Submitted by the Town of Simsbury
The Town of Simsbury announced today it has received a $500,000 state grant toward the acquisition and protection of the final phase of 423 acres of land known as the Ethel Walker Woods. First Selectman Mary Glassman said the Town was notified of the grant award in a letter from Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner Daniel C. Esty of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Funding for the open space acquisition is available from the State of Connecticut’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program.
“The Town of Simsbury is grateful for the support and partnership of the Governor and Commissioner Esty in the preservation of this important and valuable open space parcel,” Glassman said. The grant will fund the third and final phase of the acquisition of 423 acres of open space purchased from Ethel Walker School since 2007. “When completed, the acquisition of Ethel Walker Woods will be among the largest tracts of land purchased by a Connecticut municipality,” Glassman said. She also credited Town Engineer Richard Sawitzke for his hard work, town and Ethel Walker school officials and a dedicated group of volunteers for working together for the success of the program.
The final phase, Parcel C, includes the remaining 45 acres which is scheduled to be purchased under an option agreement in 2014 at a price of $1.1 million. The grant to be awarded by the state will reduce the town’s cost to $600,000, Glassman said. The purchase of Parcel C will complete the Town’s Ethel Walker open space program to preserve 423 acres at a total cost of $11.1 million. Since 2007, the Town of Simsbury has been awarded a total of $1,907,841 in grant funds leaving a net cost to Simsbury of $9,192,159.
Purchase of the Ethel Walker Woods had been identified as an important acquisition because of its significant conservation value, Glassman said. The property includes the Stratton Brook Aquifer and encompasses a significant proportion of aquifer recharge area which is a source of 70 percent of Simsbury’s drinking water, according to Richard Sawitzke, Town Engineer. The property is also contiguous to 1400 acres of undeveloped land and is noted for an exceptional diversity of wildlife habitat and is home to more than 350 species of wildlife.