Saturday, September 15, 2007

A little More on the Wyndygoul Property

Pair take in town's new property

By Hoa NguyenStaff WriterSeptember 11, 2007

Raindrops began falling yesterday as Eric Brower and Denise Savageau began walking the Tuchman property for the first time since the town officially closed on the sale of 31 acres.They made their way under the canopy of trees, passing the shag bark and through a maze of ground vegetation that included poison ivy vines. Overhead, a red-tailed hawk swooped toward distant trees. Nearby was a field of waist-high golden rods with their pretty blooms of yellow flowers. In the distance was a sloping hillside of more meadows and oaks."It's beautiful," said Brower, a land-use consultant and head of the town's property committee who began working on the land deal more then seven years ago.According to Brower's estimates, he and Savageau, the town's conservation director, have visited the property on 200 prior occasions but yesterday was the first time they could finally say they were walking on town property.On Thursday, Greenwich ended seven years of delay by signing a final contract with Lucy Eisenberg and Jessica Mathews, descendants of two-time Pulitizer Prize-winning author Barbara Tuchman, to buy their share of their late mother's land for $8.7 million."Rather than selling to a developer at the appraised value of $18 (million) to $20 million, we sold it to the town," Eisenberg said yesterday. "Essentially, we're gifting it to the town."A third sister, Alma Tuchman, had initially agreed to the land sale, but eventually pulled out because she wanted to have greater control of the land on which she still lives. The other two have long since moved away. In 2004, a judge ruled Tuchman would retain 12.5 acres.The town now owns 200 acres of contiguous open space, which is bounded in the north by the 91-acre Montgomery Pinetum, on the west by the 75-acre Pomerance property and now on the east by the 31-acre Tuchman parcel.Eisenberg said she believes that at some point, her sister may sell the rest of the land to the town so that it could be added to the inventory."That would be my hope," Eisenberg said.Tuchman could not be reached for comment.The Pomerance and Tuchman properties once belonged to Boy Scouts of America founder Ernest Thompson Seton, who later sold it to banker Maurice Wertheim. Ownership later reverted to Barbara Tuchman, his daughter, who lived on 43 acres, and noted architect Ralph Pomerance, who was married to another daughter, Josephine Alma Wertheim, and owned 75 acres.Through the decades, the land has been popular with town residents, said Eisenberg, who remembered ice skaters taking to the man-made pond Seton had built by damming the Strickland Brook."Back in those old days, everyone would come and skate in the winter," Eisenberg said. "Many, many people know about it. It's a beautiful piece of property."The open space also serves as a sanctuary for native habitat that makes the property ecologically important, officials said."We have a nice diverse habitat," said Brower, who also serves on the town's Conservation Commission. "You've got an open meadow. You've got a wet meadow. You've got the steep slope and within the forest, a bunch of significant white oaks."Though the land is now publicly owned, a few other things must happen before the public can use it. One will be to delineate where the town's property ends and Alma Tuchman's begins so that signs can be placed to inform the public, officials said.Eisenberg's and Mathews' Greenwich lawyer, Michael Jones, also said that an environmental cleanup of flyash from the land is still outstanding. Flyash, once a popular substance used to build horse riding rinks, is considered a toxin and requires an environmental remediation."We're hoping to get the work started in the next month or so," Jones said.
Copyright © 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

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