Voters OK Money For Open Space
By MARK SPENCER
November 8 2006
SIMSBURY –Open space advocates succeeded Tuesday in their drive to preserve land owned by the Ethel Walker School by committing $7 million in town money for the first phase of a two-part deal.
Several changes to the town charter also were approved in another ballot question.
In a close vote, residents approved spending up to $7 million – $5 million from bonding and $2 million from town reserves – which will be used to purchase 330 acres of the 420-acre parcel.
Although the fate of the land has been an issue in town for years, the current deal surfaced a few months ago, pitting residents who wanted to see it saved from development against those concerned about the cost. Opponents also decried what they called a lack of public information about the deal.
The total purchase price of the whole parcel is $13.9 million, but several other sources offered help. The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation organization, pledged $2.75 million. The town also has received $900,000 in state grants, which it can use to acquire open space.
The first part of the land deal has a March 2007 closing date, at which point the town also will set aside a $1 million deposit, securing an easement on the remaining property and locking in a price of $3.1 million for the remaining acreage.
In April 2012, the town would have to choose one of several options for completing the deal or lose the $1 million deposit. The changes to the town charter included requiring notice of capital improvements projects a year before a vote and changing the terms for land use commissions from six to four years.
Contact Mark Spencer at email@example.com.
Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant