With more than $1 million in private money pledged or donated, the Wilton Land Conservation Trust last week filed its application for a grant from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to help fund its purchase of 183 Ridgefield Road.
“This application is a significant milestone in our efforts to protect this beautiful parcel of land,” said Donna Merrill, the land trust’s executive director.
The application was filed with “widespread support from residents” as well as nearly two dozen letters from state, regional, and municipal representatives, community leaders and civic organizations “extoling the value of 183 Ridgefield Road to our town,” land trust president Peter Gaboriault said. “Given this regional and townwide support, I believe that we have a very strong application, but there’s no guarantee we’ll receive enough to close on the property,” he added.
The land trust began its efforts to purchase the property from the late Jim Fieber in November 2017 and entered into a purchase contract in mid-2018. The land trust initiated a public campaign inviting all residents of Wilton to contribute to the purchase. Since then, more than $1 million of the $2.3 million needed to purchase the property has been pledged or donated.
“We face stiff competition for the State’s Open Space grant funding and still need the townspeople to step up with their donations to close our gap,” Merrill said. “We are deeply grateful that so many families see the need to ‘Save 183’ and hope that in the coming months, more concerned Wiltonians will contribute to this effort.”
The land trust plans to make 183 Ridgefield Road a town-wide resource with new trails and a first-time collaborative partnership with the Wilton Historical Society, Woodcock Nature Center and the American Chestnut Foundation, which will provide educational programs at the site.
The state is expected to announce the grant awards in late 2019.
For more information, a video of the property and to contribute to the purchase to Save 183, visit wiltonlandtrust.org/183/.