Hecker Ave. land purchase approved
Published 9:57 am, Wednesday, February 10, 2016
The Darien Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to authorize the purchase of 1.24 acres of open space on Hecker Avenue for a potential wooded shortcut between Town Hall property and the Darien Library and police station.
The purchase will be paid using a $137,500 gift from the Darien Land Trust and an equal Open Space and Watershed Acquisition grant from the state.
A conservation easement on the land between the town and the Darien Land Trust will include reserving the town’s right to pursue flood mitigation projects involving the land, which borders a flood-prone neighborhood, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said before the vote Monday night.
Previous efforts to buy the property during Stevenson’s tenure have fallen short, and in Sept. 2013 the RTM delayed a vote over questions regarding the conservation easement and the use of the land in the future, or how it would be maintained.
Filmer said the wooded piece of land even with the scenic path along the Stony Brook River has the right conditions to serve as a haven for wildlife with, “shelter, food, and water.”
“It’s modest but we think it is something we as half-owners would be very proud of,” Filmer said of the path, which has not been designed or approved.
When committee members asked about whether flood control projects on the property could be used effectively to reduce or manage water levels, Stevenson said the answer depends on many variables. A 2009 analysis by consultant Milone & McBroom of the Stony Brook River watershed said multiple projects along the river would be needed to reduce flooding conditions, Stevenson said.
Purchasing the property and establishing a relatively low impact use such as a walking path would prevent the property from being purchased and developed, possibly exacerbating future floods.
“The report said there is no single element or project you can do along the Stony Brook watershed that would mitigate flooding and in some cases if you pick and choose to do one element you would exacerbate flood conditions,” Stevenson said.