Mountain View parcel saved- Goshen Land Trust celebrates 127-acre purchase
GOSHEN – U.S. Rep. Elizabeth H. Esty helped the Goshen Land Trust celebrate the acquisition of a signature property on Saturday.
The Mountain View Preserve, a 127-acre parcel in the northeast corner of town that offers a stunning view of the Taconic Range to the northwest, was the site of a gathering that paid tribute to the land trust’s lengthy effort to buy the property. The goal was to protect the land from development and use it for passive public recreation in perpetuity.
“I wanted to be here to acknowledge the incredible work the land trust has done to acquire this wonderful property,” Esty told a crowd of more than 40, most of whom hiked to the 1,531-foot summit of the property on Saturday. “Your persistence and patience is admirable.”
Esty stood on a stone overlook and admired the distant views of Bear Mountain in Connecticut, Mount Everett in Massachusetts and other hills in the Taconic Range. She said Mountain View Preserve is part of a growing wedge of land being preserved in Litchfield County by land trusts and other conservation organizations.
“The people who live in this part of the state appreciate the land,” Esty said. “You only need to look at this view to understand why it is so important to them.”
On a clear day at Mountain View, which wasn’t the case on Saturday, five peaks in New York’s Catskill Mountains are visible beyond the Taconic Range.
The Goshen Land Trust purchased Mountain View for $765,000 in December 2016, at least 17 years after first expressing interest in it, according to land trust President Barry Donaldson. Goshen’s interest in the property dates back to 1980, when the town’s Conservation Commission declared it a priority for conservation, he said.
Though the land trust was interested in the property, it lacked the money to buy it until last year. A grant from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection covered half of the purchase price. Donations of $200,000 from the Housatonic Valley Association’s Greenprint Collaborative member pledge fund and $66,700 from the Wiederhold Foundation of Torrington, as well as money raised by the land trust, took care of the balance.
The property was purchased from Louis and Christine Friedrich of Goshen, who in 2014 bought the land from a developer for its appraised value of $765,000. The developer’s plan to build a house on the overlook fell through and the property was placed on the market for $2.5 million in 2010.
“In 2014 we approached the owner and asked if he would sell it to us at the appraised value, and he reluctantly said yes,” Donaldson said.
Still lacking the cash to pay the appraised price, the land trust found a savior in the Friedrichs. Aware of the land trust’s interest in the property, the couple agreed to buy it and hold onto it until the trust could raise enough money for a purchase.
“They stepped forward and said they liked the story of the land, and that they would buy it and keep it for us,” Donaldson said of the Friedrichs. “There was no way we could have gone out and borrowed that amount of money.”
Donaldson presented the Friedrichs with a plaque featuring a photo of the view from the overlook.
“This represented a small token of our love for Goshen,” Louis Friedrich said of buying the land and holding it for the land trust. “Goshen represents hard work and an appreciation for the land God created, so it was something we were pleased to do.”
Donaldson also thanked attorney Peter Ebersol of Torrington for providing free legal services as the property transitioned to the Friedrichs, and the members of the land trust’s board of directors. In all, Donaldson said the cost to the land trust of purchasing the property and covering associated expenses was $850,000.
The time and money spent on the purchase was worth it, according to Donaldson’s predecessor as president, Christopher Craig.
“Getting this property was a major coup for us,” Craig said.
“It has put us on the map among conservation organizations. We would have been devastated had (the sale) not gone through.”