August 20, 2019

Connecticut River Gateway Commission Reconsiders Land Swap

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission has advised Commissioner Daniel Esty of the Department of Environmental Protection that it is reconsidering its recent offer to transfer thirty-six acres of conservation land in Moodus to the State. The Gateway Commissionʼs position is due to the uncertainty created by the proposed Haddam “land swap” which is pending in the Legislature.

The Gateway Commission has participated in a program for acquisition of conservation land with the DEP for almost thirty years, the partnership having been established by the Legislature in 1973 in the enabling Statutes for the Commission. Throughout the years, the Gateway Commission has acquired conservation easements as well as fee simple property and has in turn transferred those easements and properties to the State of Connecticut. These easements and properties wereeither purchased, using the Commissionʼs own funds, or donated.

In 1986, the Gateway Commission purchased thirty-six acres, known as the Klar Property, in Moodus. The parcel borders Machimoodus State Park on three sides. Because of the uncertainty created by the Legislature’s proposed conveyance of seventeen acres of open space land in Haddam to a private entity (Senate Bill 1196), the Commission is now considering donating the Moodus parcel to a conservation partner other than the State.

The Gateway Commission is concerned the transfer of State-owned conservation land, believed protected in perpetuity, to a private entity for the purposes of development would send a chilling message to property owners who might donate or sell land to the State. Potential benefactors will no longer have confidence that the land would remain in conservation as originally intended. A letter of opposition to the proposed Haddam land swap has been sent by Gateway to the leadership of the State Senate and House in the hopes of having the Haddam land swap section removed from the Conveyance Bill.

The Connecticut River Gateway Commission, like everyone else, awaits the conclusion of the legislative process for Senate Bill 1196 to determine how to proceed with the Klar Property.

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