Town finalizes 2 open space purchases; $1 million left

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After residents voted to approve $2 million in spending for open space land in the November 2015 election, the town finalized two purchases last month.

At a meeting of the Town Council on April 11, Town Attorney Mark Sciota announced the purchase of 17 acres of open space land on East Street and the development rights for Hawk’s Landing Country Club.

The two purchases totaled just over $1.3 million, and Sciota said that the town is close to finalizing a $420,000 purchase on the Southington-Cheshire line. With additional money still left over from previous budgets, Sciota said that the town still has approximately $1 million remaining to spend on open space.

The 108 East Street property was part of a 20-acre parcel owned by the Johnson family, who Sciota said “was very happy to be keeping this property open.”

The town applied for a state grant to purchase 17 acres of land from the Johnsons, for $650,000 and was awarded a $318,000 grant. That meant that the total cost to the town was $332, 000.

The East Street property has a stream running through it, and the property neighbors the Holmquist parcel on Kensington Road. With the purchase by the town, the property will be used for passive recreation with a small area included for parking.

In addition, the town finalized their purchase of the development rights for Hawk’s Landing on Pattonwood Drive for $975,000. The property will still operate as a golf course to be maintained by its current owners, but the purchase of these rights means the land cannot be used for commercial or real estate development.

Any changes to the property’s use must be approved by the town, and if it is not operating as a golf course it will become open space.

Another purchase is lined up for a former farming property on the Upson Street. The $420,000 property will provide 17 acres of open space with 14 acres in Southington and an additional three acres in Cheshire.

Since a portion of this land was once used as an apple orchard, Sciota said they are running some precautionary tests. The town has already completed a Phase 1 test, in which an environmental scientist reviews the land, and officials have just finished Phase 2 environmental testing.

Sciota said he does not expect there to be any issues.

The town attorney said that Southington is grateful to the Cheshire Town Council and Cheshire Town Manager Michael Milone for granting a tax exemption on the Cheshire land. Sciota said he expects the town will purchase the Upson Street property in the coming weeks.

With just over $1 million remaining, Sciota said the town’s Open Space Committee is still “actively pursuing other parcels.”

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