distant people care, too, and so will history. We all sense that. It becomes more clear, not less, with the passage of time.
When future generations, even the present one, ask, Well, what did you do? There will be many warm, creative, honorable answers we can give – one by one and together – about various thoughtful acts, to help and remember. But if they ask, “What did you do with this lovely, intact piece of land you were blessed with?”, we don't want to answer, “You see, it was hazardous, we had to get rid of it – in pieces, on the model, most recently, of cluster slum dwellings in the city of Atlanta.”
In early 2013, we were offering 99-year leases, at a dollar a parcel, in exchange for demolition of hazards. I don't think that answer is worthy anymore. We are still the same town, but citizens from everywhere will come to look at this place, to try, for a long time, to understand something important. Pat and others have used the word sacred. The space entrusted to us has its own integrity – peaceful and beautiful, fields for walking, playing, thinking. There is nothing quite like it.
Let's preserve that integrity. The problem has changed, that's all. Parks, as long as they are not encumbered with buildings or businesses, have always brought literal, financial profits to cities they are in. There are other rewards. Maybe all the years of effort, good faith, exasperation were destined to keep open an important trust and an opportunity. There won't be a chance to create a park or memorial like this again.
Member Fairfield Hills Authority
198 Hattertown Road, Newtown February 27, 2013