Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

July 22, 2019

Newington Delegation Announces Open
Space Victory, Transition Academy Construction

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) and the Newington delegation announced that the General Assembly has voted to require the Commissioner of Administrative Services to convey a conservation and recreation easement over a parcel of state land to the town of Newington. The measure, Senate Bill 1208, passed the Senate and House unanimously Monday afternoon. Separately, the General Assembly voted to approve $472,032 in state bond funding for Newington’s Transition Academy at Town Hall.

“Protecting this parcel of open space on Cedar Mountain is a dream come true,” Sen. Lesser said in a statement. “This is a big win for the environment and will protect the character of Newington for generations to come. And I’m thrilled we were able to secure state funding for the transition academy at Town Hall, which will help provide much-needed property tax relief to area home owners. This was a team effort and I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues, particularly the Mayor and town council and State Rep. Gary Turco, Rick Lopes and Kerry Wood”

The conveyance was proposed during the 2019 regular session. During the session, Sen. Lesser testified in support of the legislation with a bipartisan coalition which included State Representative Gary Turco (D-Newington), Newington Mayor Roy Zartarian, Town Councilpersons Chris Miner and Gail Budrejko and Town Planner Craig Minor.

“We are grateful to Sen. Lesser and the Newington delegation for their support in conveying a conservation and recreation easement to the Town for an additional eighteen acre parcel of the Cedarcrest Hospital property,” said Mayor Zartarian. “This action makes whole the open space preservation measure introduced by Rep. Gary Byron during the 2018 session. Cedar Mountain, on which the Cedarcrest property sits, is the Town’s largest tract of undeveloped, natural land. It is a local icon of incalculable value to the community.”

“I am committed to preserving open space as one of the most important things we can do to preserve our quality of life and that is why I am proud that we are protecting an additional 18.2 acres on Cedar Mountain for passive recreational use,” Rep. Turco said. “Open space is a finite resource and, if we do not do our part to protect it, we will lose it forever.”

“We heard often at our community conversations the need to protect this land and to provide access for recreation,” said Rep. Wood. “In addition, it will be home to numerous wildlife.”

The Commissioner of Administrative Services will convey an easement over a portion of a parcel of land with an area of approximately 18.2 acres located on Cedar Mountain to the town of Newington to ensure that the land only be used for open space and passive recreation..

Cedar Mountain is best known for its hiking trail located on Russell Road, just behind the Connecticut Humane Society. Following the mountain’s hiking trail will lead to the “outlook,” which offers scenic views stretching miles away from well-known mountain. According the town’s website, back in 1965 and 1966, there were published reports in the now-defunct Hartford Times of Unidentified Flying Object sightings over Cedar Mountain.

Transition Academy Funding

The Transition Academy serves students with intellectual and other disabilities. Students aged 18-21 are provided this service through the Transition Academy program, which offers instruction in personal health care, communication skills, interpersonal skills, basic home skills, consumer education, job exploration and more. Students in the Transition Academy program also participate in internships. According to the Newington Public Schools website, Transition Academy students have interned at Hartford Hospital, Eleanor Buck Wolf Nature Center, the Veterans’ Hospital, Bobs Clothing Store, the Newington Senior Center and more.

“The Transition Academy provides indispensable learning tools that give students a better opportunity to become productive members of society,” said Rep. Turco. “I am pleased we approved funding that also helps with the overall completion of our town hall project.”

“I’m thankful for the great working relationship amongst our legislative delegation and as such this team effort helped secure funds for the Newington Transition Academy,” said Rep. Wood.

“I am grateful that funding for a new Transition Academy is moving forward,” said Rep. Lopes. “The Academy is a vital resource for Newington High grads who might require additional assistance and skills to land jobs and become productive members of our community. I look forward to completion of the new Transition Academy and the positive outcome these students receive following graduation.”

“The work of Sen. Lesser and the Newington delegation in securing a $472,032 school construction grant for the Town Hall renovation project is greatly appreciated,” said Mayor Zartarian. “The funding will be applied primarily to the Transition Academy, a vital section of this new landmark structure.”