The state, several shoreline towns and land trusts have agreed to spend more than $8 million to buy the last large tract of unprotected coastal forest between Boston and New York — a 1,000 acre plot near Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River.
Officials said Friday the deal ends a 15-year battle to save the property from commercial development, and that the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy and 2008 stock market crash were critical factors in making the land available at a more affordable price.
Long-running negotiations brought the selling price down from about $15 million, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy. The property has been known for decades as “The Preserve.”
Environmental groups praised the deal, saying it would save a critical area of open space and wildlife habitat. The property includes portions of Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook.
The state’s share of the agreement will require the General Assembly to approve $1.9 million new bonding before the end of the 2014 session on May 7. The town of Old Saybrook is planning a June referendum to authorize local borrowing of more than $3 million. An additional $1.4 million federal funds for the purchase of open space will also be used. Another $2-3 million will be put in for the purchase by the private, non-profit group Trust for Public Land.