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Y Downtown Stalls Meeting on New Y

Y Downtown, a citizens group protesting the location proposed for the new YMCA, chalked up a small victory on Wednesday night. It forced the Board of Selectmen to cancel a special meeting that had been called to consider traffic patterns in the area.

Iain Bruce, co-chair of the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s Board of Directors, said that Y Downtown “complained about the timing.” Its members argued that the traffic plan had been posted too hastily for them to review the documents and prepare comments for a public hearing, if there was to be one.

Y Downtown has fought the YMCA board at every turn. The new building is slated for a site at Y’s Camp Mahackeno, near exit 41 on the Merritt Parkway. The protestors say that’s a low-density, environmentally-sensitive residential area and should stay that way. They want the Y to stay in the downtown area. The Y says that there are no suitable sites.

Indy Goldberg, one of the organizers of Y Downtown, was relieved that the meeting wasn’t held. “The announcement said they would, "approve changes," which indicated there wasn’t going to be a proper public hearing,” she said.

Bruce said there are legitimate concerns about traffic in the Mahackeno area. In his opinion, YMCA’s plans address those issues adequately. The Connecticut Department of Transportation has the final say because state highways are involved, but it will take the town's opinion into consideration.

Goldberg said her group has documents showing that the original plans have been altered. She wants a public hearing to discuss what changed and why.

Earlier this week, Y Downtown and the YMCA board of directors appeared before Judge A. William Mottolese in Stamford Superior Court. Y Downtown filed a challenge to the project, claiming that the Conservation Commission failed to follow its own rules in approving the building's septic system plans.

The Representative Town Meeting is also a defendant, for upholding the conservation recommendation, 18 -17. Mottolese has 120 days from hearing the case to render a decision.

Another lawsuit has been filed against the Planning and Zoning Commission's 5-2 approval. Bruce said that case has not been placed on the docket yet. If the conservation ruling goes against the YMCA, it will make all other decisions invalid.

Y Downtown is seeking donations to keep its legal battle rolling forward. It's a volunteer organization, but contributions are not tax deductible. Checks should be mailed to Y Downtown, c/o Indy Goldberg, 12 Rice’s Lane, Westport, CT, 06880.

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