Rep. Murphy to focus on open space
By Steven Scarpa
Copyright © 2007 Record-Journal
Freshman U.S. Congressman Christopher S. Murphy, D-5th District, hopes to use his new leadership role in the House of Representatives to help protect the region’s precious open spaces. Murphy announced his appointment as chairman of the Congressional Open Space Caucus. Murphy’s role in the caucus will be to help the leaders of the House of Representatives craft legislation to protect open space across the country.
The position is Murphy’s first leadership role since joining the House after defeating long time Republican incumbent Nancy Johnson in November. He also serves on the Financial Services and Government Oversight Committees. Bipartisan caucuses don’t have the same power to craft legislation as congressional committees, but are often the first point of contact for advocates seeking to plead before the federal government. “It is still rare for freshman members to chair a caucus,” Murphy said Friday afternoon.
The Congressional Open Space Caucus had been slow over the past several years, Murphy said, but he plans to change that. “President Bush and the Republican Congress had no interest in funding land preservation programs. That needs rejuvenation,” Murphy said. Murphy has worked with other members of the House from the region to get money for the government’s Partnership for Wild and Scenic Rivers program. He also signed the New England National Scenic Trail Designation Act, which would extend the Metacomet Monadnock Mattabesett trail. “Being able to chair a caucus such as this puts me in the middle of the environmental debate that will happen in the House over the next two years,” Murphy said. State Rep.
Mary M. Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, pointed out that Murphy’s own hometown of Southington is experiencing a development boom that needs to be carefully managed. “That district is a fast growing area. For some folks the development is happening way too fast,” Mushinsky said. “We hope he can take a breath and see what is worth saving in the area before it disappears … If Chris can come up with some funds to make open space happen the area will have a nice mix of residential, commercial and recreational lands.”
Michael Brodinsky, a Wallingford Town Councilor and vice president of the Wallingford Land Trust, hopes to see some tangible local benefits from having Murphy tackle such an important issue. “I am glad he’s up there,” Brodinsky said. After Murphy get acclimated to his new duties, Brodinsky would like to see him come back to the district and hold meetings with local conservation commissions and land trusts. “I want him to lay out the possibilities for us,” Brodinsky said. “I think that is where it starts.” He would like to see what funding is available to municipalities from the federal government and to get a clear picture of what Washington can do in terms of protection for fragile land. “These are all things we can dream about,” Brodinsky said. “We can get to work on the grassroots level and help him out.” firstname.lastname@example.org (203) 317-2225