It's up to the Parks and Recreation Department to put the .57-acre property on Short Lane to use if the Representative Town Meeting approves the purchase of the land that is surrounded by Weed Beach.
The Board of Selectmen approved the $1.925 million appropriation to purchase 4 Short Lane and for demolition of the single-family home on the property, at its Monday, Jan. 13, meeting.
The purchase will move forward to the Board of Finance, which has debated bonding for some, if not all, of the purchase.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson has called the purchase a "once-in-a-generation opportunity."
The plot, which is privately owned, is immediately adjacent to the Nearwater Lane sewer pump station and is surrounded by Weed Beach Park property. The Short Lane property is the only privately owned parcel within the "greater Weed Beach campus," Stevenson said.
The Representative Town Meeting must approve the purchase of the land.
The acquisition of open land is in line with the Darien Parks, Recreation and Open Space and the Weed Beach plans.
Part of the 1996 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan addressed the need for more open space and recommended that by 2010 "approximately 26 additional acres of parkland would be needed to meet the residents' needs," according to the memo.
Stevenson said the parcel was originally listed for sale at $2.1 million, but the appraisal is $1.4 million. Though the parcel is surrounded by wetlands, it is considered waterfront property because of its proximity to Weed Beach, Stevenson said.
She added that once the purchase is complete, the property would be managed and controlled by the Parks and Recreation Department.
The property has the potential to generate revenue for the town, and Stevenson charged Sue Swiatek, Parks and Recreation director, to think outside the box in terms of what can be done with the land.
Stevenson said she believed the single-family home would be demolished. Karl Kilduff, the town administrator, provided a conservative estimate of $90,000 to $95,000 for the demolition of the home, she said. A formal hazard analysis, to find substances such as asbestos, is included in the demolition costs.
"It does sound very high, but it's very conservative," Stevenson said.
"This is a purchase for the next 100, 200, 300 years," Board of Finance Chairman Liz Mao said.
Stevenson told the Board of Finance the selectmen still are pursuing parcels at 32 Hoyt St. and 41 Hecker Ave. and that the town is seeking a state open space grant for the Hecker Avenue land.
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