Jones Mountain Purchase Completed (CT)
New Hartford, CT, 5/13/2006 -After years of negotiations and two town meetings, the Town of New Hartford and the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, announced today that the Town has purchased the Jones Mountain property located off of Steele road for permanent protection as open space. The 158-acre forested mountain is central to the character of downtown New Hartford. A conservation easement held by the State of Connecticut will ensure that the land will remain forever undeveloped.
Bill Baxter, the First Selectman of New Hartford, said, “The town has made a significant statement about its desire to preserve specific properties in their natural state in perpetuity with this acquisition as well as the recent Goula property purchase. The open space initiatives are important steps to balance our rural character with development pressures we face. People will always see the forest and protected ridgeline of Jones Mountain as they drive into New Hartford village. There can be no clearer statement about our desire to maintain this critical balance between conservation and development. Our thanks to the TPL, the State Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program, Open Space Commission, the New Hartford Land Trust and many others for their diligence and persistence in making this happen.”
Alicia Betty, Project Manager for TPL, said, “The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have a role in protecting this important landscape for the Town of New Hartford. Town residents, Town leaders, the State of Connecticut and the New Hartford Land Trust have all come together with a common vision to achieve this important conservation victory. Future generations will enjoy nature on Jones Mountain and the character of the community will be forever preserved.”
TPL negotiated the purchase of the land from the Jones Family and has held a contract on the property to keep it off the market until the Town was ready to buy. TPL applied for and received a state grant for this purchase in the amount of $450,000 for the Town. The remaining funds will come from bonds voted on at a Town Meeting on January 5, 2006 and a significant contribution from the New Hartford Land Trust. Upon learning that the Town would be short on funds for the purchase, the New Hartford Land Trust sprang into action raising the necessary $119,000 through a quick and energetic campaign over the holidays.
Ron Eigenbrod, President of the New Hartford Land Trust stated, “The New Hartford Land Trust is very pleased to have helped make the Jones Mountain purchase possible by spearheading a fund drive to raise the $119,000.00 needed to bridge the gap between what the town had approved and what was needed. We are proud to have played a small part in this historic purchase of open space by the town. It is truly a partnership between public and private funds coming together to make this deal happen.”
The family is delighted that the land on Jones Mountain will be forever conserved. Jeanne Jones, one of the three sisters making up this generation of Joneses, stated, ” We are thrilled this special Connecticut hillside we have shared with family and friends for over 5 generations will now be able to be shared with the wider family and friends of New Hartford. It is gratifying to think that we have had an impact on how this area will look and feel for generations to come. My great grandfather would have been very pleased.”
The land will be used for passive recreation activities, such as hiking and wildlife viewing. A Stewardship Task Force, headed by Donna LaPlante, has recently been formed to determine short-term management of the property that already has hiking trails and a beautiful look-out spot. The task group will present its recommendations for a permanent stewardship process to the Town in the near future. The Town will provide access to the property for the public by a hiking trail off of Steele Road, the property’s Western border.
The Jones Mountain property is one of the signature landscapes in New Hartford that helps define the character of the fast-developing community. The property consists of rugged old forest, meadows, and intermittent and perennial streams. The parcel has been designated in the Town’s Plan and the State’s Plan of Conservation and Development as a priority conservation area. Once protected, the public will have access to its existing trails and old carriage road, which provide spectacular views of the town and the West Branch of the Farmington River.
Preservation of this area is also a critical water quality issue, as half of the property drains into the East Mountain Brook, a tributary of the Farmington River. Town officials have feared that development at Jones Mountain could cause erosion that would impact the watershed. Additionally, the property is contiguous to over 300 acres of land held by the Kingdom Game Club, and would, if protected, create a large area of continuous forest, important for the habitat of many animal and bird species.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit organization with an office in New Haven, 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’s Connecticut program has protected more than 4,000 acres of open space, watershed land, working farms and forestland, and historic resources in 32 communities across the state. For more information, please visit www.tpl.org/connecticut.