As part of its Plan of Conservation and Development, the Town of Old Saybrook has been active in acquiring and permanently preserving open space land within its borders. Stewardship of the land, by our charter, is provided by the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, with assistance from the Conservation Commission and the Old Saybrook Land Trust through a partnership called the MOU Committee.
The goals of the open space program are to improve the quality of life and health of the community by protecting water and air quality; providing outdoor recreation opportunities; enhancing scenic, historic and cultural resources that are valued parts of our heritage; maintaining sustainable ecosystems through protection of habitat for the diversity of plant and animal species in our area; and providing places for education and research relating to environmental and cultural resources.
The land area within the boundaries of the Town of Old Saybrook is approximately 10,000 acres, making open space percentage calculations rather easy. Each 100 acres of land represents 1% of the land area of the town.
A big step forward in the town’s open space program took place in 1999, when the Great Cedars Conservation area was purchased and established. The purchase of 315 acres was made via a town referendum for $1,600,000 and supplemented by a $369,450 grant from the Connecticut DEP. When this area was added to the existing Town Park land, it created a contiguous 500-acre parcel in the northwestern part of Old Saybrook owned by the town.
The most recent major open space addition was the purchase in April, 2015 of The Preserve which was accomplished in collaboration with the Trust for Public Lands, the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, local land trusts in Old Saybrook and Essex and many other concerned organizations and individuals. The Preserve, which is now owned jointly by the Town and the State, added over 900 acres of open space in Old Saybrook. The property was purchased with $3,900,000 from the State, $2,900,000 from TPL and $3,000,000 from the Town as the result of a local referendum where 89% of voters approved the purchase.
At this time the Town has successfully protected approximately 30% of its land - an amount far above the 21% open space goal set by the State.