Darien town officials on Tuesday announced the purchase of the 60-plus-acre Great Island property on the shore of Long Island Sound, with a “final amended agreement” reached on Monday and a closing date set for May 5.
“Great Island is a pristine landscape with approximately one and a half miles of coastline in an environmentally sensitive cove on Long Island Sound,” First Selectman Monica McNally said in a news release.
“With this purchase, we have prioritized the conservation of this magnificent property, saving it forever from intensive development,” McNally said. “We have added significant open space for Darien, which is needed more and more as our town enters a new development phase.”
McNally continued, “Great Island is a Great Investment for Darien. We will move forward, exploring opportunities to utilize the land in a careful and considerate manner, while keeping residents informed as we move through the process of opening the property to the public.”
Last year, after a series of town meetings and a vote of the Representative Town Meeting, the town and the then current owners, the Steinkraus family, signed an initial $103 million agreement for the purchase. The property had originally gone on the market in 2016 with an initial asking price of $175 million.
“This agreement was subject to certain due diligence procedures, which have now been completed,” according to the news release. After further negotiations, the price was lowered to $85 million.
The news release said that McNally “appreciates the dedication of the Steinkraus family, caring for the property for the last 120 years. The Town will continue to preserve the integrity of Great Island.”
Ned Steinkraus said in the news release: “Our family has cherished Great Island for over 120 years. It is a magical place and we are saddened to see it go, however, we are also excited to pass the torch to the town. We are confident they will be top-notch stewards of the land and preserve it for all to enjoy.”
The announcement said the town government will begin to “perform some physical work on the site to accommodate users, including widening roads, creating parking areas, and addressing some safety, accessibility, and environmental issues. The early stages of this work will necessitate restricted access until critical updates are completed.”
McNally thanked various elected boards and town officials for their help with the purchase, including members of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Representative Town Meeting, various unnamed town government departments, Town Counsel Wayne Fox and Jim Palen, chairman of the Board of Finance.
“It takes a Town to make a project like this a reality,” she said.
SEE ALSO: Town of Darien Great Island Visioning Plan (PDF)