DANBURY - It's not quite a park, and not quite a swamp.
But when all the building is done on the west side of the city, Danbury will end up with nearly 200 acres to be preserved as a natural habitat for wildlife.
, director of environmental and occupational health in Danbury, said of the planned open space. "It's a fifth the size of Tarrywile," he said, referring to the city's biggest park, on Southern Boulevard on the fringe of downtown.
The long, narrow ribbon of land on the west end runs from near Old Ridgebury Road toward Saw Mill Road. It has wetlands, wooded areas and cliffs.
The city won't actually own the property. Instead, city officials are working with the owners of the project, called the Reserve, on a permanent conservation easement.
The easement negotiations follow a ruling from the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
that the property can't be developed. The soil can't be disturbed. Nothing can be dumped or buried there, and the natural habitat can't be changed or disturbed.
The property, which currently has no paths, will be called the Wildlife Habitat Corridor Conservation Restriction Area.
Nearby land is being developed into housing and retail shops and will look like a village. Roughly 1,185 condominiums, town homes and lofts are being developed within a half mile of a village center.
The conservation land runs mostly along the outside of the developed space. When the conservation land is added to other wetlands and steep slopes on the property, about 47 percent of the 454-acre Reserve parcel will remain open space.
"It's wonderful. Anytime open space can be protected, it's a great thing," said
, a board member of the
Land Trust of Danbury
, which until last month was known as the
Swampfield Land Trust
"We spoke with the original owners. We talked with a number of people over time, but the Army Corps of Engineers established the goals early. By the time I got involved, the deal was struck," Montgomery said.
The city will have the task of keeping track of the land and making sure the rules of the conservation easement are followed. The
will take up the plan next week.
said there is no public parking on the 192 acres, nor will any be added. But people who buy homes in the Reserve or outsiders can walk on the land.
"There is no formal hiking trail. The owners may set one up," said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. "We don't own the land. We have an easement to keep an eye on it."
In a separate deal, developers of the Reserve gave Danbury nearly 14 acres on Old Ridgebury Road, where the city plans to build soccer fields.
Contact Mark Langlois
or at (203) 731-3337.