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Aldermen Approve Purchase of 36 acres for Open Space

Two abutting parcels on Mohegan Road, at the intersection of Far Mill Street, will become part of Shelton's growing inventory of Open Space.

The Board of Aldermen has approved purchasing 36.2 acres of open space on Mohegan Road for $625,000.

The board, during its monthly meeting, unanimously voted in favor of buying the property, owned by Bank of America, which consists of two abutting parcels on Mohegan Rd., at the intersection of Far Mill St. One of the parcels boasts eight acres, while the other consists of 28.2 acres. Part of the property also abuts water company land.

The city plans to bond the purchase, spreading out two equal payments of $312,500 over the next two years.

The land purchase came highly recommended by the Conservation Commission, whose chairman said the property ties in with the commission’s master plan for open space acquisition.

“The Conservation Commission supports the acquisition of two abutting properties located on Mohegan Road,” said Thomas Harbinson, commission chairman, in a letter to the aldermen. “The properties have been ranked on our Quality of Life list for several years, and therefore fit in with our Master Plan.”

Harbinson said the city’s Conservation Agent Theresa Gallagher walked the property, and noted that it boasts a variety of “attractive and natural features, such as ledge outcrops, stone walls, streams and a wooded pond, in which a pair of Wood Ducks were spotted.”

Harbinson further noted the land has a wetland system that reduces flooding and improves water quality downstream, and also contains a number of plant species native to Connecticut. He also said the ridge tops and areas of ledge serve “as a natural screening” to the abutting neighborhoods of Dartmouth and Princeton drives to the east. An old woods road provides immediate access to the site for passive recreation, like hiking, according to Harbinson.

One area of the site, however, showed signs of heavy ATV use, Harbinson said, which is common with any vacant wooded property. He said efforts will need to be made to  prohibit this type of activity on the property.

Aldermanic President John Anglace said the purchase of the land was a no-brainer for the city, and will be available for residents to enjoy and use for passive recreation for many years to come.

“Absolutely, it’s a home run for Shelton,” Anglace said.

The commission, comprised of seven volunteers, maintains an inventory of more than 175 parcels of open space throughout Shelton. They are responsible for ensuring the public parcels are properly signed and not encroached upon by individuals dumping, clearing or harming the land.

Bryan Lizotte April 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Wow more Open Space!!! Let's spend more money on open space and less on education! Am I missing something here? I agree having an inventory of open space in Shelton is a good thing. However, when the city has to cut the education budget and lay off teachers is it worth it? Also it is a shame that the only thing that is happening with the current open space we have is walking trails. Enough of that! Lets start working to do something for all the residents. Trumbull and Monroe have developed their open space into awesome recreation areas for their residents. Oh but we are going to have a minuscule Tax decrease! Only a fool would buy into that! Numbers can be easily manipulated.
thomas harbinson April 18, 2011 at 10:21 PM
@bryan: spending $ on open space does not mean less is spent on education anymore than spending more on plowing roads this winter causes teachers to be laid off. While there is a limited pool of revenue from taxes, it isn't spending on "this" takes away from spending on "that" Though some open space is restricted to passive recreation, the community gardens and dog park are examples of providing varying opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Active recreation is often limited on acquired parcels due to funding partners and the character of the land, though lacrosse has played on Tall Farm for several yrs. Learn more about Conservation Commission at www.sheltonconservation.org
Teresa Gallagher April 21, 2011 at 01:10 AM
Bryan, what you are missing is that purchasing open space in a residential zone decreases taxes rates relative to if the land was subdivided. This has been proven repeatedly and is not in dispute. If houses are built, more kids are sent to our schools, at a cost of around $10,000 per child per year, in perpetuity. If the city did not buy the property, new homes on this 36 acre property might have, say, ten school-aged children. If that were the case, that's an addition $100,000 per year of educational services Shelton taxpayers would need to pay for, and the purchase would pay for itself in less than four years. Open space purchases are an investment that pays for itself. As to facilities, we do have them: Ballfields, walking tracks, dog park, handicapped-accessible multiuse recreational path (like the Derby Greenway), two community gardens, playgrounds, boating, and fishing. The only thing some other towns have that we don't is an outdoor swimming area, or someplace to camp.
Mark Holden April 23, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Theresa understated the benefit open space has on our taxes. With 36 acres, we'd probably end up with roughly 30 homes, and over 50 kids. Besides education costs, we'd have additional costs for road maintenance and plowing, trash collection, and fire hydrants. (Believe it or not, because we have a volunteer fire department, hydrants cost us more than running the fire departments.) I expect the new homes would cover more than 1/3 but less than 1/2 of the cost to provide services to the new residents. Open space purchases have been a great investment for Shelton.

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