OLD SAYBROOK — Governor Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal joined over 200 state and local officials, and local residents at a reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony in Old Saybrook on Thursday to celebrate the permanent protection of “The Preserve,” the 1,000 acre coastal woodland recently acquired primarily by the state and the Town of Old Saybrook. The Essex Land Trust also owns some 70 acres in Essex.
Hosted by the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the celebration was held at the Great Cedars (West) Conservation Area on Ingham Hill Rd. in Old Saybrook where a large tent was erected to provide seating, a refreshment area and space for a band. All guests other than VIPs were ferried on school buses from the M & J Bus Depot on Ingham Hill Rd. to the site.
Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna spoke briefly followed by Governor Dannel Malloy. “The Preserve is no longer the largest unprotected coastal forest between New York City and Boston, because it’s now protected,” said Malloy, stating emphatically, “This is a monument to Connecticut and who we are and what we are … part of history is now permanently preserved.”
Blumenthal enthused, “There is no way to describe in words the stunning beauty of this land,” continuing, “It will now be enjoyed by our children and our children’s children.” Prompting ripples of laughter, he also apologized with tongue in cheek to, “… all the golfers who will never have the benefit of playing on the golf courses,” that were once planned for the area.
Also sharing the celebration and offering thanks to the many thousands of individuals and organizations who helped make saving “The Preserve” possible were Connecticut State TPL Director Alicia Sullivan; Speaker of the House and State Representative Brendan Sharkey (D-88); State Representative Phil Miller (D-36); DEEP Policy Director Jessie Stratton; and TPL President and CEO Will Rogers.
Refreshments, speeches and award presentations were followed by a ceremonial ribbon-cutting by Governor Malloy and Senator Blumenthal against the striking back-drop of the green trees of “The Preserve” and a brilliant blue sky.
The celebration marks the culmination of 15 years of hard work, fund-raising and collaboration by an enormous number of individuals, local, state and federal organizations and public figures. Blumenthal remarked that he was reminded of a favorite quote from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt the ability of a small group of intelligent, committed people to change the world – it is the only thing that ever has.”
Rounding off the official part of the ceremony, Rogers noted, “The Trust for Public Land has always referred to ‘The Preserve’ project as the Holy Grail,” adding with a broad smile, “We have now found the Holy Grail.”