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Should the town buy Colby land?

CORNWALL — A piece of land deemed highly valuable to the town for its location has been offered for sale.The parcel is about 38 acres off Route 128, between the West Cornwall Firehouse and the town sand and gravel pit, and across from Cornwall Consolidated School. Owner William Colby of Goshen inherited the land from his father about five years ago. Some gravel mining was done there, with limits placed on how much could be removed annually. With a party interested in buying the property, Colby has offered the town the right of first refusal. A price has not yet been discussed. The Board of Selectmen discussed the potential value to the town at its Feb. 21 meeting. A bridge over Mill Brook on the property is out, but the property is easily accessed from the town gravel pit.“There is plenty of sand and gravel there to mine,” First Selectman Gordon Ridgway said. “We save a lot of money every winter by not having to buy it. The property is adjacent to the West Cornwall Firehouse, and we would be able to combine the properties into one parcel of about 60 acres. We couldn’t effectively expand the firehouse without this piece. Not that we have plans, but we are trying to be foresighted.”Board members agreed to look into the potential purchase. A plan would require approval from the Board of Finance and voters at a town meeting.A tour of the property last week was planned, and included a little exploration of a very unique part of Cornwall: Gold’s Pines. Gold’s Pines is a state natural area preserve that, as such, is a freestanding section of the Housatonic State Forest. Short trails lead through a forest of field pines, up Green Mountain, with long views to the northwest. In 1932, the pines became part of research to measure forest growth and are still maintained as a Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. Storm-damaged trees are removed and others are harvested to thin the stand.At the top of the mountain is an area known as The Cobble and a trail system on land owned by the Cornwall Land Trust.The selectmen agreed that it is an important piece of land for the town to own for many reasons. Ridgway said future uses could include school athletic fields.

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