By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — Borough officials are in talks with the Connecticut Water Company to acquire land on the east side of the Naugatuck River for recreational purposes.
Naugatuck submitted a proposal in June to the water company to buy three parcels, totaling about 34 acres, between the Mulberry and Candee reservoirs near Osborn Road and Wisteria Drive.
The plan is to build a trail network on the land as well as a 2.5-acre, all-purpose sports field next to the newly built Kevin M. DelGobbo Memorial Field, according to Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess.
Daniel Meaney, director of public affairs and corporate communications for the water company, said the company recently started the process of drafting a memorandum of agreement for the sale of land. There are regulatory requirements, including additional public notification, that need to occur before both parties can sign an agreement, he said.
A 2018 agreement between Connecticut Water and Connecticut Fund for the Environment, now known as Save the Sound, states land no longer needed by water companies will first be offered to the municipalities and land holding organizations where the land is located, Meaney said.
“The mayor’s plan to permanently conserve these three parcels to protect the environment and provide public recreation is aligned with the intent of the MOA,” Meaney said.
The water company appraised the three parcels of land. A 9.36-acre parcel is appraised at $28,000. A parcel that is 8.57 acres is appraised at $29,000, while the appraisal of an 16.15-acre parcel is $62,000, according to Meaney.
Borough officials plan to apply for open space grants to offset the cost of land, Hess said.
The proposed deal is still in the early stages. If an agreement is reached and the sale is approved by state regulatory agencies, Meaney said the company wants to the 16-acre parcel by July 2022 and the other parcels by July 2023.
The majority of hiking trails in Naugatuck are on the west side of the borough, including the Larkin State Bridle Trail and the new Meshattuck Trail.
“It’s critical that we have outdoor hiking opportunities on both sides of town,” Hess said. “People complain that there’s not enough to do in Naugatuck, and I agree with them, but one thing that Naugatuck has that is very underrated is a fairly large network of really cool trails that are absolutely beautiful.”
Meaney said Connecticut Water has partnered with local communities and land holding organizations to preserve more than 1,000 acres of former water company land over the last two decades.
“We support this deal and applaud Mayor Hess and the community for their interest. … These three parcels will be conserved for environmental protection and public recreation in perpetuity, as the mayor intends to do,” Meaney said.