Windsor Locks Conserves “Water Works Brook” Property (CT)

WINDSOR LOCKS, CT, September 22, 2009 – The Town of Windsor Locks today completed its $2 million purchase of a conservation easement from Connecticut Water Company for the 198-acre South Center Street property in Windsor Locks, known as the “Water Works Brook” parcel. The town’s purchase, coordinated by The Trust for Public Land, permanently protects the largest remaining open space in Windsor Locks.

Windsor Locks First Selectman Steve Wawruck said, “Thanks to the outstanding support of our voters and the commitment of our staff, Connecticut Water, and TPL, we were able to complete the purchase of this pristine property. The purchase allows current and future generations of town residents to enjoy the property without having to be concerned about its future development.” The conservation easement permanently protects the land, while at the same time the town is not incurring the cost of an outright property purchase.

The purchase was made possible through the combined effort of the town, Connecticut Water, The Trust for Public Land, state officials and the local community. The town retained The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national non-profit conservation organization, to help negotiate and coordinate the conservation easement purchase and identify grant money to minimize the cost to the town. The town will receive a grant of $490,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant program toward the purchase.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to help protect the last remaining natural area for Windsor Locks,” said Whitney Hatch, Connecticut state director, The Trust for Public Land. “It is a remarkable property and its permanent protection is a testament to the will of the voters and reflects the strong partnership that worked tirelessly for an important conservation outcome.”

The Water Works Brook parcel has been owned by Connecticut Water Company for more than 50 years and was used as a public drinking water supply source. When the company informed the town that it no longer needed this well field for water supply purposes, Windsor Locks expressed a strong interest in preserving the site for open space and recreational purposes-a stated goal in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. In late April 2008, the town contacted The Trust for Public Land to assist in this land conservation transaction.

Connecticut Water and the town were able to close on the sale once the company received necessary approvals from the Department of Public Utility Control and the Department of Public Health and the Town received approval from the Department of Environmental Protection.

“We did not want to see land like this sold for development, especially knowing how much support the community has for its preservation for open space and recreation.” said Maureen P. Westbrook, Connecticut Water’s Vice President of Customer and Regulatory Affairs. “We are proud to work with the community and be part of something where the outcome is beneficial to all parties involved.”

DEP Commissioner Amey Marrella said, “DEP is pleased that we were able to help fund the 198-acre ‘Water Works Brook’ property. This property is particularly impressive because it is the largest area of unfragmented forest land in Windsor Locks and its forest is recognized by the DEP as a ‘habitat of conservation significance’ that will further protect declining wildlife species and habitats. Protection and preservation of this land make it possible for visitors to enjoy year round outdoor activities such as hiking and cross-country skiing, along with viewing of native wildlife.”

The local support for this purchase was evident in the fall of 2008, when more than 100 residents attended informational sessions and 400 walked the property during tours hosted by Connecticut Water. In the December 2008 referendum on the purchase, the vote passed by a resounding 90 percent margin.

“In protecting this property, we are preserving the quality of life for Windsor Locks residents. This will be a wonderful asset for the community for years to come,” said State Representative Peggy Sayers.

The forested parcel contains an extensive trail system for hiking, cross-country skiing, and wildlife viewing. In addition to its recreational value, the parcel contains pristine water resources, and a forest type that is recognized by the State Department of Environmental Protection as a “Habitat of Conservation Significance.”

The partners are planning a public opening celebration on site, for October 3, at 12:30 p.m.

Connecticut Water Company serves nearly 300,000 people in 54 towns in Connecticut. The towns served include: Ashford, Avon, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bolton, Brooklyn, Burlington, Canton, Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Columbia, Coventry, Deep River, East Granby, East Haddam, East Hampton, East Windsor, Ellington, Enfield, Essex, Farmington, Griswold, Guilford, Hebron, Killingly, Lebanon, Madison, Manchester, Mansfield, Marlborough, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Plainfield, Plymouth, Portland, Prospect, Somers, South Windsor, Stafford, Stonington, Suffield, Thomaston, Thompson, Tolland, Vernon, Voluntown, Waterbury, Westbrook, Willington, Windsor Locks and Woodstock.

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.