The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport has decided to sell its much-discussed land on top of Castle Hill to Newtown resident Joseph Draper, who says he plans to preserve it.
"Mr. Draper is a member of a Newtown family with a deep appreciation of the natural beauty and history of the site, and he has pledged to respect that in the future," said Diocese Chancellor Anne McCrory. "He is a life long resident of Newtown and has no plans for that to change and looks forward to maintaining the integrity of the parcel."
According to the release, McCrory said that in the process of preparing to sell the property, the Diocese "became aware of the great interest in the parcel on the part of many of the town’s constituencies who have spoken to the historic and environmental value of the property and the need to preserve it."
Both local development firm GLT and the Newtown Forest Association had been vying for the property. The Forest Association said it is planning a formal press release. A letter on their website called the news "bittersweet."
"Time was never on our side during this endeavor," Guy Peterson, the forest association's treasure, wrote in the letter. Peterson praised the fundraising efforts, which had netted two-thirds of the asking price in 15 days.
"Basically, it was well worth the effort to raise the profile of the property and the value," Newtown Forest Association president Robert Eckenrode told Patch. "It's fortunate someone within town recognized the value of the property, chose to buy it all in one parcel and plans to keep it all together. We look forward to working with that new landowner to either preserve his property or manage the natural resources there."
McCrory said the Diocese "worked very hard" to make a decision that would meet "their own objectives" while preserving the land.
"We feel fortunate that Mr. Draper is a Newtown resident who has a strong appreciation of the land and its unique location and is in a position to purchase it,” she said.
"My family’s purpose in purchasing the site is to maintain this great property largely in its current state. We look forward to meeting with interested parties in Newtown to discuss alternative approaches to accomplish our goal of preserving this site for generations to come,” said Draper, according to the release from the Diocese.