A year ago I learned that the beautiful field behind my house in Mount Pleasant was for sale. The property, 9.7 acres, is maintained by the town recreation department and hosts daily soccer games and practices. However, it was owned by Trident Academy, which occupies the front portion of the lot. In the ’70s, the Detyens family donated the property to build a school for students with learning challenges. The school, now facing financial difficulties, decided to sell both the building and property.
For those of us whose homes back up to the field, this news was heartbreaking. The field was where we met one another, where our kids play on the playground, where every year thousands of children (and adults) play soccer and basketball, where people jog, walk their dogs, picnic under big, old trees and watch sunsets.
Long, sad story, short — after one meeting with Mayor Linda Page and 10 months of emails to her and the entire town council, pleading for help to prevent the property from being developed, my neighbors and I never received a straight answer whether the town was considering buying the Trident property or not.
By February, the field and school had been sold to a developer.
Trident Academy negotiated a 10-year lease for half of the building. The other half will be torn down to accommodate 19 new houses. During a neighborhood meeting with the developer, the chairman of the Trident board revealed to us that the town of Mount Pleasant was contacted first about purchasing the property but were not interested.
This housing development, however, is contingent on the Mount Pleasant Planning Commission and Town Council amending the Comprehensive Plan future land use map by changing the Trident property’s current zoning designation, R-1 institutional, to R-1 low density residential.
The Planning Commission vote is scheduled for today — with a town meeting on May 10. Some of us have started a petition urging the Planning Commission, council and mayor to reconsider the benefits of this beautiful green space, vote against the zoning change, stop the development and purchase and keep it open in perpetuity for the residents of Mount Pleasant.
I understand that this is private property, and the school had every right to sell it.
What I don’t understand is why my town government isn’t scurrying to find the funds to protect and invest in this space, and others like it, for our children, our growing community’s health and quality of life.
They have to know that when it’s gone (barring a horrific natural disaster), it’s gone forever.