BERLIN - Residents have a new entrance point for their ventures into the flora and fauna of Berlin.
On Wednesday, Mayor Mark Kaczynski, Economic Development Coordinator Jim Mahoney and members of the Berlin Land Trust gathered with officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to open the trail entrance on the former Chotkowski property on Chamberlain Highway, just south of Southington Road.
“It’s a great piece of property that we’ve added to the town,” said Kaczynski. “It’s great how it worked out and connected everything. ... It’s great Berlin has had the foresight to grab all this land while we had the chance.”
The half-mile entrance trail, lined by blueberry orchards, provides access to a 7-mile system across the town’s 500 acres of open space, including Hatchery Brook Conservation Area, Kensington Orchards and Bicentennial Park.
The land, bought from the Chotkowski family with a $500,000 grant from the state Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program and $700,000 in bonding from the town, with the help of the Berlin Land Trust, represents an effort to provide greater access to the trails.
“We were focused on expanding the open space, but making sure the parking was available, the trails were marked, making sure people can really use the space,” said Mahoney, who was instrumental in obtaining the grant. He said there will be future efforts to connect more of the town’s open space.
Along with the acquiring the land, the funds were used to mix soil for the trails and provide signs, which were completed with the help of local contractors.
“It takes leadership at local level. Linking together of now over 500 acres of open space, the knitting together of parcels is something we see high value in,” said Robert Klee, commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
He praised the town’s efforts to save open space despite economic challenges. “They become corridors. They become spaces where wildlife can connect with one another. It’s what drives us toward making those connections.”
“Berlin has done a great job,” said Bob Nodine, trail manager of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, on the town’s efforts.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org