A newly acquired parcel of land located at Hecker Avenue will be renamed Hecker Woods following a vote from the Board of Selectmen on Monday evening. After spending several years working to approve and finalize the deal, the town purchased a 1.25 acre plot at 41 Hecker Avenue from Spring Grove Cemetery with the help of the Darien Land Trust.
Located behind the Spring Grove Cemetery, the land stretches from the portion of Hecker Avenue near the police department across to Town Hall, the Mather Center and the Holahan Fields on Renshaw Road. Town officials have agreed to maintain the space by removing invasive plants and have discussed the possibility of constructing a walking path from Hecker Avenue to Town Hall. While the Parks & Recreation Department will manage the space, it will not be designated as an official park.
The Darien Land Trust, a local organization dedicated to preserving and maintaining open space in town, contributed half of the $275,000 purchase price for the property with the caveat that the land be protected by a conservation easement. A open space and watershed grant to the town from the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection provided the funding for the rest of the purchase, allowing the town to acquire 41 Hecker Avenue with no direct cost.
“The Darien Land Trust was eager to support the acquisition since there are very few open space parcels located in our more densely developed areas of town,” First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said in a statement on Wednesday. “The proximity of this open space parcel to the Stony Brook River will serve as an important passive flood mitigation amenity and may, someday, provide a convenient pedestrian connection.”
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said the process of securing the grant and negotiating with the Darien Land Trust took nearly four years to complete. Darien’s Representative Town Meeting approved the purchase in March of this year, about a year after the Board of Selectmen approved a gift from the Darien Land Trust for the purchase.
Because the property is located in a flood zone some RTM members were concerned that a conservation easement could prevent the town from altering the space for flood mitigation purposes. However, other town officials contended that preserving the land as open space and preventing development would keep the problem from growing worse in the area.
Months later the space is now officially town property and will soon be available for residents to enjoy. The new name, Hecker Woods will be placed on a sign on the property, which will also credit the Darien Land Trust and the state for their contributions.