Grant could mean additional hiking opportunities in borough

Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess talks about the importance of Gunntown Passive Park and Nature Preserve at the entrance to the park on Aug. 25, 2020. The borough wants to buy 45 acres of open space to connect the park off Gunntown Road with borough-owned land on Andrew Mountain Road. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — People may have a greater opportunity to hike on more land in Naugatuck if the borough secures a grant.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses unanimously approved a motion to apply for a Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant to secure about 45 acres of land along Gunntown Road. The borough would be acquiring the Wilmot property to do so.

The borough is applying for the grant for the ultimate connection of passive recreation trails, which include the Mission 22 Trail with the Larkin State Bridle Trail and the conservation of open space in the borough.

Mission 22 is a nonprofit organization that seeks to end veteran suicide and also offers treatment for issues, like post-traumatic stress, veterans face. The borough has hosted an annual hike on its Mission 22 trial for the past few years to raise money and awareness for the organization.

The land has been appraised at $180,000. The borough is applying for a grant that would cover 75% of the purchase cost. The borough would match the rest of about $45,000.

The land would give the residents a sensational open space area, Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said at a special borough board meeting on Sept 28.

“We all know Gunntown Park is serene, tranquil and beautiful. The hill is rugged and a real sanctuary for the animals,” Hess said. “At the top is beautiful meadow. It’s a great piece of property.”

In the past, the borough has applied for the grant and wasn’t successful. So the borough has given the assignment to their new grant writer who has written up a better grant proposal, Hess said.

Hess said the funds would come from the borough’s surplus, which would be transferred into its capital reserve.

“Right now, the Mission 22 trail goes into Gunntown Park, up the pipeline, through the pastures and the Wilmont property and up to Andrew Mountain Road,” Hess said. “So the new trail will be in Gunntown Park and instead of going up the pipeline, it will go up borough land, up the hill to the same spot.”