GROTON –The Groton Town Council has issued a proclamation praising Charles and Priscilla Pratt for their role in the 32-year-long struggle, recently concluded successfully, to add 57 acres to the Haley Farm State Park. A press release on the addition follows this item.

Mayor Frank O’Beirne Jr. read the proclamation at the June 18 Town Council meeting. The statement also commended the Pratts and GOSA for “their never-ending desire, dedication, and hard work to preserve open space in the Town of Groton.”

As Mrs. Pratt accepted the award on behalf of her late husband, herself and GOSA, Mayor O’Beirne quipped that he hoped the next open-space acquisition wouldn’t take 32 years. Mrs. Pratt, who is president of GOSA, responded that 32 years, long though it was, is insignificant in comparison to the future time that visitors will enjoy the protected land. She also recalled a favorite quote of her late husband from the French writer Victor Hugo:

“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”

The text of the Town Council proclamation follows:

WHEREAS, the State of Connecticut has acquired an additional 57 acres of open space adjacent to the picturesque Haley Farm State Park, north to the boundary of the Robert E. Fitch Senior High School; and

WHEREAS, the expanded park will offer passive recreation, such as bird-watching, bicycling, jogging, and walking on trails that connect to the nearby Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve; and

WHEREAS, Charles and Priscilla Pratt spearheaded the effort for the State to acquire this property between Haley Farm and Fitch High School; and

WHEREAS, Charles and Priscilla Pratt moved to Noank in 1957, and Charles became a member of the first Noank Park Commission and later Chairman; and

WHEREAS, the late Mr. Pratt was a pioneering conservationist and founder of the Groton Open Space Association (GOSA), which led the way to the establishment of Haley Farm State Park in 1970, and his striking photographs of the farm’s natural beauty were instrumental in a statewide campaign to raise the private funds that, in conjunction with state and federal monies, were used to purchase the property; and

WHEREAS, as Press Secretary of the Bluff Point Advisory Council, Mr. Pratt was a leader in the citizens’ effort to make Bluff Point a coastal reserve, a designation affording a high level of protection to undeveloped land, and acting on recommendations of the Advisory Council, the Connecticut legislature created the Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in 1975 which remains the only coastal reserve on the East Coast; and

WHEREAS, the late Mr. Pratt was on the Baord of Directors of the GOSA, a member of the Noank Volunteer Fire Company, the Noank Historical Society, the Mystic Seaport, and the Connecticut River Museum, just to name a few; and

WHEREAS, the Groton Open Space Association now plans to focus its attention on other parcels in town that could be preserved as open space; NOW THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Town Council of the Town of Groton does hereby commend Charles and Priscilla Pratt and the Groton Open Space Association for their never-ending desire, dedication, and hard work to preserve open space in the Town of Groton.

Dated at Groton Connecticut this 18th day of June 2002.