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Seeking control of the Masonic Lodge property

NORTH CANAAN — The future of the former Masonic Lodge property on Route 44 and the Housatonic River was discussed by the Board of Selectmen at their regular meeting on Tuesday, July 13.

The property was purchased in December by the state, for $140,000. The status of the property and any role that the town might play in its future, and whether it represents an opportunity for recreational development, led the selectmen to agree to clarify the matter with the state officials.

Residents who spoke at the meeting urged that any action taken in connection with that property should be voted on by the town.

Whether the existing structure is slated for demolition — and if so, who would be responsible for the work — was also a matter to be discussed with the appropriate state entity.

The property was purchased with the intention of creating a safe access point to the Housatonic River for recreational uses.

Tim Abbott of the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA) was at the meeting and observed that the town had not been involved in the December purchase. But he also said that the town can be in the driver’s seat now if it wants a say in the management of the property.

“The project could be good for the town if the town agrees to participate,” Selectman Christian Allyn said, saying that North Canaan is the only town along the river that does not offer recreational access. 

Steep riverbanks as the river passes through North Canaan limit opportunities for such access. An exception is the nearly water-level terrain offered by the Masonic property.

Abbott told the selectmen, “This is the time for the town to decide what you want to see happen there.” He said that the state is interested in a partnership with the town. “I see it as an opportunity,” he added.

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