Fairfield and New Canaan are among 17 Connecticut communities to receive grants for the purchase of open space under the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition program. Administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the program assists local governments and land trusts in buying open space while requiring a conservation and public recreation easement that will ensure that the property is protected for public use.
Located in the northeast corner of Fairfield, adjacent to the Merritt Parkway in a residential area, the 2.8-acre lot at 5655 Park Ave. abuts an existing 7.23-acre lot owned by the state Department of Transportation. The town is receiving $83,750 to buy the land within the Mill River Watershed, which includes wetlands and existing trails.
The New Canaan Land Trust is receiving $535,000 for the purchase of the Silvermine-Fowler Preserve, a 6.35-acre woodland lot that abuts the 41-acre Kelley Upland Sanctuary. The parcel contains a varied range of wildlife habitats including meadow, woodlands, wetlands, and a small pond. The existing house will be razed, with the infrastructure and driveway being used by the public for access with linkages to existing trails.
All told, $4.7 million in grants were awarded to buy 1,170 acres of open space. To date, Connecticut has more than 500,000 acres designated as state or local open space lands, close to 75 percent of its goal of protecting 673,210 acres of land by 2023.
In addition, the state announced that almost $50,000 was granted to assist in the creation or enhancement of community gardens in New Haven and Hartford.