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Council Seeks Acquisition of Cedar Mt. Land

September 29, 2017
NEWINGTON - The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recommended three years ago that Office of Policy Management (OPM) pass off undevelopable portions of Newington’s Cedar Mountain to the town, and now the Town Council is asking their legislative delegation to push for some follow through.

       The issue was raised by Councilor Gail Budrejko, who was involved with a grassroots group of residents dedicated to halting prospective development on Cedar Mountain a few years ago. Under a DEEP’s recommendation, the land-two treks along the Mountain’s western slope-would be passed along to the Town at no cost.

       “It’s been three years, and it hasn’t happened yet,” Budrejko said. “This would help us protect it in its natural state, and the wildlife there. It would also preserve the aesthetic beauty, which also provides a natural buffer from the Berlin Turnpike.”

       Budrejko presented the Council with a letter she had written requesting assistance from the legislative delegation, asking that they sign on with her, to which members of both parties agreed.

       “I drafted a letter, but then I said, ‘who am I?’” she said.

       Budrejko said that she has had conversations with Town Planner Craig Minor, who in turn contacted personnel from DEEP and OPM. She said that while the indication was that OPM still plans to follow through with DEEP’s recommendation, but that she would like to see the process expedited.

       “I think if each of the councilors would sign it, it would have more bearing,” said Councilor Carol Anest. “We really need to take a stand to get this property into our land trust.”

       The Cedar Mountain saga began with a proposed Russell Road development plan for back in 2008, and preceded the town adding the area as a major priority for open space preservation under its 2020 Plan for Development and Conservation.

       With the help of a Senator Doyle and then-State Representative Sandy Nafis secured grant, the Town was able to purchase the Marcap property portion of the Mountain.

       “There hasn’t been an opportunity to purchase other property or preserve more of the mountain [since],” Budrejko said.

       The portions being looked at now were identified as surplus land back in 2012-2013, with DEEP making its recommendation in 2014-due to the fact that it was deemed to have “no economic value”, she said.

       “I think it’s a great idea,” said Councilor Tim Manke. “I will sign anything you put before me that will transfer this surplus property to the town. It’s an important thing, we’ve worked on getting this far and we should move forward.”

       Correction: The print version of this article incorrectly name Council Minority Leader Carol Anest as a former State Representative, instead of Sandy Nafis. We apologize for the error.