Greenwich Conservation Commission celebrates 50 years

First Selectman Peter Tesei, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, state Reps. Livvy Floren and Stephen Walko and Selectmen David Theis and Drew Marzullo were part of a huge crowd wishing the Conservation Commission well on its milestone.

First Selectman Peter Tesei, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, state Reps. Livvy Floren and Stephen Walko and Selectmen David Theis and Drew Marzullo were part of a huge crowd wishing the Conservation Commission well on its milestone.

More than 50 well-wishers joined with William Rutherford, chairman, and his fellow Conservation Commission members and staff on Saturday, Sept. 13, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Conservation Commission.

The crowd included First Selectman Peter Tesei, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, State Reps. Livvy Floren and Steve Walko, who made presentations honoring the commission’s work, past and present. Mr. Rutherford, the longest serving member of the commission, was master of ceremonies for the event held at the Innis Arden Cottage at Greenwich Point.

“The first agenda of commission indicated that they were ready to respond to the immediate and emergency needs of the community,” Mr. Rutherford said. “This is very much like we do today. Although we continue to work on open space protection, responding to emergencies and emerging issues is what we do. An example is the dune restoration right here that was a public/private partnership between the Conservation Commission, Parks and Recreation, and the Friends of Greenwich Point.”

In his proclamation, Mr. Tesei said, “The Conservation Commission recognizes and reminds us that the protection of our natural and cultural resources is important for the maintenance of the town’s quality of life and sense of place. It is the town’s lead agency for open space preservation and from the beginning was instrumental in the protection of numerous properties including the Babcock Preserve, Great Captain’s Island, Mianus River Park, Laddin’s Rock Preserve, the Blake Coleman property, the Pomerance/Tuchman properties, Treetops, and Calf Island.”

In 1973, a concerted effort to establish a conservation commission as per state statute was led by Alan Kitchel Jr., Bobby Girdler and several of the soon-to-be commission members. In March 1964, the Representative Town Meeting endorsed the following members be appointed to the Conservation Commission: Daniel Badger, Chairman; Charles Clark, Vice-chairman and Treasure; H. Bridgman Griswold, Secretary; Faith Pleasanton; Clifton H. Hipkins; Edward Rose Jr.; and Edward Greene.

Former Greenwich First Selectman Lowell Weicker convened an organizational meeting shortly after and the commission immediately set to work identifying three pressing goals: protection of Great Captain’s Island, protection of 50 acres in the Byram River Gorge, and creating an index of the open space in Greenwich. They succeeded in all three endeavors.

“Greenwich has a tremendous legacy of volunteer environmental leaders. They were the folks that led the effort to create the Commission,” Conservation Director Denise Savageau said. “Greenwich still has residents leading conservation groups both locally and at a larger scale. The Conservation Commission remains an integral part of that conservationist network. We have always worked in public-private partnerships. It is one of our greatest strengths.”

Rutherford closed with these thoughts, “Although the faces have changed, 50 years later, the commitment and dedication of our members is still strong and our mission remains the same: to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of the town of Greenwich.”

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