The borough has been awarded a state grant of $315,250 to offset the cost of purchasing more than 100 acres of open space on Andrew Mountain.
Last year, the that abuts the Naugatuck State Forest. Of that, a little more than 100 acres will be used for passive, outdoor recreation - hiking and walking trails, etc. - and a majority of the rest of the area will be used for active recreation recreation - football, soccer, baseball fields, etc.
In effect, the purchase protects the borough from the likely scenario that a developer would build a large subdivision on the land. Within the past five years, a developer proposed and received approval for roughly 280 homes to built on that land but the proposal has since lapsed as construction did not begin. Once that happened, the borough made a push for the property.
Borough Planner Keith Rosenfeld, who wrote the grant application with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the acquisition of the parcel is great for future of the borough.
"In our grant application, we used public documents, provided by potential developers, to show that their own studies have determined this area to be filled with pristine and beautiful wetlands," he said. "Once we get all of the pricker bushes and invasive species out of the area, we're going to have 100 acres of pristine beautiful environment for people to enjoy."
In granting the funding request, which was for an undetermined amount, the state said in a news release that the Naugatuck property is "characterized by a forested rolling topography, several open agricultural fields, a depression area that seasonally floods and several large wetland areas. The property is bisected by Spruce Brook, a tributary to the Naugatuck River."
The grant was announced by Gov. Dannel Malloy as part of more than $9 million in Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grants that went to 35 communities, which all told purchased 2,732 acres to be preserved as open space.
“Land conservation is an important investment in our future, and moves us closer to meeting our goal of protecting 21 percent of Connecticut’s land as open space in the next 10 years,” Malloy stated in a news release. “These preservation projects are key to maintaining our high quality of life and making Connecticut a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”
The program, administered by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) assists land purchase using state bonds and funding from the 2005 Community Investment Act, according to the news release.
Land purchases help Connecticut achieve the goal to protect 673,210 acres of land by 2023, the news release states. It says that Connecticut has 496,182 acres designated as state or local open space lands, 73.7 percent of the goal. More than $109 million in state funding has been awarded to municipalities, nonprofit land conservation organizations, and water companies to assist in the purchase of 27,440 acres of land in 128 cities and town, according to the news release.
Naugatuck Mayor Bob Mezzo thanked the state for the grant. And he said the money will enable the borough to possibly pay off the remainder of the money it owes on the property within the next two years, a couple years ahead of schedule.