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Branford is about to add 22 acres to the town’s open space inventory.
The Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance have both approved purchasing the property, located in the Farm River estuary east of Beacon Hill. The property owner, Richard J. Kaczynski, is willing to sell the Helen Road parcel at a cost of $325,000. The purchase would increase protected area in the estuary by more than 10 percent while doubling the area of contiguous protected property along the tidal tributary east of Beacon Hill.
Next, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) needs to finalize the commitment with a vote. Once the deal is sealed, Branford will preserve a piece of property in an area under heavy development pressure, on the town’s wish for many years, said Branford Land Trust’s Bill Horne.
A report provided by Horne to the BOS states, “…even before the formation of Branford’s Select Committee on Open Space Acquisition in 2002, the Kaczynski property was a high priority target of the Branford Land Trust and other Branford environmentalists for acquisition.”
Horne presented the purchase request to the BOS on May 1. The purchase costs will largely be covered by a state grant ($137,500) Land Trust funds ($25,000) and the town’s Open Space Fund ($20,000). Branford will tap into the current budget’s contingency fund to foot the $40,000 needed to reach the properties $325,000 price tag.
The land includes salt marsh and is currently taxed as farm-use land by the town. Five acres are used as farm land now; and to protect those soils, it will continue to be used for that purpose once purchased by the town. The area will contribute to the existing greenway and existing open space in the area, protect the plant a wildlife habitat; including threatened or “special concern” species of Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Saltmarsh Sparrow.
The land will be ideal for activities like bird watching but will like not have activities such as walking trails.