Farmers don't last forever and Hapanowich, now 80, a former first selectman, wanted the farm to last. Now the farmer and his town won't have to worry. The town voted to spend up to $1 million from its open space fund to buy about 40 acres of the farm.
The farm's other 45 acres will be sold to a private individual who will then transfer ownership to the Naromi Land Trust.
The land trust will eventually use some of the farm buildings for storage and offices. There also is a plan to keep "Happy Acres," as the farm is known, as a working farm.
This is a complex arrangement, but reflective of the way municipalities are being creative to protect open spaces and stretch dollars.
It's a wise investment. Open space preservation maintains the character of a community and saves money. Poorly planned development actually increases local budgets -- requiring more spending on schools, roads, public safety and other services.
Danbury, Ridgefield and Newtown have long been leaders in preserving open space. It has taken money, but mostly good planning.
Danbury is now planning new open space purchases, thanks to a $6.6 million open space fund approved by the voters.
There are more spaces that need preserving than there are dollars. City consultant Jack Kozuchowski has written a report on 13 potential purchases.
He ranks the Bethel-owned Terre Haute property in Danbury as "the prize" of the 13. But he says the city should make Sanfords Pond, on the west side, its priority. The wetlands create the headwaters for the Still River and Lake Kenosia.
Why not make Terre Haute the priority? Because of political disputes in Bethel.
Terre Haute straddles the Danbury-Bethel border. Part of the land in Bethel is reserved for expansion of the town's industrial park. But the rest of the land in Bethel is not appropriate for development. The section of Terre Haute in Danbury also is not appropriate for development. Any development on it would require the approval of the city's land-use commissions.
Terre Haute should not be a political football in Bethel. Working together, the town's elected officials could preserve Terre Haute and even get money from Danbury and state open space funds for that preservation.