Agreement Reached for Conserving Coogan Land

A 34-acre Stonington, Conn. farm property overlooking the Mystic River, could be conserved for recreation, habitat protection, and connections to other natural areas, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center and The Trust for Public Land announced today.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, has signed a contract to purchase the Coogan Farm on Route 27, and if the acquisition is successful, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center (DPNC) will become the permanent owner and manager of the land.

The property is owned by the Clara Morgan Coogan Trust, which will donate an additional 11 acres to the DPNC in conjunction with the sale of the adjoining land. Ed Coogan, Trustee of the Clara Morgan Coogan Trust, stated “We are happy to have the contract signed. We hope that TPL and DPNC are successful in making this happen.”

Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek said, “Stonington’s Coogan Farm is an important property rich in history, archeology and nature. As the last undeveloped parcel along the Mystic River, this area could offer important economic benefits to our town by protecting the natural amenities that contribute to Mystic’s unique sense of place, an attraction to visitors and residents alike.”

Maggie Jones, the Nature Center’s Executive Director said, “I am so pleased that our partnership with The Trust for Public Land has led to an opportunity to preserve this valuable property. The Coogan Farm is the last remaining open space near historic downtown Mystic. The Coogan Farm would be an important addition to the Nature Center and the community at large. It will enhance our educational programs while providing trail connections and areas the public can enjoy for hiking and wildlife viewing.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the property would be purchased for $2.8 million by the end of March 2013. Over the next few months, DPNC and TPL will be seeking a combination of public and private funds to assist with the purchase of this community asset. The overall fundraising goal of $3.5 million will cover the purchase price, costs, stewardship and renovation funds. TPL will also seek grants and other outside funding sources to help defray acquisition costs.

DPNC has identified many benefits of protecting the remainder of the Coogan Farm. For example, DPNC would protect the farm’s field and meadow habitats while incorporating existing and new trails through the Coogan Farm into a community-wide trail system. The acquisition will create a greenway for wildlife and people by connecting the Nature Center, Denison Homestead and Avalonia Land Conservancy properties to the Mystic River.

Alicia Betty, TPL Connecticut State Director said, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to pursue the conservation of this historic land that is so important to the fabric of this community. The connections that this land has to existing cultural and natural sites gives it great potential to become a resource for all who live in this community and who visit it. We’re honored to be partnering with the exemplary Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center and with other local organizations that have joined in support of this effort.”

Jones added, “The Coogan Farm captures the essence of Mystic country with stonewalls, meadows and vistas across the Mystic River to the west and southward over Long Island Sound. With a prominent location between Coogan Boulevard and Route 27, it offers unparalleled opportunities and connections for residents and visitors to Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, and adjacent neighborhoods and businesses.”

Stephen White, President of the Mystic Seaport Museum stated “As a close neighbor of the Coogan Farm, we support its preservation for public use and are excited about the trail connections that could be made between the property, the museum and other sites in Mystic.” Tricia Cunningham, President of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce added, “We are so proud of our community for stepping up to find an ideal balance of both economic development and conservation. We would like to congratulate those that put in many hours and resources to get to this point.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit organization with an office in New Haven, works to conserve land for people to enjoy as working landscapes, parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has protected more than 6,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 40 communities across Connecticut.

Founded in 1946, the Nature Center now has 1,600 members and environmental education programs serving over 50,000 people a year from every town in New London County and beyond. Made possible through the generosity and commitment of the Denison Homestead, DPNC is a private, not-for-profit organization funded by admission fees, memberships and contributions. The Nature Center maintains 10 miles of trails on 250 acres of land it owns or manages in partnership with the Denison Homestead and Avalonia Land Conservancy. In addition, DPNC holds a conservation easement on the 207-acre Manatuck Preserve in Stonington and serves as steward of the Peace Sanctuary, directly across the River from the Coogan Farm. The Center’s mission is: “to inspire and nurture appreciation and scientific understanding of the natural world and foster a personal environmental ethic.”

Media Contacts

Kate Brown, The Trust for Public Land, T. 203.777.7367  x. 5

Maggie Jones, Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, T. 860.536.1216, x.11