"How much space is open to the public?"
This was the question asked and answered by Nancy Sessions 28 years ago in February, 1989. Mrs. Sessions was a member of the Town Environmental Commission in that year, and, in a letter to the editor of the New Canaan Advertiser, she summarily assessed the total open space open to the public throughout New Canaan. While the Environmental Commission had at that time recently updated the open space inventory, concluding that almost 14% of New Canaan was open space, Mrs. Sessions dug a little deeper into the figures.
Removing swamps, highways, school buildings, cemeteries, and the like, as areas that one wouldn’t typically consider as open space open for passive recreation, that percentage comes down quite a bit.
In the second column of Mrs. Sessions’ article we read, "The percentage then of land freely available to New Canaanites to the total area of New Canaan (is) four and one-half percent. That is no figure about which to be complacent."
The other article looks at the specifics of Mrs. Sessions’ study, and makes the important point that from 1980 to 1988, 11 major parcels totaling 401 acres had been subdivided over the course of those 8 years. In the intervening time between then and today, those parcels have been further divided.
What a dream it would have been to have had a few more of those, "tracts ranging from 20 to 79 acres in size" set aside as preserved open space?
When we talk about open space today, we similarly need to go a little deeper to consider that land that is not only "perceived", but also guaranteed as "protected" in perpetuity, just as is the case for all land owned by the Land Trust.
We continue to work with geographers, mappers, and analysts to get a clearer idea of what open space exists and is open for public access. One thing is for sure: We are all better off because of that land which had been preserved in years past so that we, and all those who come after us, can enjoy these natural spaces in all their wonder, in perpetuity.