The West Hartford Land Trust currently owns five parcels of land in town, but desperately needs additional funding to stay afloat and continue its mission of preserving green space.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford is a mature town with few remaining open spaces, but the West Hartford Land Trust is dedicated to protecting and preserving green space for future generations.
“We run on a shoestring budget, and unfortunately we had a tree cause damage to a garage,” said West Hartford Land Trust board member Melissa Goldschmitt. The rest of the tree, which is located on the Land Trust’s parcel at the rear of 1157 Farmington Ave., needs to come down before it causes further damage.
The organization doesn’t get any funding from the town or the state, and the $2,500 that it will cost to have the tree removed is more than the Land Trust currently has in the bank, Goldschmitt said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up, and Goldschmitt and other board members are hoping to raise the funds needed to remove the tree and to continue to operate the organization.
The West Hartford Land Trust is also hoping to raise funds for other basic necessities needed to fulfill its mission. “Right now we’re not in a financial position where we can acquire more properties,” said Goldschmitt. Even if property is donated, there are still insurance costs.
The West Hartford Land Trust was the brainchild of former Town Council member John Shulansky, who continues to serve as president of its board. During Shulansky’s tenure on the Town Council, a resident wanted to donate land and the town had no mechanism to accept it, Goldschmitt said, and that was the impetus to form the non-profit organization.
Board member Eric Goldstein said that the West Hartford Land Trust was formed in 2002. “We got off to a pretty strong start,” he said.
The organization currently has five parcels of land, totaling about 13 acres. Two are on Farmington Avenue close to West Hartford Center, there is one on Clark Drive, one on Orchard Road, and a large bucolic parcel with a pond on Still Road.
The West Hartford Land Trust had received a federal grant several years ago to remove invasive species from the 1157R Farmington Avenue parcel. “It was a big success,” Goldstein said, and the parcel, which was originally dedicated by architect Tai Soo Kim, has been restored to its native species.
Now that the grant has ended, the West Hartford Land Trust has found itself depleted of funds and membership. For a variety of reasons including moving out of the area, core board members have dropped off.
“We’d like to replenish the Land Trust, with new membership, new leaders, a new direction. We want to take it to the next step,” Goldstein said, and reinvigorate the outreach effort. The sense of wanting to build up in West Hartford Center, and the town’s purchase of the UConn property, could present new ideas and options for the organization, he said. The Land Trust would also like to perhaps add a bench and some walking trails to the Still Road property.
In the short-term, however, Goldstein and Goldschmitt want to get past the cash crunch. “The tree has to come down, but the arborist expense is devastating,” Goldstein said.
The West Hartford Land Trust’s mission is to carve out green spaces. “The ultimate West Hartford goal is for people to enjoy them. We have high hopes but we can’t do it without funds,” said Goldschmitt.
To donate to the West Hartford Land Trust’s GoFundMe campaign, click here. Fore more information about the organization, visit its website or email [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!