Killingworth Land Trust Adds Unique Parcel
The Killingworth Land Conservation Trust (KLCT) has announced it has closed on a land acquisition project to protect 24 acres in the center of Killingworth. According to KLCT officials, the new parcel, with road frontage on Route 80, just east of the traffic circle, will be known as the Keystone Preserve; it abuts existing land trust property, including the Winkel’s Pond Preserve property.
KLCT President David Gumbart said the organization is excited about the purchase as it will connect several previously isolated properties.
“It pulls together a couple of different pieces of property we own to the west, which is our Winkel’s Pond preserve,” Gumbart said. “There is a small loop trail there already. We also own some wetlands and a bit of upland buffer to the east and northeast. This is situated between those existing parcels, so it brings it all together. With that, we will provide an opportunity for public access.”
According to Gumbart, the land was purchased from Margaret Duffy, Meghan Greer, and Elizabeth Cote, who have had the land in their family since 1968. Gumbart said there had been sporadic talks with the owners over the years but began more detailed negotiations in 2020 about the purchase.
“There had been some discussions with the land owners quite some years ago, and it was around 2020 where it was decided let’s reach out again and see where the family stands. It was something we were aware of that would make a great addition,” said Gumbart. (I)t just seemed like the time was right, and we’re very fortunate that things worked out. The family was receptive, and following an appraisal of the land, both parties agreed upon a purchase price. I think they were very interested that the Land Trust wanted to acquire it. From their point of view, I think they were happy to work with us and see it through.”
A substantial grant from the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Open Space and Watershed Acquisition (OSWA) program also ensured the purchase could be made, according to Gumbart.
“It was hoped available state matching funds could support the project, and a grant proposal to the DEEP’s OSWA program was submitted in 2021. State support was, in fact, provided, with the DEEP announcing in June 2022 it would commit $78,000 to help the project come to fruition,” said Gumbart.
Any parcels that can be conserved are important to the organization, said Gumbart, and he noted that community support and input were critical in making the purchase a reality. The KLCT is already seeking another parcel off Paper Mill Road that will further extend its holdings.
“The community response to this project and support from our land trust members was wonderful. Knowing we could reach our fundraising goal helps us think about and plan for future acquisitions,” Gumbart said. “In fact, the Land Trust already has another project lined up to acquire 14 acres from the Connecticut Water Company. This property is across the street on Paper Mill Road from the site of the Land Trust’s recent cranberry harvest events and has frontage on the Hammonasset River.”
According to Gumbart, the next steps will include creating a parking area and firming up plans for the trail. An observation platform will provide viewing opportunities along the pond edge.
“The Land Trust looks forward to formally opening the preserve to the public, which is anticipated this summer, possibly as early as June,” Gumbart said. “The Trust owns a significant wetland immediately east of this parcel, and it has open water throughout most of the year. It’s fairly shallow but provides a beautiful view. It has forest, and in the past, there have been some great blue herons that have nested, so it will provide a very aesthetic place to enjoy a view and a quiet moment.”
For more information about the Killingworth Land and Conservation Trust, visit killingworthlandconservationtrust.org