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This marshland across Seaside Avenue from the Westbrook Town Beach is the newest parcel in Westbrook Land Trust’s holdings. The group is holding a meet-and-greet event on Sunday, July 21, beginning at 1 p.m. (Photo by Aviva Luria/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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It won’t precisely be a day at the beach, but it won’t be far from it. The Westbrook Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) will hold a meet and greet at its newly acquired property on Seaside Avenue on Sunday, July 21, beginning at 1 p.m.
At nearly 11.5 acres, the land—all of it tidal marsh—was bequeathed in March to the WLCT by the heirs of Marilyn A. Dauch. Six heirs, some of them living in other countries, signed off on the plan to transfer title of the land to the WLCT to ensure its conservation and protection.
The parcel stretches behind the beach cottages along Seaside Avenue between Old Pent Road and Tarpon Avenue. It includes two small lots on Seaside Avenue on the property’s west side, and one further to the east, providing “frontage on Seaside Ave,” said WLCT Chairman Thomas Elliott. These three lots are not suitable for building, as their marshland was never filled to make building lots—the lots with cottages were filled in the 1950s, according to Elliott.
The town beach and parking lot is directly across the street. Parking will be available at that lot for anyone who tells the attendant that they are attending the WLCT’s event, which is planned for two hours, depending on attendance.
The WLCT’s objective is not only to conserve the land in its natural state, but to employ it for educational purposes, explained Elliott.
“Sometime down the road, we’ll possibly be doing a boardwalk or elevated walkway out to a platform with educational information,” he said. “There’s a sidewalk along Seaside Avenue and it would be easy to get great access to continue a great walk out there. With a parking lot they could bring school buses, schoolkids.”
The land hosts an active osprey nest, one of two on WLCT properties (the other is on Hammock Road).
Elliott estimates that 90 percent of the cottages surrounding the parcel are seasonal, with large numbers rented out. This presents an opportunity to educate people beyond the town of Westbrook. He hopes that the meet and greet will allow the WLCT to attract more members and enlist volunteers to help steward the property or, at a minimum, persuade neighbors to keep an eye on the land and report any problems.
“When we have hurricanes that come through here, lots of times there’s propane gas tanks, there’s all kinds of stuff that washes in here,” he said. “To get those removed and to keep this [land] in the pristine condition that it is right now is very important.”
The WLCT was formed in the late 1960s, after Connecticut passed a law allowing land trusts to file for 501(c)(3) status. Elliott and his wife, Gloria, had recently purchased their property, which abuts the Weber Woods area of Cockaponset State Forest, and were invited to get involved; they’ve been active ever since. The Elliotts themselves have granted a 51-acre easement to the WLCT to ensure that their land is protected for generations to come.
“Our trail system is integral with Weber Woods,” Elliott explained. “You can ride 13 miles north through five towns on the state forest trail system.”
The rest of the WLCT’s 30 parcels are all owned outright by the trust, Elliott said.
The WLCT is a nonprofit organization with no paid staff.
“We try to keep dues minimal to try and encourage as broad a base as we can within the town,” said Elliott. “We have spring and fall cleanups and we do different events.”
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