Phillips Farm Permanently Protected

February 25, 2009
New Hartford, Connecticut

The Town of New Hartford announced today that it has completed the protection of the 59-acre Phillips Farm through acquisition of a conservation easement in partnership with the State of Connecticut and The Trust for Public Land. The State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection contributed 50% of the purchase price and will jointly hold the easement.

For the past two years, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, has been working with the Town and with Jeanne Phillips, the owner of the farm located on East Cotton Hill Road, to protect the property. New Hartford's Open Space Preservation Commission had identified the land as a priority for the town as it is a significant piece of the farming character of the community. In addition, it serves as an important link in a 300-acre greenway stretching from the Goula Open Space Area to Antolini School and protects important natural resources and wildlife habitat.

"I am happy that this deal has been concluded and that 59 acres have been set aside for permanent protection and use by the public. This gives us a great corridor of open space together with previously protected properties. I'm particularly pleased to protect the significant open water wetland that ties this property to the Goula Open Space. This will provide a great educational opportunity for our children," said Earl MacInness, First Selectman of New Hartford.

"It has been a dream of my family to preserve our farm forever for future generations to enjoy," said Jeanne Phillips. "I am thankful that the sale is complete and grateful to the many people who worked so hard to make this a success."

The conservation easement will not only prevent development on the land and protect its natural resources, but will also permit passive recreational access on trails while allowing the Phillips Family to continue to own and farm the property as they have done for generations. The easement will stay in place forever, even if the property is transferred to another family in the future.

Alicia Betty, Project Manager for TPL, said, "The Trust for Public Land is delighted that we were able to carry out the wishes of the voters of New Hartford, who saw the benefits of conserving this land forever, and overwhelmingly approved funding for this project in December. We are also grateful to Jeanne Phillips and her family for being very generous and patient in the process of selling this conservation easement." She continued, "We thank the State Legislature for providing the funding for the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program which truly made this project possible, and lastly we congratulate the Open Space Preservation Commission of New Hartford for its determination to realize this extraordinary conservation goal."

Bill Michaud, Chairman of New Hartford's Open Space Preservation Commission, stated, "Open space preservation requires that we think beyond our current circumstances and visualize how the loss of our natural spaces and farmland would change the fundamental fabric of our communities. This project is a testament to the shared vision of the Phillips family, our community, our state, and TPL. On behalf of the community, I would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the Phillips family for their generosity and patience, and to Alicia Betty and The Trust for Public Land for their critical role in making this vision a reality."

The Phillips Farm Property has historically been a dairy farm and is now used for hay production. The parcel contains forests, several open fields, and a large, pristine wetlands areas that was partially protected when the Town purchased Goula Farm a few years ago. The streams on the farm drain into tributaries that feed the Nepaug Reservoir, so its protection will also safeguard drinking water supplies of the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC).

The funding for the total purchase price of $730,000 was provided as follows: The State of Connecticut DEP provided $365,000 and the Town contributed the remaining $365,000 through its Land Preservation Fund, that is funded by fees paid by developers, penalties, and sale of Town-owned land. The family has graciously agreed to be paid over a three year period to make it easier for the Town.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit organization, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected nearly 6,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 60 communities across Connecticut.