Saturday, September 15, 2007

Seton's Wyndygoul Property Now Owned by the Town of Greenwich

from Greenwich Time

Town takes control of Tuchman property

By Hoa Nguyen
Staff Writer

September 7, 2007

Boy Scouts of America founder Ernest Thompson Seton once owned it and so did two-time Pulitzer-Prize winning author Barbara Tuchman.

Yesterday, the land officially became property of the town of Greenwich for $8.7 million, ending a years-old effort to purchase the 31 acres of pristine meadows, wetlands and forested hillside in Cos Cob.

The town has been eyeing the former Tuchman estate for decades, finally getting past the legal troubles and negotiation that has plagued the sale.

"It's been a long road, but all good things are worth waiting for," Conservation Director Denise Savageau said.

The Tuchman estate dates to the early 20th century when Seton sold the land as part of a larger estate to Tuchman's father, banker Maurice Wertheim, also the former owner of The Nation magazine. Tuchman inherited the property, living there until her death in 1989.

Though her two daughters, Lucy Eisenberg and Jessica Mathews, were willing to sell the land to the town, a third daughter, Alma Tuchman, resisted efforts to relinquish total control of the original 43.5 acres.

About three years ago, a judge ruled that Alma Tuchman would retain 12.5 acres, with the rest going to her two sisters. The town then moved to negotiate with Eisenberg and Mathews for the remaining 31 acres, but more delays ensued after fly ash was discovered in the soil. Though fly ash once was a common material used in the construction of horse riding rinks, it is now considered a toxic pollutant that requires an environmental clean-up.

After more months of negotiation, the town and the two Tuchman sisters finalized the sales agreement and yesterday, the papers transferring ownership of the land were signed, officials said.

First Selectman Jim Lash, who helped negotiate the final deal, is the third first selectman to work on the land purchase, which began during Lolly Prince's administration in 2000. He said his successor will have the job of helping the town determine what the land will be used for.

"I'm trying to leave a little work for the new first selectman," Lash said. "That's the thing that will need to be worked out in the next administration."

While passive recreation, such as hiking, will be one of the primary activities allowed on the land, officials said the town will likely consider other uses, such as for the construction of some affordable housing.

"They're talking about a very limited development and basically limiting the bulk of its use as open space," Savageau said, adding that one of the reasons the town bought the land was so that most of it could be preserved as open space.

"If it was sold commercially, for real estate, it would have been developed very intensively," Savageau said. "That was one of the selling points, to avoid the cost of that intensive residential development."

The Tuchman property is adjacent to other town-owned open space parcels, such as the 75-acre Pomerance property and the 91-acre Montgomery Pinetum.

"This Tuchman property was always this linchpin between the other properties," Savageau said. "There's a whole host of things that we're going to be looking at with this parcel."
Copyright © 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

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