Economic benefits of protecting a watershed area:Connecticut's water supply is uniquely vulnerable to development. Rather than being stockpiled in several major holding areas, it is pulled from ground water and aquifers that flow under our communities. Polluted runoff is the single largest threat to water quality.
Simsbury’s major water supply is the aquifer underlying this property. As development increases, the quality of this water degrades. Additional filtration and treatment is very expensive and reoccurring.
Source protection and contaminant prevention are the most effective and economical ways to preserve water quality and quantity. The Ethel Walker property is centered on a major aquifer and contains well recharge areas. It is a vital and sensitive water source that we need to protect.
Economic value of open space:Municipal services for a large subdivision are extremely costly, and can necessitate tax increases.
Corporations look closely at quality of life issues when deciding where to locate.
Open space is a major determinant of quality of life.
Several Connecticut towns have enjoyed higher bond ratings due to their commitment to managing growth and maintaining open space.
As stewards of the school, the Board of Trustees has a responsibility to retain outstanding faculty, attract the best students, and shepherd the various resources of the school. It is a particularly important strategy to market and enhance those features that make a school unique, and it is clear that unique features of Ethel Walker attract students. For example, they are one of only a few all-girl non-denominational equestrian schools in New England. This puts Ethel Walker in a niche of less than 1% of boarding schools.
Aside from this niche, the outstanding features of the Ethel Walker School are the breadth and quality of its equestrian program and the large and beautiful wooded campus – both far above average. Keeping this outstanding feature while realizing financial gain (by selling the development rights) is good stewardship. Preservation enables its permanent use for advertising and recruiting as well as equestrian activities. In addition, the property could be used for ongoing, sustainable economic benefits such as hosting major cross country equestrian events and attracting summer conferences.
The proposed “equestrian trail” that is planned in the development will serve a very limited purpose, will not permit the range of flexible riding options (and freedom!!) that the current woods enable, will forever eliminate this flexibility within their equestrian program, and will permanently reduce the size of their currently outstanding campus to an average value among other boarding schools.
The significance and worth of this wooded property will increase over time in both tangible and intangible ways. Retaining this asset, while realizing fair financial benefit to enhance the future of the school, shows a long term vision for the Ethel Walker School. Working towards preservation is in keeping with the important values and concerns of their devoted alumnae, students, parents and the surrounding community.