‘Dream Greenway’ in New Canaan Poised for Important Step

The possibility of a “dream greenway” in New Canaan—essentially, a loop that would include a new walk through the woods between Weed Street and Oenoke Ridge Road—is poised to take a major step forward following an application formally received this week by town officials.

Detail of the “Classified Open Space” map from the South Western Regional Planning Agency (http://bit.ly/1nQG3dO). The striped property on the left is Irwin. Catty-corner are two pieces of open space, the northern one of which is just about 425 feet from the corner of the shoehorn-shaped property, which is comprised of both New Canaan Land Trust and New Canaan Nature Center property. If connected, a person could safely and legally walk from downtown New Canaan, up past God’s Acre, along Oenoke to the Nature Center and then through the woods to Weed and Irwin. Credit: SWRPA

Detail of the “Classified Open Space” map from the South Western Regional Planning Agency (http://bit.ly/1nQG3dO). The striped property on the left is Irwin. Catty-corner are two pieces of open space, the northern one of which is just about 425 feet from the corner of the shoehorn-shaped property, which is comprised of both New Canaan Land Trust and New Canaan Nature Center property. If connected, a person could safely and legally walk from downtown New Canaan, up past God’s Acre, along Oenoke to the Nature Center and then through the woods to Weed and Irwin. Credit: SWRPA

A prospect that’s eagerly supported by both the New Canaan Land Trust and New Canaan Nature Center, including board President Skip Hobbs—a prospect, in fact, that includes land owned by each of those venerable nonprofit organizations—the greenway requires only a traversable 425-foot-long strip of land for completion (see map at right).

That land is part of a private property on Weed Street, near the intersection at Wahackme. When that property, on the market for more than one year, recently received an accepted offer, advocates for the greenway—anticipating that its 9-acre lot likely would be subdivided—pointed out that in the case of subdivision, the town could take up to 10 percent of the property, as per New Canaan’s zoning regulations.

Here's part of the application that came into Inland Wetlands for the new accessway to three lots at 929 Weed St. where one now exists.

Here’s part of the application that came into Inland Wetlands for the new accessway to three lots at Weed Street where one now exists.

This month, site plans for that subdivision emerged, including a conservation easement along the property’s northern edge—in other words, the very strip of land required to complete the greenway. On Monday, the Inland Wetlands Commission formally received an application for an accessway to three lots on the property.

Kathleen Holland, director of Inland Wetlands and Watercourses, said the commission set a hearing on the matter for 7 p.m. on Oct. 20.

Once the subdivision and greenway are approved, Land Trust board member John Engel said, either the Land Trust or Nature Center likely would need to request a wetland crossing in order to connect the necessary properties.

The conservation easement indicated at the top of this site plan for 929 Weed St. is the critical strip of land needed to complete the greenway.

The conservation easement indicated at the top of this site plan for a Weed Street property is the critical strip of land needed to complete the greenway.

That likely will be decided by the commission at its hearing, Town Planner Steve Kleppin said.

In any case, the greenway is a possibility, officials have said, largely because of past donations of private property in the area. One donation of five acres to the Land Trust came in 1974, then in the same year two more acres came to the organization— a piece of property that adjoins the Nature Center. In 1977, another 1-acre piece in that area was donated to the Land Trust, officials have said.

If completed, New Canaanites would be able to walk a loop from downtown New Canaan—say, up to the intersection at Weed Street, then to Irwin Park (which itself may eventually connect via sidewalk to the top of Elm), then through the “new” accessway, across Land Trust and Nature Center property through the woods, then out to Oenoke Ridge Road and down toward God’s Acre and the heart of the village again.

Looking north from the Weed Street entrance to Irwin Park on June 4, 2014. If all goes as open space advocates hope, a person could walk up Weed in this direction and find his or her way through the woods to the Nature Center and Oenoke Ridge Road. Credit: Michael Dinan

Looking north from the Weed Street entrance to Irwin Park on June 4, 2014. If all goes as open space advocates hope, a person could walk up Weed in this direction and find his or her way through the woods to the Nature Center and Oenoke Ridge Road. Credit: Michael Dinan

It isn’t clear just how the proposed subdivision relates to the possible sale of the property—whether, for example, the sale is contingent on approval of the 3-lot subdivision (which would preserve the Midcentury Modern home already there).

Asked about the status of the property, listing agent Susan Blabey of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty confirmed that there’s an accepted offer and declined to say more, citing the owner’s privacy and the fact that the deal is not yet done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *