SOUTHINGTON — More of the woods around Crescent Lake could be permanently preserved through an agreement Southington and Plainville have reached to purchase 48 acres of land to designate as open space.
“We want to make sure we protect what I consider our crown jewel of our open space, which is certainly Crescent Lake and our 300 acres there,” Southington Town Manager Mark Sciota told the Town Council this week. The council unanimously voted Monday to grant Sciota approval to enter into a contract to purchase the parcel.
Under the purchase agreement the two towns negotiated with Valley Water Systems — a private water utility serving Plainville — both towns would pay at most $150,000 to buy a plot of land on the northern end of the park. Both towns are jointly drafting an application to pursue a grant from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection which could cover 40 to 60 percent of the purchase cost.
Opening up the land to the public could allow volunteers to create additional trails to the park and precludes the possibility of development on the land, which is currently zoned for residential use.
“Not that they’re ever going to put a massive subdivision there, but I do believe the last thing you want to do is go to Crescent Lake and see four or five houses sitting up hanging over the lake,” Sciota said.
Plainville Town Planner Garrett Daigle examined the parcel and determined that if Valley Water Systems were to sell to a developer, three to four large homes could be built on the land.
Under the agreement, Valley would be selling the property for a fraction of its appraised value of $500,000, according to an executive summary of the agreement. Should a state grant be secured for the purchase, the sale price would be increased to $325,000.
Though the land would be owned by Plainville, Town Manager Robert Lee said it would be set aside as open space to be enjoyed by all and protects the investments Southington has made at Crescent Lake. While the Plainville Town Council was already interested in purchasing the land as open space when VWS approached the town, Lee said being able to split the cost with Southington allowed the council to view the deal more favorably.
“We very much appreciate the cooperation of the town of Southington,” Lee said. “ … I think it’s a win-win situation for both communities.”