The Mill River flows through the town-owned property on South Park Avenue. Photo by Nancy Moon.

The sale of a 19-acre parcel of town-owned land on South Park Avenue to the Aspetuck Land Trust has been finalized, according to a press release issued by First Selectman David Bindelglass and ALT leaders.

There will be a signing ceremony in the near future. The property will be named in honor of the late former Easton First Selectman William Kupinse Jr. and his wife Patricia.

The sale follows Easton voters’ overwhelming approval (65%) by town referendum in May 2022 to sell the property to ALT. The land includes the Mill River, classified as a Class 1 Wild Trout Management Area, with streams cold and clean enough for wild brook and brown trout to naturally reproduce year-round. Only nine such rivers exist in Connecticut. 

The town sold the parcel to ALT for $470,000, contingent on a $188,000 Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection grant. 

In the press release, Bindelglass described the sale as significant not only because it assures that one of the most environmentally fragile pieces of land in Easton will be permanently preserved under the ALT’s stewardship, but also because the sale marks the first time Easton voters were able to decide the fate of town property by referendum as required by the Land Use Ordinance passed in 2021 by Town Meeting via referendum. 

“It’s not only essential that we preserve priceless open spaces along this portion of the Mill River, but that we enable broad and inclusive public discussion about how to protect and manage our open spaces in Easton, and ultimately decide those issues with a town-wide referendum to ensure that everyone has a voice,” Bindelglass stated in the press release. “Completing this transfer today is a stunning example of how we can work together to find the best preservation solutions together.” 

ALT President and Easton resident William Kragel said ALT is extremely pleased to partner with Easton to permanently preserve and conserve the South Park property.

“The town began this preservation effort in 2020, through its original purchase of the entire property, and we look forward to providing safe public access to residents of the Town of Easton and the general public,“ Kragel stated in the press release. “We are naming the property in honor the late William Kupinse Jr. and his wife, Patricia. Bill, a former ALT director and Easton first selectman, was instrumental in facilitating the town’s purchase of the property.”

In 2008, Easton purchased the entire 29.5-acre parcel on South Park Avenue “to shield it from development but without a plan to permanently preserve or maintain it,” according to the press release.

Last year, voters approved a conservation restriction on the remaining 10 acres of the parcel with a clause that allows the New England Prayer Center to use and occupy the property it leases from the town. 

The 19 acres of the South Park property adds to the ALT’s Green Corridor to protect land, wildlife, and water resources that extend through lower Fairfield county.

“We had good leadership in the town, and Easton voters made their feelings known in a town-wide ballot, voting overwhelmingly to permanently conserve the land and sell it to Aspetuck Land Trust,” ALT Executive Director David Brandt stated in the press release. “Thank you to our donors and to the Connecticut DEEP OSWA (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant program) for supporting this acquisition. This is a win-win for the town and for the environment.“

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