September 26, 2012
Gov. Malloy, Attorney General Jepsen: Agreement Will Preserve Hundreds Of Acres As Open Space In Sprague
Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Attorney General George C. Jepsen today announced that the state will enter an agreement to preserve 230 acres of open space in the towns of Sprague and Franklin. The acreage is part of the Watson Estate, a large expanse of agricultural fields, streams and wooded areas that abuts the Shetucket River.
The agreement effectively satisfies more than $420,000 in state liens against the property while ensuring that the property will not be exposed to development, in accordance with the family’s wishes and the state’s goal to preserve open space.
“In many instances, the preservation of open space is a once in a lifetime proposition because once it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Governor Malloy. “The agreement we’re announcing today will make sure that residents have access to this land for generations to come. I want to congratulate the town of Sprague for taking the steps necessary to make today’s announcement a reality.”
“This agreement is a win for the state, the Town of Sprague and Connecticut residents,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “The likely alternative is that this property would have been sold and developed privately. Instead, this area will be preserved in perpetuity, and will be available for the public to appreciate and enjoy long into the future. I’m very pleased to have been able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement in this case.”
Through the agreement, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will award the Town of Sprague a $276,000 land acquisition grant with which to purchase the property; the town will contribute an additional $18,000, for a total purchase price of $294,000, and will own the property at the transaction’s completion.
DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, “We are pleased that the Town of Sprague has moved forward to purchase this property, which is rich with natural resources and wildlife and has a high conservation value. This purchase is yet another example of the benefits of Connecticut’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program, which has provided funding to support important local open space purchase in many communities across our state.”
A small portion of the property that includes a house will be retained by relatives, who currently reside there. The property was appraised in 2010 as having a fair market value of between $517,000 and $551,000.
The sale was approved by the probate court Tuesday morning, and the Sprague Board of Selectmen voted overwhelmingly in support of the deal this past Monday evening.
“The Town of Sprague is ecstatic that we have been able to work together with the governor and the attorney general on this important piece of land preservation,” said Sprague First Selectman Catherine A. Osten. “We are very appreciative of the support of both the Governor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office in making this happen. This allows us to have over 510 acres saved in perpetuity for the public’s enjoyment. We’re absolutely thrilled.”
The Watson Estate borders the 270-acre Sprague Land Preserve, which was also purchased with a state land acquisition grant in 2005, increasing the size of the contiguous preserved property to approximately 500 acres. The public will have walking access to the new acquisition.
Connecticut’s open space includes land purchased by the state and land purchased by municipalities and conservation organizations, often with state financial assistance. These purchases are helping Connecticut meet its open space goal of protecting 21 percent of Connecticut’s land – or 673,210 acres – by the year 2023. Through state and local open space purchases, Connecticut is now 73 percent (493,452 acres) toward achieving this goal.