BRISTOL -- The City Council has authorized Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu to apply for a state grant to buy three parcels of land in the north end of town to preserve as open space.
The Open Space and Watershed Acquisition grant program, through the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, would reimburse the city up to 75 percent of the purchase price, said Zoppo-Sassu.
The three parcels, totaling about 35 acres, are located behind the Barnes Nature Center and the city-owned Riley Field/Seymour Park, including the horse farm, off Shrub Road, she said.
“Open space is something that once it’s gone it never comes back, so the city has done a very good job over the last 25 years in acquiring as many parcels as possible when it became available and investing in those resources,” she told the council.
It is also partly over the Burlington town line and close to a residential neighborhood, she noted. “We believe it would be a great fit for the neighborhood, because it’s a very low traffic area, we would not like to see that change. We also like it because of the ecological aspects of it as well as its very close proximity to a park and existing open space.”
She said the city is talking to the Town of Burlington, “looking for cooperation and collaboration from our neighbors to the north, and I think that they are interested in supporting our application as well.”
No grant is a sure thing, Zoppo-Sassu commented, “but because we are what’s called a ‘distressed municipality’ we could receive up to 75 percent reimbursement on our purchase.”
“We are excited about the potential of preserving this land due to the ridge line and other ecological characteristics, as opposed to seeing it developed as housing,” she said.
The Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut, which runs the Barnes Nature Center, is partnering with the city on the application, she said. “If successful, the city will have an agreement with them to manage the open space to manage this passive recreation asset, which will be accessible to the public.”
The grant application is due Feb. 7, and the city would probably hear if it is accepted by mid to late spring, she said.
Councilor Greg Hahn said he has already gotten several phone calls from people who live in that area and are “enthusiastically in support of this.”
Joshua Medeiros said he has been contacted too by supporters wondering if it was best for them to sign a petition or send individual letters.
Last week when city officials were getting close to negotiating a price for the parcels, a letter was sent out to notify nearby residents, Zoppo-Sassu said.
“If anybody from that neighborhood, or from the community in general who supports open space acquisition, wants to have a letter of support included in our grant application they can address it to the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and send it to my office,” she said.
Letters should have an original signature, or if they are emails they should clearly show the email address and possibly a street address or phone number, she said. “We would need this by Feb. 1.”
For more information on submitting a letter, call the mayor’s office at 860-584-6250.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.