Letter To The Editor: Ridgefield Winter Club
As a 15 year-plus resident of Ridgefield, my wife, three young boys and I have been fortunate to benefit from all that our wonderful town has to offer. Like you, we treasure the sense of community and comradery we feel in our schools, parks, library, and all across town. This culture has inspired me to build the Ridgefield Winter Club to add to the amazing offerings of this town.
I – along with several other neighbors here – are excited about the opportunity to give back through the addition of a winter recreation center.
The Ridgefield Winter Club will combine a strong family-focused premier facility with an outdoor ice skating rink. It fills a void in our town for families who want the opportunity for outside winter sports, recreation, and social events.
Since the inception of zoning laws in Ridgefield, additional uses have always been allowed in residential areas. By design, this has allowed Ridgefield’s planners to enrich neighborhoods, build character, and improve our quality of life by including schools, churches, parks, ballfields, golf courses, pool clubs, and recreational facilities all within residential areas.
That’s the case here too. In fact, the site we’ve identified for the Club is currently zoned to allow just this type of facility -- and that's one of the reasons we picked it. We know how important it is to maintain Ridgefield’s neighborhoods, and this Club will actually transition the commercial business that’s on the property now (technically, a non-conforming use of the land) into a use that is in keeping with the law and the intent of the law -- and is not "spot zoning".
So working with the best architects and designers in the business, we will turn the old, abandoned Pinchbeck Nursery into an attractive facility in keeping with Ridgefield’s character that parents and children will enjoy for years to come. Our plans feature a beautifully landscaped setting with an apple orchard at the front entrance, the restoration of the historic stone barn that has been there for decades, and a range of other amenities.
At the same time, the input that my fellow Ridgefielders have is important to me -- and to this project. Your emails, letters, and comments have been very much appreciated. And we continue to incorporate that thinking into this project to ensure that concerns about traffic, parking, lights, and noise are answered.
I’m proud to help create what will be a family-focused, social, and interactive environment that will enhance the neighborhood and Ridgefield during the winter. As a local club, there is a lot we’re going to do, and some things we won’t do, including running a competitive travel hockey program or hosting other travel hockey teams and tournaments. We’re also going to limit the hours, the months, and the usage of the Club and ice rink. This is a Winter Club and will be closed during the warmer months.
The Club will also bring jobs to our neighbors and increase the taxes that this property generates by an estimated five times, especially important at a time when Hartford is cutting back on its aid to towns across the state.
The Ridgefield Winter Club will be a great asset for our town like the many pool clubs, ballfields, and other recreational facilities that we benefit from and so enjoy. It will be one more positive differentiator for Ridgefield compared to all other towns in Fairfield County.
I am excited and look forward to sharing further details over the weeks to come. As we move forward, we’ll continue this conversation as part of the regulatory process and with our community.