WOODBURY – Voters at the Town Meeting approved the Sherwood Property land purchase Monday night by an overwhelming majority, 125-36.
The town will purchase the 13.88 piece of property for $89,000, which will come from the town’s open-space fund and not cause a tax increase.
The Sherwood Property will provide access to town-owned Castle Rock property, which it borders. The Castle Rock property also borders Hollow Park, which will provide a larger contiguous open space.
The Sherwood Property purchase had been supported by the Conservation Commission, and
the Planning Commission, and is consistent with the Plan of Conservation and Development.
But the Board of Finance did not approve the purchase at its November 15 meeting. Instead, the board unanimously voted to require a 2/3 majority at the Town Meeting to approve the proposed purchase of the Sherwood Property.
The Board of Finance felt that there had not been a compelling rationale for or plan to use and maintain the property and, therefore, that the final decision should be made by more than a simple majority at Monday’s meeting, said Board of Finance Chairman Alex DeSorbo.
DeSorbo said he learned more about the property from the questions and comments at the Town Meeting than the Board of Finance learned when the proposal was presented to them.
Several voters spoke in favor of the purchase during the questions and comments session. But a few voters cited town’s lack of vision for what to do with the property, using the 2015 purchase of the Aquarion Property as a case in point, as a reason to vote against the purchase.
First Selectman Bill Butterly said the town’s initial idea was to use the Sherwood Property as a frisbee golf course, and that it would not be used solely as open space. But with the terrain of the property, which includes some dangerous drop-offs, the town felt hiking trails would be a better bet.
Butterly brought up clearing a way for future access to the property, and the possibility of adding parking spaces. That prompted Steve Tranguch, who is a member of the Board of Finance, to ask if the vote should be delayed until future costs to taxpayers are determined.
Lee Sherwood, who owns the property, spoke about his need to sell the property, and why he wanted to give the Town of Woodbury the first crack at acquiring it. Sherwood said he could sell the property for more money to someone who would then build on the property, but say great opportunities for the town to do many things with it down the road.