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Briarcliff, Teatown Praise New Open Space

OSSINING, N.Y. – Fifty years from now, when Westchester residents walk across the street from Ossining’s Teatown Lake Reservation , Briarcliff Manor residents Connie and John Curran know they will be able sep foot on roughly 60 acres of land that will look exactly as it does today.

"It's going to do for future generations what it's done for current generations and provide the opportunity to learn about nature and preserve it for years to come," said Connie Curran, adding that she and John helped privately support the acquisition. "It's just a fantastic piece of property, and the fact that they were able to put it together adds to the overall Teatown experience."

Teatown, Westchester County and other area officials celebrated the opening Wednesday morning of a 59-acre open space tract known as The Croft. Instead of purchasing the former private lands outright, officials secured the area through private fundraising, support from the Open Space Institute and purchase of permanent easement on the space by Westchester County , according to a press release. The Croft was purchased for $3.5 million, including $1.295 million in contribution from OSI. In addition, the deal allows for Teatown to assume management for three county-owned parks.

The effort was spearheaded in part by former Teatown chairman Geoff  Thompson, who Wednesday called the opening “a very important day for us and a big deal.”

“This was a very complicated transaction,” Thompson said. “The days of the county or anybody being able to write a check for open space are over. It now requires more of a team approach and that was the approach we took.”

“If you walk the trails, go outside and experience nature the way it is supposed to be, and  see (The Croft) today, know that it will be there tomorrow and many tomorrows for our children and grandchildren and that’s a special thing,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said. “This is an important partnership and it makes the county a special place to live and to work.”

Astorino also thanked Thompson for leading the charge.

“It takes a vision and it takes a person to be persistent,” he said. “We’re all here because (Thompson) shepherded us down the path.”

Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, agreed with Thompson and Astorino in celebrating the opening and collaboration between various groups.

“This is the only way we’re going to be able to pull through these difficult economic times is by doing it together and by having these unique public-private partnerships,” he said. “This enhances the quality of life in Westchester County.”

Legislator Catherine Borgia, D-Ossining, agreed.

“I’m obviously very excited about this project not only because it abuts my legislative district but because it’s so important for us to keep open space in Westchester County,” Borgia said. “My family often rides our bikes here because we only live a few miles away in Ossining so I of course wanted to see it expanded.”

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