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07/05/2022 03:15 PM

Westbrook Completes Purchase of 130 Acres of Open Space

Good news for Westbrook nature enthusiasts: as of June 22, the purchase of 130 acres of open space by Toby Hill Road is now complete. The purchase expands Westbrook’s open space by about 20 percent.

In February voters approved the receipt of $315,000 in grant money to purchase land from Toby Hill Associates in a move to help protect Westbrook’s water resources. Those funds were combined with town money to complete the purchase for a total of $521,000. First Selectman John Hall told the Board of Selectmen at a meeting on June 23 that the purchase had been officially completed.

The parcel is located at the end of the paved area of Toby Hill Road to the northeast. Hall told the Harbor News the acquisition was a long time coming.

“The previous owners, Toby Hill Associates, had been talking with the Town since about 2015 and then we’ve been actively pursuing the purchase over the last three or four years,” said Hall.

Toby Hill Associates, which was building a residential subdivision in the area, deemed the parcel unsuitable for its project. When the property became available, the Town and concerned citizens began exploring ways to purchase the property to ensure the land could be protected.

As for potential uses, Hall explained that the property connects to property owned by the Essex Land Trust as well as to land owned by the Westbrook Land Trust. The Land Trust and other groups may potentially be able to add hiking trails to the land and even potentially connect to The Preserve, he said.

Hall said that protecting water on the property was a key factor for the purchase.

Earlier this year, Heidi Wallace, the town’s Inland Wetlands Agent, explained “The headwaters of Trout Brook are in that property and we have actually seen juvenile trout in those waters. That is an indicator of very good water quality. For how pure the water is, it’s a beautiful piece of land.”

Hall concurred with that assessment.

“I think it’s important to protect sources of drinking water and places that could have run off into our streams and rivers,” Hall said. “Plus, this land adds a nice green belt to the town.”