The Aspetuck Land Trust’s purchase of a portion of town-owned land on South Park Avenue is expected to be finalized before the end of the month, according to a land trust official.

“We don’t own the property right now, but we have a purchase and sale agreement in place with the town and expect to close before the end of September,“ said Adam Goodman, a land protection specialist at the land trust.

Easton voters last year overwhelmingly approved at a referendum the sale of 18.7 acres at 18 South Park Avenue situated along the Mill River to the Aspetuck Land Trust for $470,000, contingent on a $188,000 Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection grant. The Mill River is a Class 1 Wild Trout Management Area, recognized by state environmental officials.

Goodman said state officials have finalized the grant, and the land trust is waiting to receive the money.

“The grant has been finalized, and we are just waiting for the wire to hit our bank account so we can schedule a closing,“ he said.

Justin Giorlando, the town’s land use consultant, said the purchase and sale agreement between the town and the Aspetuck Land Trust, as required by the grant, was extended to December 2023 due to a backlog of grant awards from DEEP losing employees and various survey requirements.

“At this point, we’ve done everything required and are simply waiting for the funds to be dispersed,” said Giorlando.

Since voters approved the sale, the land trust and the town have followed the guidelines outlined in the grant, said Giorlando. They include the land trust completing the title work on the property to ensure there would be no issues with the sale and incumbrancers on the deed, the town surveying the land and cleaning up the property, which had buried oil and diesel tanks, trash and debris.

Goodman said the time it takes the land trust to close on a property it has agreed to purchase differs.

“Some are quick (1.5 years) and some take longer (2.5+ years),” he said. “I don’t think this acquisition was abnormal, considering all the work Easton needed to do. This included multiple town meetings and a town vote to sell the land to ALT. They also needed to complete a survey and perform a lot line revision to create the 18.7-acre parcel. These things take time, but I am thrilled that all the hard work to protect this land and sensitive river is about to pay off.”

Some in town have questioned a quit claim deed on the property recorded in Town Hall. First Selectman David Bindelglass has said that he mistakenly signed off on a quit deed that states the title of the parcel was transferred to the land trust.  

“ALT is aware of the situation and as soon as they receive the grant [the actual funds] from the state the funds will be transferred to the town and the conveyance will be complete,” Bindelglass stated in his May 12 message.

Goodman said the land trust “didn’t file anything in the land records,” and he did not have any details about the quit claim deed.

When the land trust closes on the sale, it will be responsible for maintaining 18.7 acres of the 29.5 parcel on South Park Avenue the town purchased in 2008 to prevent it from being developed.   

The remaining 10 acres on the property are being preserved by a conservation easement Easton voters approved placing on it last year.

“We are very excited to forever protect these 18.7 acres along the Mill River so we can steward this land for the benefit of the public, the trout, and all future generations,” said Goodman.

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