Old Saybrook residents voted definitively to buy a 1,000-acre parcel of open space in a rare summertime referendum with a turnout officials called "staggering."
According to a release from the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, town residents voted to approve $3 million in bonds to purchase an area of undeveloped land known as "The Preserve."
There are only four access points to the preserve, located near the junction of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook, well inland from Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River.
"It's the largest remaining coastal forest that hasn't been protected between New York City and Boston," said Kate Brown of the Trust for Public Land, which worked out the deal worth more than $8 million with Lehman Brothers Holdings.
“While walking along The Preserve land with members of the Old Saybrook community a few weeks ago, it couldn’t have been more clear that this breathtaking open space needs to be protected for our future generations,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, in a statement Tuesday night. “This forest land is the ideal place to spend an afternoon hiking, exploring, and observing Connecticut’s natural beauty. I’ve been committed to open space protection issues since my days as a state official and I know how committed the land preservation community has been to protecting The Preserve. Tonight's outcome is a huge win and I commend all those who worked hard to make it happen.”
The plan was not without its opponents, though, one of whom objected to the land's sizable price tag.
"Lehman Brothers is bankrupt so it might be a good idea if they just donated to the town," said John Donnelly.
The state government is providing almost half of the money. Essex votes on its $200,000 share at a town meeting next Wednesday.