By Lisa Meserole and Marie Meserole
NORWALK, Conn. – Abraham Lincoln first signed legislation to protect an area of wilderness in 1864. This was the beginning of one of our country’s great legacies: our parks. The permanent preservation of land as national, state, and local parks, forest reserves and wildlife sanctuaries is the result of visionary leaders and concerned citizens.
We, the citizens of Norwalk, have eight acres of woodlands, wetlands and nature trails in Oak Hills Park that are in danger of being lost to us and all future generations. Now is the time for the visionary leadership of Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant (our first national park was established under his presidency) and Teddy Roosevelt, whose contributions to land conservation in America are too long to list here. Now is the time to protect our local wilderness in Oak Hills Park.
• Do it for clean air and clean water, for cooler temperatures, reduction of flooding and erosion, and all the numerous gifts of mature trees.
• Do it to safeguard the natural habitats of the many species of wildlife that make this their home, and for the migratory birds that find sanctuary here every spring and fall.
• Do it for the Wood Thrushes that live and breed here because 50 percent of these songbirds have disappeared in the last 45 years with the destruction of deciduous forests.
• Do it for the foxes that run and the hawks that nest here.
• Do it because of all the public parkland we have in Norwalk, there are few untouched, accessible havens of wilderness and none like this one.
• Do it to honor our city’s natural history: the story of our land’s formation told in its rock ledges, the landscape a living memory of what Norwalk looked like to its first human inhabitants.
• Do it for beauty.
• Do it for a peaceful place to walk. Do it so your grandchildren have a peaceful place to walk.
• Do it for your health and well-being because studies show that spending time in nature can lower stress, increase self-esteem, aid concentration, reduce symptoms of ADHD and depression and promote speed healing.
• Do it for all the generations of trees who live together in mutually supportive families and communities sharing resources and nourishment.
• Do it because this is one the few places in our city where trees don’t have to be cut back or down for power lines, streets or homes.
• Do it because everything in these eight acres is alive. There is birth, growth, song and death happening here all the time. And that is sacred. And that deserves to be protected.
These acres of public parkland are not a business opportunity, nor are they real estate; they are life. Some of our most noted leaders understood this and we have all benefited, whether or not we know it, whether or not we love nature as much as we love playing the Oak Hills Golf Course, reading books from the Norwalk Public Library or watching the Fourth of July fireworks at Calf Pasture Beach. There is a way to permanently protect these beautiful hills of oak trees that give the park its name, and for the golf course to have a driving range. We just need leadership with the forethought and creativity to make that happen.
Now is the time. We have so much to lose and everything to gain.
Lisa Meserole and Marie Meserole
Mother and daughter