It's About the Land 12-31-2010

Totoket Times, December 31, 2010

The North Branford Land Conservation Trust, Incorporated
It's About The Land

We take our open spaces for granted-until they are on the verge of development and extinction. In the late 1960's, New Haven Water Company proposed the sale of land on the Farm River in Northford known as the Brush Shop Pond tract. The tract, bisected by the Farm River, contained about 20 acres, bordered by the Middletown Tpk on the west and farmland on the east. It was being offered to the Town pursuant to a state law requiring water companies to offer land of more than 3 acres to the town before such land could be sold for development

The Brush Shop Pond tract in the 19th century was the site of small industrial manufucturing enterprises using water power from a mill pond behind a dam constructed of sandstone blocks cut from a local quarry. The buildings, by 1968, were long gone but much of the old dam and tail race remained until a June 1972 storm washed out the dam. The First Selectman's office received the notice and offer but did not respond, allowing the Town's opportunity to purchase the tract for around $10,000 to lapse. The land was sold in June 1968 to a private developer who built a restaurant. A number of residents familiar with the property were incensed by the Town's failure to at least acknowledge that it had received notice of the proposed sale, and when it became known, it was too late. The failure to act, however, inspired the birth of the North Branford Land Conservation Trust. For at least a decade or longer, the North Branford Land Conservation Trust would continue playing an active role in land conservation such as the town's acquisition in the 1970's of the North Farms tract bordering the Branford River off Route 139 from the New Haven Water Company. But by the late 1990's, the Land Trust was on life support, being kept alive by Edmund Pantani, its president. Ed passed away on August 14, 2008 leaving just a few individuals to keep the organization alive.

The organization is now looking forward to rebuilding for the future: to regroup, rebuild the membership, and reestablish itself as a private organization that will help protect our Town's natural environment. The Land Trust can play a role in implementing at least some parts of our town's open space plan. But to be effective, the land trust needs members. For more information about joining the North Branford Land Conservation Trust, send an email to, or plan to attend the next meeting of the NBLCT’s board at the Atwater Library, Wednesday January 5, 7:00 pm.


Otto Schaefer, Acting President
The North Branford Conservation Land Trust, Incorporated