To the Editors:
According to Ambler Farm’s 990 for 2017, there were gross receipts of $799,074 and assets of $1,092,102. Hardly a little sum for animal husbandry educational value to the town. Ambler Farm in its present state is a real Wilton treasure.
We keep hearing that Ambler Farm needs to expand to survive (paraphrased) thus the attempt to break the original promises made to the town residents.
If Ambler Farm would like to raise more revenue, I would like to recommend two ways of doing so;
Robin Clune, executive director, should put more focus on fund development and grant writing. Any volunteers with fund development expertise?
Expand the use of the Elizabeth-Raymond Ambler Trust of which both Dr. David F. Clune and David K. Clune are paid trustees.
According to their 2016 990, there was over $7,000,000 available for educational purposes. In 2015, the trust granted $210,000 over three years for Ambler Farm restoration so there is precedent. Of note also is that the trustees’ payout was $111,000 in 2016 vs. $33,000 when the trust was first created: amblertrust.org.
There have been too many “unknowns” in the past that town taxpayers keep footing town insiders’ pet project bills. Most recently was the $2,200,000 bonding in 2013 for the Keiser property easement. We were told that we would enjoy public access to a beautiful habitat.
According to The Bulletin 10/21/2013, Ms. Sesto stated… “The easement strips the property rights down to almost nothing, excepting those things which aid the conservation of the land,” Ms. Sesto said at a September Board of Selectmen meeting. “We then go back and add restrictive rights to the easement to allow for agriculture and public access,” she said. Public access would include footpaths through the land, and the easement would also help with the preservation of the Norwalk River, which runs through it.
Reality is that this taxpayer investment has morphed into something very different with a very large house built with pretty vistas. There has been zero follow up for public access. We will be paying for this for 20 years. Ambler Farm is now wading into the realm of “unknowns” with an attempt at enhanced commercialization rather than remaining a town treasure. Enough is enough.
Kevin Hickey
Wilton, March 31