There’s a new nature preserve in North Haven, and if you’re familiar with the area it might surprise you. After over a decade of work, the former Pharmacia and Upjohn Company site has been transformed.
It may not look like much from the entrance on 41 Stiles Lane in North Haven – right off the Route 40 connector and along I-91, but behind the fence are 57 beautiful acres of restored habitat along the Quinnipiac River with walking trails and ecosystems to explore. And beginning this upcoming Wednesday, September 15, the area will be open to the public.
“I think it’s wonderful to turn a place that was potentially a toxic chemical plant into a beautiful area where our residents can go and enjoy it and let nature have a place.”
Sandy Mascia has lived in North Haven her entire life and remembers all too well what the plant used to be like.
“I remember just growing up here in town as a kid and just always wondering what that smell was,” said Mascia. “Chemical, toxic, it was bad.”
Members of the community rallied together back in the early 2000s to advocate for change. And after Pfizer acquired the plant in 2003, they finally put plans into action. With $150 million and a lot of thoughtful planning with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the property has been cleaned and beautified for people to enjoy.
“We have trails for environmental watching. It’s an ecological wonderland,” explained Michael Freda, first selectman of North Haven. “All this contamination has been cleaned up.”
And the work isn't done yet - there are still 17 acres that will be developed in the upcoming years.
“Could be commercial development, could be light industrial, but it’s also a location that I’m working with the Department of Transportation to put a train station there probably within the next three or four years," Freda said.
And residents we spoke to couldn't be more excited.
“I think that the town has been waiting for this kind of project and I’m thrilled to go look at it," Diane Tanenbaum said.
“I think it’s also just a great area, I have a group of Girl Scouts, I do PTA things here in town,” adds Mascia. “So I think it’s also a place for our community and our young ones to go and kind of pitch in and make sure that place is kept up, kept clean, keep beautiful.”
Brick Yard Point is free and open to the public ages 12 and up. To minimize distributions to wildlife, the preserve is limited to 15 visitors at a time so you do need to make a reservation. To learn more just visit: https://www.brickyardpoint.org/