State approves spending to buy coastal maritime forest

OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH)– The state has taken a giant step in preserving what is considered the last coastal maritime forest between New York and Boston. The 1,000-acre property, known as The Preserve, is in Old Saybrook, Essex, and Westbrook.

The land was owned by Lehman Brothers and slated for development, but Lehman Brothers went belly up seven years ago. The $8 million price tag is considered the best opportunity that the state, the town, and land preservation organizations will ever have to save this for passive recreation use.

Monday, the Governor and the State Bonding Commission approved spending the last chunk of that price tag, $2 million, to close the deal. Old Saybrook residents are paying $3 million and the rest is coming from the feds.

“It’s very important to the town,” said State Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Saybrook, after Monday’s vote. “I believe it was about 89-percent of the vote in favor of purchasing The Preserve with the $3 million from the town.”

“The property that I own that abuts The Preserve is also open and wooded space,” said Bob Lorenz. “It’s how I grew up, and it’s a lifestyle that I appreciate and I think is important.”

It’s not only important for its beauty and recreational uses, but the land also acts like a giant sponge which can greatly help to absorb storm surge in that area.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” said Lorez. “It’s absolutely gorgeous and we’re lucky that it’s kind of survived up to the present, and now it’s going to be that way forever.”

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