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Fairfield Takes On More Open Space

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield residents will have a newly cleaned up open space to visit this summer after the town got its final approval to take over a small patch of open space on Cross Highway on Monday night.

The patch of land is a triangle of about 1.2 acres along Cross Highway, next to the Merritt Parkway . The land is empty, and after the Representative Town Meeting’s vote Monday night, it will stay that way. The board included a clause that says the land must be used only for passive recreation.

“I don’t want to be turned into a playground, or a softball field, or anything else,” said Rep. Hal Schwartz, who proposed adding the clause.

The Conservation Department will do about $1,000 worth of work to improve parking and safety at the site. But the land remain an undeveloped open space similar to spots lining the Mill River along Brookside Drive.

The land had been owned by the state since 1937. The Department of Transportation offered to sell the spot to the town for a $1,000 conveyance fee as part of a program to get unused land off the state’s ledgers. The state kept the right to take back the land at any time if needed for the Merritt Parkway.

Some other members of the board expressed doubts about the plan, in part because of the clause that would allow the state to reclaim the land. Rep. Mary McCullough also pointed out that because the land is too small to develop according to the town’s zoning law, it would stay open no matter what.

“There’s no advantage for us to own this property,” McCullough said. “Whether the state owns it, or we own it, it’s going to be available, and it’s going to stay in its current state.”

The RTM voted to take on the land by a 24-19 vote, with two abstentions Monday night. Conservation Director Thomas Steinke said cleanup work will begin in June.

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