Easton Welcomes New Residents

The Easton housing market has picked up tremendously in the last year and the trend shows no signs of stopping. According to a report by Brown Harris Stevens, in the first quarter of 2021, 33 houses closed in Easton — a 22.2% increase from last year. This hot housing market has also caused the average days on the market to drop, and property values to go up.

“To be quite honest, I think the prices are back where they should be,” said Allison Sternberg of Brown Harris Stevens. Sternberg helps individuals and families relocate from New York to the area and gets calls daily from people around New York City looking to buy a home in Connecticut.

A market report by Stacy Varvaro of William Raveis additionally shows the continued upward trend of Easton house sales and prices. The inventory of available houses on the market continues to decrease and houses are also selling faster than in recent years.

The increasing property values benefits the town, First Selectman David Bindelglass explained at the New Town Residents meeting in March. Real estate in the town undergoes revaluation every five years, during which the town estimates the value of all property in town. The higher the total value, the lower the mill rate is. The revaluation process began earlier this year.

Although there are no official statistics, many of the new residents settling in Easton are young families.

Impact On Schools

The influx of new families has already begun to have an impact on the Easton school system. During the fall, Samuel Staples Elementary School enrolled as many as six new children each month. In fall 2019, the elementary school enrolled just one child a month during the same time period. In the past, bringing a new student into the classroom was a relatively routine process, but during Covid the process became more complicated.

The pandemic prevented prospective residents from visiting the schools while classes were in session, although SSES Principal Kimberley Fox Santora did schedule tours after hours when students and staff had left for the day. A rapidly growing student population also requires the resources necessary to support the newest members of Easton’s learning community, which became especially challenging with unprecedented social distancing requirements.

“Adding kids has an impact in terms of space,” said Fox Santora. “We have to have the spacing between students, desks are three to six feet apart and everyone is facing forward.”

However, Fox Santora noted that the teachers adapted well throughout the recently concluded school year, and they were able to adjust as needed in order to get children settled into their classrooms. Fox Santora also noted that–despite the challenges and social obstacles presented by the pandemic–when students meet their new classmates, “kids do the same kinds of welcoming gestures they’ve always done.”

Picking Easton

According to Sternberg, who has lived in Easton for 30 years, “The schools are definitely one of the top priorities” for young families that choose to live in Easton. “And now that people can work from home, they’re loving the fact that they can walk outside.” As a Realtor, she also highlights the proximity to the Merritt Parkway, which makes it easy to commute to New York or New Haven.

New resident Noel McNamara grew up in New York but came to Connecticut for school. While in graduate school studying to become a school psychologist, she worked at Christ Church and fell in love with Easton. She was amazed by the many opportunities Easton children have to play outside.

When she left Christ Church to complete her teaching practicum, she continued babysitting for a family in Easton and began bringing the child to readings at the Easton Public Library. “We had such a great time,” McNamara said. “The librarians are awesome.”

During the New Town Residents meeting, Bindelglass mentioned the many farms in town, and longtime residents in attendance also emphasized the benefits of living down the road from farms that sell everything from fresh eggs to locally grown vegetables. This, too, was a draw for McNamara: “The milk from Shaggy Coos is the best I’ve had. Ever.”

Community Spirit

Although many Easton community events over the past year were cancelled due to the pandemic, things continue to open back up. The sense of community in Easton remains strong and continues to attract new residents. Even during the pandemic, McNamara found that walking her dog was still a great way to meet her new neighbors.

As vaccination rates continue to increase, flagship Easton community events such as the Fireman’s Carnival will return this summer, offering residents, new and old, the opportunity to get to know each other and to enjoy the beautiful rural community they all call home.

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