East Lyme officials, residents consider what to allow on Darrow Pond land

East Lyme - Residents reacted to a list of recommended activities that could be permitted on 200 acres of conservation land within the town-owned Darrow Pond parcel during a public hearing Monday.

The town had purchased the 301 acres of land on 16 Mostowy Road from Webster Bank in 2011 for $4.1 million. Two hundred acres are to be set aside under a conservation easement, as part of the town's agreement with the Trust for Public Land, the nonprofit organization that helped purchase the land.

While the remaining 100 acres are for town use, Darrow Pond Open Space Committee Chairman Jack Hogan said Monday's hearing specifically concerned the 200-acre easement.

The committee, which was charged with recommending uses for the 200 acres, suggested uses such as hiking, walking, snow-shoeing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, trail building, and educational activities.

The committee proposed allowing controlled hunting, according to Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recommendations.

But the committee opposed uses such as athletic fields, motorized vehicles, paved paths and dog parks.

Cheryl Lozanov, the chairwoman of the Inland Wetlands Agency, wondered about the use of fertilizers, which most on the committee agreed should be permitted as long as the "best practices" were followed. She asked if the committee considered using noninvasive species to "choke out" invasive species.

Hogan said that fertilizer would only be used if needed, for example when cultivating a burnt-out patch.

"None of us are thinking about using fertilizer on a daily basis," said Hogan.

A group of residents, many who live by Darrow Pond, were concerned about the use of the remaining 100 acres. They also said they wanted to be part of the overall decision-making process, or have more information about it from the town, since they said they held deeds to the land from a previous agreement.

Resident Camille Alberti, who lives near Darrow Pond, wondered how the restrictions would be policed, as well as potential liabilities with public access to Darrow Pond.

The committee will discuss Monday's comments at its next meeting before presenting its recommendations to the Board of Selectmen, likely on March 20, said Hogan. The DEEP is also conducting a study of the land.

k.drelich@theday.com

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