Further Proof Connecticut is One of the Nation’s Best Places to Live

Connecticut has often been cited as the best place to raise a family. They have excellent public-school systems, lower childcare costs, top-notch healthcare, a low crime rate and luxury-living housing. Connecticut also values its wildlife and fights to preserve some of the nation’s most beautiful lands.

Preserving Connecticut’s Land

As of June 17, 2021, Connecticut is one step closer to reaching its goal of having 673,210 acres designated as open space.

“Our administration has set high goals to mitigate the effects of climate change and implement policies that better preserve our air, water and natural resources,” Governor Lamont has said.

Authorized under Connecticut’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program and the Urban Green and Community Garden Program, Governor Ned Lamont announced that he will be awarding $6.2 million in funding to preserve & safeguard open space lands throughout Connecticut. There will be an additional $5.5 million given to support 29 grants that will be used to buy over 3,000 acres of Connecticut’s beautiful land. There will be a remaining $700,000 to go toward an additional 5 grants that will be given to distressed communities to assist in the use of open space in urban settings. More than 512,000 acres of land will be designated as open spaces.

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) runs both the programs described above and helps land trusts, water companies, nonprofits and local governments in buying land and protecting it as an open space. These open spaces offer so much more than just offering recreation opportunities, they also serve to protect wildlife habitats and ecosystems that are isolating carbon for generations to come.

According to Katie Dykes, the DEEP Commissioner, these open spaces also bring about a better economic future for Connecticut. She believes that these natural attractions will bring more residents looking for a breath of fresh air. She also said that it takes the cooperation of everyone – conservation-minded people, municipalities, land trusts and nonprofits to make significant strides in protecting these open spaces.

Where Are These Beautiful Open Spaces?

Open field in Connecticut, Official Photograph
The George F. Landegger Collection of Connecticut Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

New Haven County and Hartford County are well-known for their beautiful landscapes. It’s no surprise that many of the grants were awarded to towns within these two counties. Aspen Communities has several luxury-living apartment complexes within these two regions. If you are looking to relocate to Connecticut, or if you are already a resident, looking to organize a picnic, a ball game, or simply go on a hike, we have listed some areas where the open spaces have been granted.

New Haven County

Aspen Glen overlooking the community pool
Aspen Glen

New Haven County is home to a flourishing business community. Medical manufacturing, biotechnology, high-tech aerospace and technology businesses have their corporate headquarters spread throughout New Haven County. It is also home to some of the finest public-school systems and universities this nation has to offer – Yale University, Albertus Magnus College, Southern Connecticut State and Quinnipiac University – just to name a few.

If you are looking to relocate to New Haven County, Aspen Glen Communities has several 1- & 2-bedroom apartments available for rent. For those residents, lucky enough to call New Haven County your home – check out the places below that have recently been awarded as open spaces.

Bethany

Project Name: Van Epps Preserve
Sponsor: Bethany Land Trust, Inc.
Grant: $15,900
Total Area: 6.9 acres
Description: This parcel located at 380 Beacon Road straddles Bethany and Beacon Falls. It lies adjacent to the East Block of the Naugatuck State Forest to the north and west, the Bethany Land Trust preserves to the south and the town owned Bethany Veterans Memorial Park to the southeast. The parcel is flat on the southern side before gradually rising where it abuts the ridge of the state forest. It is primarily forested with mature, second growth trees. The public can access the property from Route 42 via an old pasture road. Two cold water streams on the property flow through Mendel’s Folly into Hockanum Brook. The Natural Diversity Database identifies this area as containing State and Federal Listed Species.

Cheshire

Project Name: Moran/Fenn Road Property
Sponsor: Town of Cheshire
Grant: $202,500 Total Area: 45.1 acres
Description: The Town of Cheshire is seeking to acquire this property that abuts their 201-acre DeDominicis open space property as well as a 10-acre town owned open space parcel to the south. The acquisition will protect approximately 2,600 feet of the Mill River riparian corridor and 18 acres or wetlands. The Mill River is a tributary to Lake Whitney, a public water supply reservoir. A trail will connect this property to the trails on the DeDominicis property by means of an historic wood road and a planned footbridge over the Mill River. The southern end of the property contains an 80 foot bluff overlooking the Mill River and a large glacial erratic. The property has been approved for a 6-lot subdivision. It contains 19 acres of prime or important agricultural soils. The property lies 8 miles from Waterbury and 9 miles from New Haven.

Guilford

Project Name: Bartlett Land Preserve, Bluff Head
Sponsor: Guilford Land Conservation Trust
Grant: $127,500
Total Area: 64 acres
Description: This 64-acre property is part of a traprock ridge at the northern reaches of Totoket Mountain in North Guilford. Totoket Mountain is part of the Metacomet Ridge. The parcel is surrounded by over 400 acres of protected open space owned by the Guilford Land Conservation Trust, the South-Central Regional Water Authority and the Town of Guilford. It contains a wetlands area and lies within the Coginchaug River watershed. The Connecticut Forest and Park Association has Blue-Blazed trails on the property for public use. This acquisition will ensure that the public can continue to use these trails in perpetuity. The GLT will also be acquiring an open space parcel to the east to be incorporated into the preserve.

Meriden

Project Name: 100 Hanover Street
Sponsor: City of Meriden
Grant: $18,690
Total Area: 0.46 acres
Description: The City of Meriden plans to acquire this site for the proposed extension of the regional Quinnipiac Linear greenway trail. It is part of the city’s Harbor Brook Flood Control and Linear Trail Master Plan. If acquired, it would help the city link the completed section of this passive recreational trail in North Meriden to the Meriden Green Park and other parts of the city. Harbor Brook runs through the property which feeds the Quinnipiac River.

New Haven


Project Name: Mill River Trail Urban Green Space
Location: Haven & Exchange Streets, New Haven
Sponsor: City of New Haven & Save the Sound
Grant: $50,000
Description: This project will build a visible and accessible entrance to the Mill River Trail in Fair Haven by converting 4 blocks of degraded roadway and vacant land into a linear trail and green stormwater-capture park. It will provide community access to the city-built Mill River Trail to the north, the recently upgraded Criscuolo Park to the south and to the Mill River. This project will include the removal of degraded pavement and invasive plants, construction of a previous trail system and park entrance, and installation of interpretive signage and benches. Modifications to the site include the replacement of more than 104,000 square feet of impervious surface with a more natural landscape and management and diversion of more than 2.4 million gallons of storm water each year. Green infrastructure will also reduce persistent flooding at the adjacent John S. Martinez School playground.

Hartford County

A light colored and naturally well lit furnished Living Room at Aspen Green
Aspen Green

Much like New Haven County, Hartford County is home to a growing number of businesses, insurance companies, medical centers, financial institutions all reside within the area. Commuters love the ease of public transportation, and renters enjoy affordable housing. If you are looking to move to Hartford County, Aspen Communities has several options available to you. Aspen Green, Aspen Highlands, Aspen Woods and Woodland Green in Bloomfield. If you are lucky enough to already reside in one of our luxury-living communities, check out the areas below that have recently been adopted as open spaces.

Simsbury

Project Name: Meadowood Open Space
Sponsor: Town of Simsbury
Grant: $500,000
Total Area: 138 acres
Description: This is the first stage in a collaborative effort between the Town of Simsbury and the trust for public land to protect a large 288-acre property for open space, trails, historic and cultural significance, farmland and future athletic fields. The first phase of the project and the purpose of this grant application is to protect a 138-acre segment of the property for open space and the historic preservation of a site Martin Luther King, Jr. lived and worked during two summers in his early adult life through a work exchange program with Morehouse College. Three large tobacco farms on the property will be restored and interpretive signage, focusing on the historical significance and natural resource values will be installed.

The State Historic Preservation Office received an American Civil Rights Grant to facilitate placing the property on the National Register of Historic Places. This property connects the 4,400-acre McLean Game Refuge with the Massacoe State Forest linking the two trail systems and creating over 25 miles of trails. The property contains a mixture of forest, wetlands, open fields and early successional shrublands providing habitat for a variety of wildlife but especially ground nesting bird species. The project will protect 32 acres of both primary town aquifer protection areas and aquifer recharge areas. There are approximately 63 acres of prime and statewide important farmland soils on the 138-acre property. The 2.5 miles of old farm roads will be improved and maintained as hiking trails.

Suffield

Project Name: Falkowski Stearns
Sponsor: Town of Suffield
Grant: $157,500
Total Area: 98.5 acres
Description: The Town of Suffield aims to purchase an easement over this property that is entirely underlain by wither Prime Farmland Soils or Farmland Soils of Statewide Importance. The property is a mix of open fields and forested areas containing hardwood tree species such as white, red and black oak, tulip tree and shagbark hickory. There are 6-8 vernal pools on the property and is in the Connecticut River watershed. It encompasses 2600 linear feet of Rawlins Brook, a Class A stream. An NDDB preliminary assessment found four Species of Concern in and around the property including American kestrel, bobolink, wood turtle and Bush’s sedge. Approximately 16 acres of the property directly east of North Main Street will continued to be used for agricultural purposes. The property owners have a forest management plan for the property.

Hartford

Project Name: Affleck Street Community Garden
Location: 154 Affleck Street, Hartford
Sponsor: KNOX, Inc. & City of Hartford
Grant: $6,900
Description: This project will improve public access at this community garden (established June 2011) by installing 8 accessible raised garden beds, 2 picnic benches and a small pavilion. The new garden beds will allow 8 additional Hartford residents to access garden plots. The pavilion will provide shade for gardeners on hot summer days and act as an outdoor classroom. The garden is open to all members of the public and to Hartford residents for low-cost plot rentals. KNOX, Inc provides gardeners with access to seeds, soil, amendments, hand tools and education. Once this project is complete 20 families will have access to raised garden beds.

2021 Grant Rounds Underway

Overview of the Community Garden in Shelton, Connecticut
Community Garden in Shelton, CT. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program and the Urban Green and Community Garden Program are now going through the 2021 grant rounds for DEEP. The applications are due in by September 30, 2021. The decisions will be made based on a ranking system of the value of its natural resources as well as its recreational value. If you would like to learn more about these programs, have a look on DEEP’s Open Space website.

If you would like more information about luxury-living communities in New Haven and Hartford Counties in Connecticut…