Representative Arthur J. O’Neill (R-69) appeared before the legislature’s Environment Committee last Friday in support of legislation that would preserve and protect land owned by the Southbury Training School, and ensure its continued use for agricultural purposes. The bill reinforces a long-standing commitment on the part of the state to preserve the property, and continue its agricultural use.
“This policy was originally placed in state statute as a result of legislation that I introduced more than 20 years ago,” said Rep. O’Neill. “Unfortunately the second purpose has not been fulfilled. For a number of years I have proposed legislation in keeping with the recommendations of the task force that studied the future use of Southbury Training School Farm and other state owned agricultural lands. The key recommendation of the task force was that a private party be given control over the land for the purpose of encouraging and facilitating long-term agricultural use. For a variety of reasons the state agencies charged with this task were unable to implement it. Partly this was a result of state leasing policies and partly a result of the fact that encouraging agricultural use of these lands was not a core mission of any of the agencies involved.”
O’Neill noted that the measure now has the support of the administration of Governor Dannel P. Malloy in moving forward. “I am very pleased that the Administration is now supporting the concepts contained in this bill,” he said. “This legislation will continue this legislature's long-standing policy commitment to preserving the Southbury Training School Farm. It will also, I hope, become a model, for the preservation and agricultural activation of the other lands all across our state which were identified in the task force report.”
O’Neill was joined by Roxbury First Selectman Barbara Henry, and Southbury Board of Selectman member Chad Landmon who also testified before the committee in support of the measure.
The bill, HB 6542, An Act Concerning the preservation of Farmland at the Southbury Training School, remains before the Environment Committee awaiting action. This session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourns on June 5th, 2013.