When Newtown bought 17.5 acres for open space last winter for $350,000, First Selectman Herb Rosenthal thought it was a good deal.

That deal just got better. The state announced Thursday it was giving $6.8 million to 24 cities and towns Tuesday to preserve open space. Newtown was awarded $157,500, which helps pay for the 17.5 acres it bought last winter. "This would go to future open-space purchases," Rosenthal said. The land, known as Laurel Trail, is a rugged, heavily sloped wooded area with nearly 1,600 feet along the Housatonic River. The town bought the land partly to prevent development along the property. Driving to Newtown on Interstate 84 from Southbury, the property is visible from the Rochambeau Memorial Bridge. Southbury also benefited from the state's open space grants. The
Southbury Land Trust , a nonprofit group, was given more than $331,000 to help protect 41 acres of the Mitchell Farm, a family run farm since 1759. The family still owns and runs the 470 acre property. But this grant lets the land trust get closer to owning the development rights to the 41-acre section. By owning the development rights, the Land Trust could limit any construction on the farm.
Tom Crider , president of the land trust, said it would cost about $1.1 million to buy the rights. "It's a very good start," Crider said about the state grant. "We wouldn't be able to do it without it." The property lies next to the National Audubon Society preserve called Bent in the River. "It protects the greenway of protected space," he said.

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