Agreement Would Protect Wilkus Farm (CT)

Wethersfield, CT, 2/25/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, along with officials from the Town of Wethersfield, announced today that it had reached agreement with the heirs of the Wilkus Farm for the purchase and permanent protection of the family’s lands in Wethersfield, Connesticut.

The 81-acre Wilkus Farm includes three separate parcels, two of which are located on Willow Street and the third nearby on Thornbush Road, adjacent to the Town-owned 1860 Reservoir. The late Wilkus brothers farmed this property for much of the last century and the family continues to hay the property today. The farm contains prime farmland soils and remains an important symbol of the Town’s agricultural history. In addition, the permanent protection of this historic property will protect the most significant open space parcels in town and provide much needed public access to the 1860 Reservoir. The purchase price is $3,500,000 for the 81 acres, and includes the house at 138 Willow


Andrew Adil, the Mayor of Wethersfield, said, “As a child I used to play in the fields owned by the Wilkus brothers on Willow Street. The preservation of this land as open space is important to the Town and has been the number one priority of our Conservation Commission. I am most pleased to say that after months of negotiations, the Council has elected to purchase this farm for $3.5 million (which includes $490,000 in state grants). We have not made an acquisition this large since the 1960’s when the town completed the sale of Wintergreen Woods and the 1860 Reservoir. I couldn’t be more proud of our community for making the commitment to protect our farmland and preserve this beautiful acreage. I want to acknowledge and thank Lisa Bassani from the Trust for Public Land for her diligence in helping to make the conservation of this property a reality.”

Governor Rell announced in November 2008 that the town had been awarded a grant of $490,000 from the CT Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the permanent protection of the Wilkus Farm, bringing the final cost to the Town down to $3,010,000. The grant is part of the DEP’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program, in operation since 1998. The program helps towns, land trusts and water companies conserve important land for open space and water supply protection.

Lisa Bassani, Field Representative for The Trust for Public Land, said, “The Town has an opportunity to preserve the most significant open space parcels in Town, while also preserving such an important piece of the Town’s agricultural history. It is truly a win-win. We are delighted to be involved in a conservation effort that will benefit residents for generations to come.”

The Town of Wethersfield has $3.7 million remaining from a bond passed by Town voters in 2006 for open space acquisitions. The expenditure of the bond funds requires Town Council approval. The Town Council voted to send the acquisition to the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval, as is required under Connecticut General Statutes. If the approval is granted, the Planning and Zoning Commission will refer the matter back to the Town Council for a vote.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will complete the 8-24 Review of this purchase, as required by State Statute, on 3/3 and a public hearing is tentatively scheduled for 3/16.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization which works with others 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 over 5,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 32 communities across the state.