New Recreation Lands for Torrington, CT
Torrington, CT, 11/18/04: The City of Torrington has today officially purchased the Machuga property, 36 acres of open space which will be preserved for the enjoyment of the city’s residents. The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, worked with the city to complete the purchase. The site consists of open fields, forested wetlands, and several perennial and intermittent streams that drain into the Still River and surrounding wetlands. The city may designate part of the property as active open space, where playing fields will be developed, while the majority of the property will be used as passive open space for hiking, bird watching, and environmental education. The city purchased the property for $349,000.
Torrington Mayor Owen J. Quinn said, “Today’s closing would not have been as timely and hitch-free if it wasn’t for the hard work and expertise given to us from the dedicated staff atthe Trust for Public Land. Thanks to the noble mission of TPL, Torrington has now secured a picturesque piece of farmland that will not only continue to serve as a sanctuary for wildlife but also as a location for passive recreation that will improve the quality of living for all Torringtonresidents.”
TPL State Director Tim Northrop said, “The city demonstrated strong leadership, vision, and commitment in acquiring this important link in its open space resources. Despite not receiving a state grant, the city decided to fund the project on its own. While some cities may have thrown in the towel, the Mayor and city council made the right decision to move forward. It is a decision that residents of Torrington and Litchfield County will greatly benefit from now and in the future.”
Kim Barbieri, Wetlands Enforcement Officer for the city, explained that the 15-acre wetlands system on the property is part of a much larger 200+-acre complex that supports a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and migratory bird species. “The opportunity to protect a part of this system is critical for the natural ecosystem, but it also gives the city a location in which to expand ecology and natural science studies in this quickly developing area,” she said.
Added Mayor Quinn, “This land acquisition also couldn’t have been possible if not for the foresight of Kim Barbieri, our city’s zoning enforcement and wetlands officer. Several years ago when Kim first walked the Machuga Property, she saw how it could benefit the people of Torrington and here we are on the cusp of making her vision a reality.”
Louise Machuga, the landowner who sold the land to the city, expressed her satisfaction that the land would be permanently protected. “We are extremely grateful to TPL for helping the city acquire this land. We have always loved the fields, hills, and brooks on this property and are so happy that other families will be able to enjoy this land as much as ours has over the years.”
The Machuga Property is bordered on the east by over nine acres of the Paugnut State Forest, which contains the Still River and surrounding wetland habitat. An additional parcel of land adjacent to the state forest is currently being considered as an addition to the Sue Grossman Still River Greenway, a five-mile multi-use recreational trail. The Machuga Property provides an important linkage and access point to these other protected lands and will also now serve as the terminus of the Sue Grossman Still River Greenway. The property will be a perfect place for environmental education, bird watching, and walking and biking along the Greenway.
Ted W. Barlow, a member of the Greenway Volunteer Committee, offered congratulations to the Mayor and City Council for their foresight in acquiring the property. “The Machuga property really complements the Greenway, and the Greenway will complement this new public recreation area,” he said.
David Queeley, Director of TPL’s Parks for People New England program noted, “The commitment shown by the City of Torrington to acquire such a key parcel in the middle of an urban area helps set the standard for other cities to follow. Hopefully, other urban acquisitions of this type can become the norm as cities become more populated, creating needed and new places for people to recreate passively and actively.”
The Torrington Area Foundation for Public Giving, which gave TPL a grant to cover a portion of its project costs, was happy to see the project’s goals fulfilled. According to Guy Rovezzi, President of the Foundation, “Protection of our environment and the preservation of Litchfield County’s natural beauty are key initiatives at the Torrington Area Foundation for Public Giving. In crafting their vision for this project, The Trust for Public Land has ensured that the Machuga property will be a protected community treasure for years to come. We are delighted to support this project.”
The Louise B. and Edgar M. Cullman Foundation also helped to support TPL’s involvement in the project.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization that 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. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.9 million acres in 45 states, including over 3,000 in Connecticut. For more information, please visit www.tpl.org/connecticut.