The following alert was blasted out through e-mails and social network sites Sunday afternoon from Joshua Angelus, the President of the Waterbury Neighborhood Council.
Protect our Neighborhoods and our Quality of Life: Purchase Open Space
Acquisition of passive open space property should be a goal of the City of Waterbury in order to enhance the quality of life of all residents and to avoid overdevelopment of the limited remaining land. This effort should include acquisition of certain proposed condominium and apartment development properties such as Western Woods on Park Road (133.68 acres, open space value $1,750,000), Stonebridge Commons on Highland Avenue (38 acres, estimated open space value $500,000) and Essex Ridge on Suffolk Street (9 acres, estimated open space value $118,000). — Waterbury Neighborhood Council
Some important facts you can use in discussion
· In October of 2010 the State of Connecticut awarded an Open Space Grant to the City to assist in the purchase of the 133.68 acre Park Road property known as Western Woods.
· The Grant provides $650,000 to be applied toward the purchase price of $1,750,000 for the property.
· The purchase price of $1,750,000 for the property is highly favorable in comparison to the appraised values, which ranged from $4,278,000 to $2,260,000
· The property is highly desirable as preserved open space due to its rugged topography including rocky ridges, over 10,000 trees of at least 8 inches diameter and 16.41 acres of wetlands including at least four environmentally sensitive vernal pools.
· The Naugatuck Valley Community College has provided documentation indicating that access to the property would enhance their environmental education programs.
· The property would become a resource for environmental education for students at all levels throughout the City as well as a hiking area for residents of all ages.
· Since the land would be required to remain undeveloped under the conditions of the Grant, annual expenses to the city will be minimal. All but 0.2 acres is classified as woodland, resulting in a total tax of about $2355 according to the on-line tax records.
· The State of Connecticut could withdraw the Western Woods Open Space Grant if the purchase is not executed soon.
· Currently property values and interest rates are near historic lows. We feel that this is an opportunity we should not miss. We therefore urge the Board of Aldermen to authorize the appropriation of $1,100,000 for the acquisition of the Western Woods property on Park Road as well as an appropriation in the amount not to exceed $250,000 for related acquisition expenses and to authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount not to exceed $1,350,000 to finance the obligations. This is a relatively small amount to bond
· Contact should also be initiated with the owners of the Highland Avenue and Suffolk Street properties for possible acquisition as open space. If there is a willingness to consider selling the properties for open space, then some of the expense funding might be useable to obtain appraisals on those lots.
· The Waterbury Neighborhood Council is well aware of the critical financial issues in the City at this time and is calling for meetings between members of the legislative branch and executive branch to meet with a small select committee of the WNC to discuss ways to find more sources of non-property tax revenue and discuss ways to implement savings. This proactive approach will further allow the City to afford the investments in its neighborhoods that are needed for revitalization and sustainability.
Waterbury which has little virgin land left for Open space needs to acquire it protect our neighborhoods from over-develop and to enhance our quality of life. With value of land and interest rates near historic lows the time to purchase is now. IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
CALL TO ACTION
Please attend the aldermen meeting on July 25, 2011 at 6:45pm at the 2nd floor of City Hall. Your attendance is crucial!!!!
Our message – Waterbury which has little virgin land left for Open space needs to acquire it protect our neighborhoods from over-develop and to enhance our quality of life. With value of land and interest rates near historic lows the time to purchase is now.