The Aspetuck Land Trust has been awarded a $625,000 State grant that may make it possible for the Trust to acquire Weston's Fromson-Strassler property and preserve it as open space.
Governor Ned Lamont announced $9.1 million in grants to 24 Connecticut communities as part of the State's Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program, which is administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Funds were released by the State Bonding Commission in December.
In addition, The Nature Conservancy was awarded $602,000 to acquire property known as Weston Farms, 74 acres adjacent to Devil's Den. In October, we reported that the Conservancy had received a gift to complete the purchase. As we understand it from Nature Conservancy officials, that gift was akin to a bridge loan to expedite the purchase while State funds were in limbo and the grant application's fate was unknown.
“Open space is vital to environmental protection and a bright economic future for our state,” said Governor Lamont. He said the program "is an important component of preserving some of our state’s best and most beautiful land, and by partnering with our municipalities and nonprofits we can ensure that these valuable resources are preserved in perpetuity for generations to come."
Aspetuck Land Trust still has a way to go before the organization can take title to Fromson-Strassler. The grant requires matching funds, which ALT will have to raise. Terms and a purchase price remain to be negotiated between the Trust and the Town. The matter will ultimately require approval by voters in a Special Town Meeting.
As much as possible of the path has already been cleared. In December of 2018, the Board of Selectmen essentially agreed in principle to sell Fromson-Strassler to Aspetuck Land Trust if the right deal could be struck. The Planning and Zoning Commission voted in favor in January of 2019, and the Board of Finance also expressed support. (Related story and photos.)
"If we do sell," First Selectman Chris Spaulding said at the time, "there will be a deed restriction that it can never be developed. It will be open space forever.”
Upon receiving word of the award this week, Dr. Spaulding said, "I'm delighted. This is an exciting opportunity to protect and preserve more open space in Weston, one of the most appealing qualities of our Town. I thank the governor and DEEP for making this award, and wish Aspetuck Land Trust great success going forward."
December 22, 2018: "Town to Consider Sale of Fromson-Strassler"
January 16, 2019: "Full Speed Ahead on Fromson-Strassler"