The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) unanimously approved a bond act to protect a large piece of property adjacent to the Teatown Lake Reservation, an initiative that has been in the works for several years and which will greatly enhance the existing trail system in the area.
The $1.5 million that the BOL recently approved will go toward acquisition costs for a conservation easement over approximately 59 acres of woodlands known as the Gilbert property, which is located along Spring Valley Road and Route 134 in the Town of Yorktown and the Town of New Castle.
The conservation easement on the property, which borders Teatown Lake Reservation, an 834-acre nature preserve and environmental educational center, will limit use of the Gilbert property as a passive park and expand the County’s open space network and inter-municipal trail system with linkages to existing County parks and trails.
“The purchase of this important, environmentally sensitive property is a good example of how the Westchester County’s leaders can work in tandem and dovetail their efforts for the sake of future generations,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “Staying committed to this kind of cooperation will lead to more successful initiatives, achievements and investments to benefit our residents and business owners.”
Because the Gilbert property lies within the Croton watershed, limiting its use as a passive park will also protect the drinking water supply, as well as provide ecological protection to Teatown Lake and adjacent wetlands and wildlife habitats.
The property is owned presently by Open Space Institute, so the legislation is contingent upon Teatown acquiring title to the property. An appraisal is currently being conducted to confirm the value of the easement, and if the appraisal is less than $1.5 million, the County will only pay for the appraised value of the property.
In consideration for the County acquiring the conservation easement, Teatown has agreed to operate and maintain the trailways and parking areas at the following County owned parks: John Hand Park (northeast of Ossining); Briarcliff-Peekskill Trailway; and Kitchawan Preserve in the Town of Yorktown. The management agreement will run for a period of 20 years or until the County’s bonds issued for the acquisition of the property are fully amortized, whichever period is greater.
“Our continuing investment in protecting open spaces and undeveloped land in Westchester is what makes this county so special,” Jenkins added. “It is my hope that our residents dedicate some time in 2012 to visiting the County’s parks and trailways to experience the unique pleasures of outdoor life.”
Teatown Lake Reservation, a nonprofit, environmental organization located in the Lower Hudson Valley in the Towns of Yorktown, Cortlandt, and New Castle, is part of more than 2,000 protected acres of county and state parkland and New York City watershed property. Numerous regional hiking trails, including the North County Trailway and Old Croton Aqueduct Trailway, traverse the greater Teatown area. The organization runs the nature preserve and an education center in an effort to conserve biodiversity, teach ecology and promote nature-friendly living.