Thursday, April 24, 2003
Farrell Invites Valley Towns to Join Anti-Recognition Coalition
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell, who is getting attention outside the area with her Bridgeport economic initiative, has raised her state-wide profile a little higher.
Now shes invited Valley towns to join the Fairfield County Coalition battling any future Indian land claims.
TodayҒs New Haven Register reported that Farrell sent a letter to officials in Derby, Milford, Stratford, Monroe and Shelton, inviting them to participate in the effort.
According to her letter, the coalition was formed last year by Fairfield County officials “in order to pool resources to challenge the Golden Hill Paugaussett and Schaghticoke applications for tribal recognition.”
Both tribes were denied recognition by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs within about a month of each other in December 2002 and this January. But they are still interested in federal recognition, which opens the door to development of casinos.
In her letter, Farrell said the five towns could be targets of land claims, the newspaper reported. “The issue of Golden Hill Paugaussett tribal recognition is especially pertinent,” Farrell wrote.
The Register quoted Westport Town Attorney Ira Bloom as saying Westport is worried more about tribal recognition than land claims. He said the possibility of a casino in Bridgeport, which had been proposed by the Paugussetts, would drastically increase traffic in Westport.
“Weve had an ongoing concern about the impact of a casino in Bridgeport on the traffic in the area,” said Bloom. “ThatҒs been our most immediate concern but there remains a concern as to whether land claims will be asserted.”