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Monday, April 03, 2006

Polly Brody Forest Road and Polly Brody

So, I get a notification this afternoon there is a post to my ATV article from none other than Polly Brody (aka Polly Alcott), who happens to be the person that the Polly Brody forest road was recently dedicated to by the town of Newtown. At first I thought it might be an ATV'er wanting to express his/her views on Bill 5806 and I have been hoping for some intelligent conversation from the ATV'er who originally posted a comment on the merrits of this bill but that was not the case.

It turns out that Ms Alcott googles her name to see who is using it and referring to her publications and thus she came across my blow because I have been using it alot since the dedication. Before that, I never had a good word for it and from people I spoken to around town its referred to a few different names. The main names seem to be:
  1. The Forest Road
  2. The Logging Road
  3. The Jeep Trail
  4. The Rip-Rap Road
  5. The Fire Road
It turns out that Ms Alcott was instrumental in getting the State to acquire the land that is now known as the Upper Paugussett State Forest. The land was originally called The Mullikin Tract.
Mr. Mullikin (who lived in New Canaan) did have plans to develop the tract with 350 projected home sites, but there was NOT an organized "fierce opposition" to this, in the town. I was Chairman of the Conservation Commission at that time. We had finished providing the Open Space Plan for Newtown (one of the first to do so) following the State's enactment of P.A. 490.

Among the designated open space areas, the Mullikin Tract was our prime recommendation for purchase. Over a two year period, we took our proposal to TWO town meetings--one under a Democratic administration and one under a Republican administration! Despite the fact that our Commission obtained a promise of 50% funding from the federal Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR), the town turned down purchase. By the way, we members of the Conservation Commission had payed for an independent appraisal of this property out of our
own pockets! It valued the land at $800,000. I remember one person (a Realtor) saying at one town meeting: "the place is a worthless goat pasture!"

After butting our heads against the wall in Newtown, I took our proposal for preservation to the Nature Conservancy. They turned it down because the land was not considered to be ecologically "unique." Then I turned to the State. I had done a bio-assay of the land (its
flora and fauna), and we paid privately, for a topographical overlay. I wrote the Governor, and
rallied other persons in Hartford. Officials from the Forestry Department, and I think from DEP, walked over the land with me...I recall a great guy named Joe Ward. The Bond Commissioner found funds available, and endorsed purchase. Now it is a State Forest.

We saved the town the cost of a school that would have been needed for the kids of those 350 homes! We also saved the cost of miles of town road that would have had to be built and maintained, to serve that peninsula.

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