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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. 

Pat Granahan January 03, 2013 at 01:39 PM
What a win for our children !!!!
SILENT WOLF January 03, 2013 at 01:41 PM
I'll be watching the development of this proposed project to see where it goes ...and how it will be kept up.Thus far Naugatuck doesn't have a good track record of keeping up with it's parks and town green...Sorry to hear that,well it's a fact. Just look around town , and of course new comers to our town are no help either, when they trash the areas.
Anna P. January 03, 2013 at 02:31 PM
It's a relief to know that Andrew Mountain will not be devoped. as it is, some speed down the center of the road like it's the Indy 500. Some day they're gonna have a head-on with some innocent sole around a blind bend. Thank you town planners for saying NO to a 280 home development up there.
SuperDave January 03, 2013 at 03:03 PM
The more land we take that will not have any revenue return will in fact will be an expense, and our taxes will go up. It is not good to continue to buy properties that will just sit there, either as empty lots or developed open land. Well, at least we don't maintain the empty lots! Who will pay the taxes to mainatin open land? Look in the mirror. This is not a win for anyone.
chris January 03, 2013 at 05:53 PM
At the Federal, State, and Local level, it is becoming more and more evident that Democrats cannot handle fiscal responsibilities. Period
Mr Mike January 03, 2013 at 10:56 PM
I'm with Super Dave! Less non-toxic land that can be built on so that taxes can be received from it! Instead of polluted locations requiring taxpayer dollars to fix before it can(maybe?) be developed and pay taxes. I can see it now - 140 or so acres of pristine land. Only trouble, town drove everyone out with outrageos taxes, then went bankrupt! That's ok - the animals love to roam on the 140 or so acres!!!!!!
Fatbob January 04, 2013 at 01:54 AM
It will be nice to have as a rec area but dont think they have put to much thought into what was buried up there...heard some old timers talk about that was where they brought all the muck from flood of 55...i would think its gotota be pretty contaminated
Silence Dogood January 04, 2013 at 02:32 AM
The town that just keeps spending our tax dollars! Lord knows we need the fields and parks but there will be no one left to use them because our taxes will continue to escalate to pay for them. Let's see if we can triple the town and BOE budgets by 2020.
Don Carten January 04, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Housing never pays for itself in taxes. The cost of additional schools, fire and police protection, as well as street maintanance far offsets any tax dollars collected from residential developement. The 280 home subdivision proposed for this land would have had a disastrous effect on town finances and even if the land were suitable for commecial development the idea that anyone would be foolish enough to build a large scale bussiness in Connecticut with our proven anti-bussiness climate is just a pipe dream. The state of the Peter Paul property is proof of that. I applaud our elected officials for their farsightedness in this matter.
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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