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Jones Mountain preserved! Click here to read more!
HELP PROTECT JONES MOUNTAIN
(Trust for Public Land mailing to New Hartford residents
12/21/05)
Click here to view a PDF version of this document
Project overview
 
View from the
The citizens of New Hartford have an unprecedented
opportunity to protect Jones Mountain, a signature
landscape defining the history and character of our
fast-developing community.  This 166-acre parcel,
located off Steele Road, includes the summit of Jones
Mountain and provides the visual backdrop for the
downtown village.  Its preservation will provide
recreational opportunities and protect natural resources
for the enjoyment of generations to come.  
Act now and
do your part.  This opportunity will not come again.
 
    View from the "Bare Spot"
(click on photo for larger image)
Property Description:
   
The 166-acre Jones Mountain parcel is covered with
rugged mature forest interspersed with meadows and
intermittent streams.  The property is traversed by
existing hiking trails and a beautifully maintained and
historic carriage road, lined by old stone walls and
culverts built by Irish stonemasons of generations
past.  The carriage road encircles the summit of Jones
Mountain, and provides access to the “bare spot” with
spectacular views of the downtown village, Farmington
River Valley, and surrounding forests.
 
Walking up the Carriage Road
On the Carriage Road
(click on photo for larger image)
The parcel has been designated in the Town and the State Plans of Conservation and Development as a priority
conservation area.  The property drains into the East Mountain Brook, a tributary to the Farmington River, and is
contiguous to 343 acres of undeveloped land held by the Kingdom Game Club.  Preserving this land will help protect
the Farmington, one of Connecticut’s most pristine waterways, and will help support a large area of continuous forest
habitat for our treasured wildlife.
Project Status:
   
New Hartford’s Open Space Preservation Commission (OSPC) has identified the Jones Mountain property as one of
the Town’s highest open space priorities.  Two years ago, OSPC asked the
Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national
non-profit conservation organization, to negotiate with the Jones family to purchase the property and keep it off the
market, pending preservation by the Town.
TPL negotiated and recently signed an agreement with the Jones family to purchase the property for $1,575,000.  
Thanks to the generosity of the family and their desire to preserve the land for others to enjoy, this price is significantly
less than Fair Market Value.  TPL applied for a State Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant, and the
State recently awarded TPL a grant of $450,000 for this purchase.  The agreement between TPL and the Jones family
requires that the Town approve the purchase of the property by January 15, 2005, and that the sale be closed by
February 28, 2006.  TPL is paying for title, survey, and other items to help defray the acquisition costs of the Town.
Project Funding
   
Like similar projects involving State funds, the Town will need to bond the full cost of project, including the share to be
reimbursed by the State.  Combined with the Goula project, this amounts to $1,500,000 in originally authorized
bonding capacity ($554,000 for Goula, $946,000 for Jones Mountain) and $900,000 to be reimbursed by State grants
($450,000 for each project), for a total of $2,400,000.  OSPC and the Boards of Selectmen and Finance have agreed to
include an additional $55,000 in bond capacity just in case this is needed to cover legal fees and interest on
short-term borrowing pending receipt of the State grant funds.  Therefore, to create the mechanism to purchase the
Jones Mountain property, voters at Town Meeting will be asked to increase the total bonding capacity to $2,455,000.  
Only $1,500,000 of this will be used for long-term (20-year) bonding.
As a result of the State grant, the portion of the purchase price to be funded by the Town and other sources is
$1,125,000. In June 2004, residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing the town to bond $1,500,000 for open
space preservation.  This month, voters approved expenditure of $554,000 from these funds to purchase the Goula
property on Cotton Hill. The OSPC, Board of Selectmen, and Board of Finance have unanimously approved the
expenditure of the remaining $946,000 to purchase the Jones Mountain property, leaving $179,000 to be funded from
other sources. The Town’s Land Preservation Fund will cover $60,000, and the New Hartford Land Trust (NHLT) has
committed to raising the remaining $119,000 from private charitable donations.
To create the mechanism for closing the purchase, the
Town will appropriate $119,000 from the surplus
account to be paid back by charitable donations
collected by NHLT.  The Land Trust recognizes that this
project is critical to the quality of our life in town.  NHLT
launched a fundraising campaign to pay back the full
$119,000.
 
Summary of Project Funding
State Grant
$450,000
Long-term Bonding
$946,000
Land Preservation Fund
$60,000
Charitable Donations
$119,000
Total Purchase Price
$1,575,000
In the first 2 weeks of the campaign, more than half of
the funds have been raised.  The goal is to raise the full
amount and reimburse the town by April 1, 2006.  If
necessary, some of this appropriation may also be
offset by non-tax revenues from the Town’s Land
Preservation Fund, which collects fees in lieu of open
space from developers, PA 490 penalties, and
revenues from the sale of Town-owned land.
 
Project Benefits:
   
Recreational Opportunities - Once purchased, the Town
will own the property and be able to use it for passive
recreation.  For their contributions to the purchase, the
State and the New Hartford Land Trust will be given
easements to protect and manage the property.  
Protection of the property will create a park that will be
easily accessible from downtown New Hartford.  A new
trail from Steele Road to existing trails is proposed,
along with a small trailhead parking area.  Existing
trails, the old carriage road, and new trails will be open
to the public for passive recreation providing a
wonderful place to walk, hike, cross-country ski, wildlife
watch, and take in the view.  The pristine forest and
watershed resources will provide environmental
education and research opportunities for visitors,
researchers, and school children.
  Open Space Connections - Jones Mountain is
contiguous to a 343-acre undeveloped property
owned and managed by the Kingdom Game Club.  
Though the Game Club land has not been
permanently protected, it is currently managed as an
open area.  South of Kingdom Game Club, but not
abutting, lies the 1400-acre Nepaug State Forest.
Economic Benefits - The New Hartford Land Use
Office estimates that 48 homes could be built on this
property if not preserved.  Based on
analyses
conducted by OSPC, the net cost to taxpayers to
provide Town services to these homes would far
exceed the costs of bonding $946,000 for 20 years to
acquire and preserve the property.
Natural Resources - Jones Mountain is a primarily
unfragmented, closed-canopy healthy forest with
aspen, white ash, oak hemlock, maple and white pine.  
The property contains intermittent and perennial
streams and associated wetlands.  The property drains
into East Mountain Brook which is a tributary to the
Farmington River.  In addition, the property is
upgradient of the Town’s public water supply aquifer.  
Preservation of this intact forest will protect against the
potentially adverse impacts of development on the
Farmington River watershed, drinking water, inland
waterways, and wildlife.
  Historical Resources - The Jones family traces its
roots to one of New Hartford’s first residents, Deacon
Abraham Merrill, born in 1670.  Jones Mountain was
purchased by the great-grandfather of the current
landowners by acquiring 700 acres of woodlots on
which to build the family homestead, “The
Woodlands”.  The property has since been owned by
his family and passed down through subsequent
generations.  The Jones family has used the property
for enjoying outdoor activities and has diligently
maintained the old carriage road that climbs to and
encircles the summit.
     
New Hartford Land Trust
PO Box 272
New Hartford CT 06057
newhartfordlandtrust@yahoo.com
New Hartford Land Trust
NHLT Home
News
Donating to NHLT
Contact NHLT
Membership and volunteering
NHLT properties
Land conservation resources
    NHLT photos: Volunteers prepare Jones Mountain trails for the public
    Volunteers install trailhead
    sign near Steele Road
  Blazed trail leading out to
Steele Road
Workers preparing trail
    Blazed trail leading to summit
  Trail intersection
 
           Deeper into the forest
Trail map at Steele Road
Jones Mountain News and Information
    Saturday June 5, 2010, 9:30 a.m.: The New Hartford Land Trust and New Hartford
    Conservation Commission offered a Connecticut Trails Day guided hike of the
    Town of New Hartford’s Jones Mountain Open Space Preserve
    NEW HARTFORD PRESERVE: There's Magic On New Hartford's Jones Mountain
    Hartford Courant, May 14, 2010

    By Peter Marteka

    May I have the envelope, please? The winner for the state's most magical nature preserve, where one would
    expect to see gnomes peering from behind mossy rocks, fairies sprinkling pixie dust or a troll collecting a toll
    for crossing a century-old stone bridge, is ... Jones Mountain Preserve.

    From the moment you enter the New Hartford preserve, the only sounds you hear are birds calling in the deep
    forest and your own breathing and footfalls. Visitors travel through hemlock groves that turn day into dusk.
    Huge white pines and swaths of ferns border a carriage road created by Irish stonemasons at the turn of the
    20th century. An overlook, simply known as the "bare spot," gives visitors a spectacular view of the
    surrounding mountains and hills and the center of New Hartford on the banks of the West Branch of the
    Farmington River.

    See why it is an award-winning place?

    There are three different trails that run through the heart of the preserve. The red-blazed trail travels around the
    entire preserve, mostly along the old carriage road that once ran from the Jones family homestead known as
    "The Woodlands" to the top of Jones Mountain. The workmanship of this road is impressive, from the moss-
    covered stone bridge where you half expect to see a troll pop out and ask who dares to cross his bridge, to
    the stone culverts and stone walls supporting the roadway.

    The moss growth along the streams and century-old stonework is beautiful and covers everything in thick,
    bright green carpets. The color plays magically with the darker greens and browns of the surrounding forests.
    When you reach the overlook, look closely at the rock ledge, where someone carved a name and a date — of
    1877.

    The carriage road continues around the peak of the mountain, which reaches a height of 980 feet with
    neighboring ledges at 1,120 feet. A side trail takes visitors to a small cabin-like structure, something I
    originally thought was a hobbit house from "The Lord of the Rings" or a dwelling from the movie "Planet of the
    Apes." But several references in a log located at a map kiosk at the trailhead refer to it as the "foam dome." It's
    a preserve must-see.

    Visitors can continue along the carriage road that loops around the peak before traveling along "Vista Road"
    across another picturesque stone bridge and back down to the trail entrance. A shortcut is available by taking
    the yellow-blazed trail "Brook Trail" through a deep mountain laurel forest to a white-blazed trail that travels
    through a deep hemlock forest gorge back to the Carriage Road.

    The Jones family traces its roots to Deacon Abraham Merrill, born in 1670 and one of New Hartford's first
    settlers. For hundreds of years, the family has preserved this fairyland mountainside where visitors can lose
    themselves in a magical natural world.

    •Directions: Route 44 to Route 219 or Town Hill Road. Take a left on Steele Road and look for a parking area
    on left after passing Burdick Road. Visit www.newhartfordlandtrust.
    org/News/JonesUse2_07_Map_and_Guide.pdf for a map of the preserve.

    •Peter Marteka can be reached by phone at 860-647-5365; by mail at The Courant, 200 Adams St.,
    Manchester, CT 06040; and by e-mail at pmarteka@courant.com.
 
Historical - articles about Jones Mountain land acquisition
New Hartford residents OK open-space buy
Friday, January 6, 2006
BY KARI BANACH
Copyright © 2006 Republican-American
Thanking the Jones Family
NEW HARTFORD -- Town voters made history Thursday when
they approved a $1.575 million open-space purchase two
weeks after a yes vote on the town's first open-land acquisition.
Nearly 200 residents packed the town's Senior Center for the
unanimous vote to buy downtown's 166-acre Jones Mountain
from the family of former resident Frank Jones.
On Dec. 21, a smaller crowd unanimously approved buying 118
acres atop Cotton Hill for $1 million from former resident Walter
Goula for open space.
Thursday, First Selectman Bill Baxter told the crowd, which
applauded itself after the vote, that preserving 284 acres so
quickly was a tremendous feat.
Partners in preservation: representatives of the
town of New Hartford, the New Hartford Land
Trust, the Trust for Public Land, and Frank and
Jeanne Jones of the Jones Family celebrate after
the January 7, 2006 vote to preserve Jones
Mountain.
Back row, from left: William Michaud, Chair, New Hartford
Open Space Preservation Commission; William Baxter, New
Hartford First Selectman; Thomas Klebart, Treasurer, New
Hartford Land Trust; Caren Ross, founding Chair, Open
Space Preservation Commission; Alicia Betty, Trust for
Public Land; Frank Jones and Jeanne Jones
"This town should be very proud of itself," Baxter said. "I talk to
officials in other towns who look at us with envy because we've
been able to mobilize and look at what the town is and what it
should be."
The site, which overlooks downtown, includes a maze of hiking
trails through dense forest and meadows. Several streams run
through the property.
Officials in this rural community of 6,600 have long touted open-space acquisitions as a way to slow residential
development. The town has a 90 percent residential tax base and the costs of services as the population grows are
footed mainly by private taxpayers.
Frank Jones, who resides in Massachusetts, was present Thursday with his daughter, Jeanne, of Colebrook. The pair
didn't comment during the hour-long discussion before the vote.
Residents posed few questions. All comments shared were in support of the proposal.
The crowd first voted to increase the town's $1.5 million open-space fund to $2.45 million to pay for both the Jones
and Goula properties until state funding comes through.
The town was awarded $900,000 in state Department of Environmental Protection grants for the land in November.
That funding will be received this year, officials said.
The average taxpayer will pay between $25 and $30 annually for 20 years to cover the cost of Jones Mountain, said Bill
Michaud, chairman of the town
Open Space Commission.
If it were developed, the cost of services for new homes there, it is estimated, would likewise add $25 to $30 per year
to homeowners' tax bills, Michaud said.
"That wouldn't go away after 20 years," he said. "We're making a choice to spend ... on residential development (or) to
preserve the land and enjoy the benefits that come with that."
About $179,000 in remaining costs will be covered by the town land acquisition fund -- fees paid to the town by
subdivision developers in lieu of dedicating open space in their site plans -- and the general surplus.
Jones property buy OK’d
ROBERT CYR, Register Citizen Staff
01/06/2006
 
NEW HARTFORD -- A town vote Thursday night in favor of purchasing the 166-acre Jones property closed the chapter
on a two-part open spaces acquisition project that began with a bond resolution in 2004.
The purchase of the Goula property, the first of the two buys, was approved at the end of 2005 with a price tag of $1.1
million.
The Jones property purchase totals $1.57 million, and when anticipated state DEP grants came in $100,000 short in
2005, the town scrambled fast to come up with the shortfall in the face of a Feb. 28, 2006 purchase deadline for the
property.
The original 2004 bonding note for $1.5 million was changed to $2.45 million, with little or no cost offset remaining
after the New Hartford Land Trust established a challenge grant to meet the $119,000 shortfall for the purchase.
Selectman Bill Marchand said that money will be borrowed from the town surplus fund and transferred to the open
space acquisition fund, and the sooner that money can be paid back, the better.
Open Space Preservation Committee Chairman Bill Michaud said although the town will be losing interest dollars
earned on the used surplus funds, the overall savings to the town will far overshadow any initial, short-term losses.
"If the Jones project is dropped, houses are going to go up there," Michaud said in December 2005. "It will end up
costing the town more money."
Treasurer Blake Hall outlined to the town meeting of over 200 people that, after some short-term borrowing to cover
the anticipated
DEP grant of $450,000, the remaining $119,000 balance will be covered by a fund-raiser from the New
Hartford Land Trust, which has already raised over $111,000.
Michaud said he made projections of how much each household would pay to remunerate the 20-year, $946,000
bond, and it came close to what taxpayers would give up in resources if the land were developed. The largest
difference being that the $25 or so increase per household in taxes per year would end after the bond is paid off, but
residential housing would pose permanent increases, he said.
Hartford Courant News Briefs
January 7, 2006
NEW HARTFORD
Residents Approve Open Space Bonding
 
NEW HARTFORD - Residents took final action this week to preserve about 284 acres of open space.
At a special town meeting Thursday, residents approved an increase in the authorization of open space bonding from
$1.5 million to $2.455 million to secure 166 acres on Jones Mountain, the hill that rises behind New Hartford Center,
and 118 acres off Cotton Hill Road. The town meeting was prompted by the need to meet purchase deadlines while
the town waits for $900,000 in state grants.
Voters in 2004 authorized $1.5 million in bonding.
Last year, owners of the Jones Mountain and Cotton Hill properties negotiated deals to sell their land. In August,
voters approved spending $1.1 million for the Cotton Hill parcel owned by Walter Goula. The approval was contingent
upon state reimbursement of half the price. In November, the town received approval for a state grant of $450,000 for
the Goula purchase. That left a $100,000 shortfall on the Goula deal, but the owner agreed to drop his price by that
amount.
On the Jones Mountain purchase, residents agreed Thursday to meet the asking price of $1.575 million through a
combination of $946,000 in bonding, a $450,000 expected state grant, $60,000 from the town's land preservation fund
and $119,000 from the town surplus, in expectation of repayment through fundraising by the local land trust.