Big Box vs. Public Park: Will A.W. Stanley Park and Golf Course Get Malled?

A public hearing and meeting of the Common Council on June 7th and June 8th are expected to stir strong debate on the proposed siting of a COSTCO store on the white nine of the 27-hole Stanley Golf Course. The plan calls for relocating two golf holes across the street on a pristine parcel of A.W. Stanley Park.
The COSTCO store would be built adjacent to the Target Store — a development approved by the Common Council in 1999 which involved the abandonment of single family homes on Glen Carlyn Road and an earlier alteration of the golf course. The Target project did not involve the taking of any of the wooded park across the street.
The ninth hole of the White Nine at Stanley Golf Course is behind
 this public hearing sign. It is the proposed site of a new
COSTCO store on the edge of New Britain.
This slim corridor of New Britain real estate at issue has a particularly high value for retailers. It is down the street from the 138-store Westfarms Mall and the Corbins Corner shopping center that intersect on Farmington and West Hartford land — towns that gain all the tax revenue from those sprawling shopping areas. Proponents are pushing the conversion for economically-distressed New Britain to gain tax revenue and jobs at the expense of open space and a radical change to the golf course.
The Friends of Stanley Park, a group of residents and preservationists, are opposing development that would take out a portion of the wooded park and wetlands area amounting to destruction of space long held in a land trust.
“A. W. Stanley Park’s wooded areas provide valuable habitat for wildlife, with over 150 species of birds and diverse plant life,” says the Friends’ group on their Facebook page. “The woods are used by local residents for recreational walking and running, observing and photographing wildlife, and simply enjoying time in natural surroundings. The woods provide sound barriers to traffic noise from Route 71, help to filter and purify the water supply to the pond they surround, remove greenhouse gases from the air, supply oxygen, and cool the surrounding neighborhoods.” Opponents urge that the city use development parcels in other parts of the city to grow the grand list and develop job opportunities.
The Zoning hearing of the Common Council will be held Tuesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. in the second floor Council Chambers at New Britain City Hall, 27 West Main Street.