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Knowlton Parcel Information
February 2009

Dear Friends of Conservation,
 
I am pleased to let you know that funds for the balance of the Knowlton purchase were overwhelmingly approved at the town meeting on January 22, 2009 (for more information about the open space purchase, read below).  The Conservation Commission would like to thank those of you who were able to attend and vote your support and especially thank those who spoke eloquently and forcefully in favor.  It could be argued that in these times of economic crisis that this was not the time to purchase open space, but fortunately enough folks looked to the future positive economic and environmental benefits and voiced a resounding "aye". 

It will be months before surveys and legal documentation to comply with grant requirements can be completed and the purchase can be finalized.   After that, the Conservation Commission will begin developing a management plan and determining the passive recreational opportunities that meet DEP grant requirements and that will best serve Connecticut citizens.  We will let you know when we begin working on plans for the parcel so you can participate if you wish. 
 
Regards,
Peter Andersen, Chair
Willington Conservation Commission







January 2009

WILLINGTON HAS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO PURCHASE AND PRESERVE
A SIGNIFICANT PARCEL OF LAND!


Dear Willington Resident:

As you may know, the Town, through the efforts of the Conservation Commission, recently received a Department of Environmental Protection Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant of $306,250 toward the purchase of the 134-acre Knowlton Parcel on Mason Road.  The Knowltons have agreed to sell the parcel at a conservation price of $625,000.  The Town Meeting at 7:00pm on Thursday January 22 at the Old Town Hall on the Green, will be asking the Town to appropriate $330,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund for the balance of this purchase and associated expenses.   
 
The following are some points of information relating to this appropriation:
  • There is currently $400,000 in the Capital Reserve Fund earmarked for open space purchases.
  • There have been and will be legal and survey fees that will be paid in part from the Open Space Account, but the Town has also been promised $15,000 from Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust and $10,000 from Connecticut Forest and Parks Association towards the purchase.
  • This purchase has the support of the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Recreation Commission and the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission.
  • Currently the Town has approximately 2100 acres under permanent protection - about 9% of the town.  The 2006 Plan of Conservation and Development set a goal of protecting between 15% and 24% of our land as open space.  Preservation of the Knowlton property will be a significant step toward that goal.
Below are listed some of the features of this parcel that prompted the DEP to support this purchase with a grant:
  • This parcel together with the recently Town-acquired Talmadge Tract, the UConn Forest, and the Connecticut Forest and Park (North) Property will create 560 acres of contiguous forest land in the Fenton River watershed, and is located over an important aquifer that supplies the UConn campus.
  • The property contains a half-mile section of the Nipmuck Trail and has the potential for additional hiking trails as well as other passive recreational activities.
  • Conserving this parcel with over 4000 feet of frontage on a stonewall-bordered gravel road is in keeping with the Plan of Conservation and Development goal of preserving Willington’s rural character.  
  • Due to multiple co-occurring resources the parcel is in a Conservation Priority Area in the Town of Willington’s Natural Resource Inventory and Open Space Conservation Plan.

Please also consider the following points:  
  • By accepting this grant, Willington is nearly doubling its money toward the purchase price.  
  • If Willington does not follow through with this purchase, we may have trouble applying for any such grant in the future.  
  • We understand that by the DEP’s criteria, the Knowlton parcel rated #2 in the state for preservation priority.  
  • If not protected by this purchase, this parcel could easily be developed into 25 or more house lots.
We realize that although individuals, businesses and all levels of government will be facing difficult financial times in the immediate future, the opportunity to preserve a parcel of this size and having as many attributes as it does, should not be passed up.   With over $300,000 of state money available and with Town money that has been already set aside for this purpose, we ask that you come to the town meeting on January 22 and support this purchase.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Thank you.

Peter Andersen, Chair                                        Kathy Demers, Vice Chair
Willington Conservation Commission             Willington Conservation Commission
429-1276                                                              429-8384
andersen108@sbcglobal.net                            cdemers@mindspring.com