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Borough Accepts Grant for Andrew Mountain Land Purchase

The state has given Naugatuck a large chunk of money to help offset the purchase of 146 acres, which protects the land from probable development.

Editor's Note: The Board of Mayor and Burgesses officially accepted this grant during its regular board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. 

Original Story Published in Patch earlier in 2013:

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. 

Shan B. January 04, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Does anyone know if any of the space will be used as a large enclosed dog park where they can run around leash free? It is a long ride to the dog park in southbury.
SuperDave January 04, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Don, I agree with you about houses to a point.. But we are not talking about housing here as the best alternative, even though that is better than open space developed and maintained by the town. You are better off letting land sit there undeveloped that to create open space that just sucks up tax dollars. The real win would be taxable businesses, but that will never happen. What we will become is a highly taxed town able to walk around in the woods. Actually, what happens is people from other towns come here to us Naugatuck open space for free while we residents pay. Reminds me about how I thank my poor overtaxed inlaws in West Haven who pay huge sums to maintain their open space, namely beaches, while I drive down there and use them for nothing. Farsightedness? Unrealistic is more like it. I really don't get how this town keeps buying land and does nothing but sink money into it. It a huge risk, and a gamble that if lost will mean ever increasing taxes.
Ronald J Merancy January 04, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Shan B .... I know there was sose talk about finding a location for an enclosed dog park. Rocky Vitalie ( hope I spell his last name correctly ) was spearheading the effort. There are some issues that come up, such as, who is going to maintain the park, maintain the fencing, enforce the rules, pay for the proper insurance that would be needed, is this the "proper" way to spend taxpayers money etc etc
Ronald J Merancy January 04, 2013 at 07:25 PM
I am sure all this property on Andrew Mountain Road was "taxed" at the lowest possible tax rate, e.g. open space/farm land, so it is not like it was generating a lot of tax revenue. By taking this property off the market, the "tax advoidance" or "cost advoidance" is worth much more in the long run and is the best use of the land. Don Carten hit the nail on the head in his comments, the only thing I will add is that 280 or so more housing units would probably have created the need to build a New Fire House along with the associated costs, and water would piped in as there are only wells up there now, plus a sewer line would probably be needed as there is currently only septic up there as well. More house = more infrastructure costs and maintainence, not to mention the burden on the school system
Vox Populi January 04, 2013 at 09:45 PM
If that land were to be used for commercial development, the town would probably have to spend at least $5 million just building roads up to that property that could support two lanes of commercial vehicles......

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