NORWALK, Conn. — With an agreement in place for the Norwalk Land Trust to purchase the White Barn property in Norwalk, the 15.4-acre site will be preserved as open space forever, the NLT announced.
“Given its unique biodiversity and benefit to the community it is critical for the community to help NLT save this this property,” said Seeley Hubbard of the Norwalk Land Trust.
The property is located in the Cranbury neighborhood of Norwalk on the Westport border.
Major donations from James and Deborah Fieber and William Fieber of $1 million are kick-starting the fundraising for the purchase. NLT must raise $1 million in additional donations toward the $5 million purchase price by April 1.
NLT is in the process of applying for a loan from The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit, for the remainder of the purchase price.
The Norwalk Land Trust said it is “delighted” that 78 Cranbury II LLC, which has permits to build 15 luxury homes on the property, is willing to work with the land trust to come to an arrangement that will preserve the property as open space in perpetuity.
The NLT stewards and protects 90 acres of open space in Norwalk, including an existing easement on 5.5 acres of the White Barn property. The property was home to the White Barn Theatre, founded by Lucille Lortel, from 1947 until 2002.
The White Barn property is one of the last large privately owned open space properties in Norwalk.
This wooded property, located along Newtown Avenue/Cranbury Road, includes a 1-acre pond that is fed by Stony Brook, which is part of the Saugatuck River Watershed drainage basin.
The Stony Brook watercourse system plays a major role in filtering and providing underground drinking water through a bedrock aquifer system. The majority of households in this section of Norwalk and Westport rely on private drinking water wells.
“Our family has a long history of preservation and responsible development. Conserving this 15.4-acre tract of woodlands, watercourses and pond, preserving open space, protecting wildlife and opening up trails for educational purposes and the public to enjoy, continues our commitment to a sustainable environment and social responsibility," James Fieber said.
Wildlife dependent on this open space include great horned owls, turtles, deer, great blue heron, wood ducks, egrets and countless other birds, mammals, and reptiles. In addition to the pond and woodland, the property also has a significant amount of wetland and a meadow.
In addition, the NLT is exploring joint fund-raising efforts with other organizations such as the White Barn Theater Foundation to create the opportunity to build a contemporary White Barn Theatre.
To learn more about the land trust and to donate, visit norwalklandtrust.org.
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