Please remember that nothing on this
webpage is official information.
COMMITTEE("Lachat Building & Maintenance Committee") - re-formed
in 2008! Mission Statement coming!
Weston Town Representatives: Richard Wolf, Michael Greenberg,
Carolyn Mulcahey, Glenn Major, Dave Christopher;
Jack Beal, new member of Lachat Committee (original group - Town and
Conservancy Representatives); almost all in attendance at Public
NOTE: this link includes education programming at Devil's Den - http://www.newcanaannature.org
Selectmen on Jun 19, 2008, discuss with Dr. Steve Patton of the Nature
Conservancy the general idea for resuming discussion and getting
another Committee appointed to prepare for eventual Planning &
Zoning Commission presentation of a more modest proposal for the Lachat
property. "Mission Statement" for 2008 version of this group
coming at July 3, 2008 meeting of the Selectmen, we think. Since
the bad winter of 2010-2011, the Lachat Homestead Committee has advised
the Selectmen of the dire condition of that property at a Public
Hearing; subsequently, the full Board votes to mark the property
with tape and to demolish it unless there was some way to rescue it
with out-of-town funds (About
Town's choice of words - not official).
Lachat plans back on table; Town
by BRIAN GIOIELE
Nov 20, 2007
After months of inactivity, plans for the Lachat property jumped into
high gear Thursday.
At its meeting Nov. 15, the Board of Selectmen voted to reconvene the
Select Committee on the Lachat Property, which will meet with Steve
Patton, Devil’s Den director, and prepare a plan that would ultimately
come before a town public hearing.
That plan will likely include walking trails and a renovation of the
Lachat house on Godfrey Road West.
“They have really stepped up to the plate,” said Selectman Glenn Major
about the Nature Conservancy.
All this happened without the issue even being on the selectmen’s
Mr. Major asked that discussion of the Lachat property’s future be
placed on the agenda after informing the board that he had met with Dr.
Patton the previous day.
“The Nature Conservancy is not in a position to set out what its best
plans will be,” Mr. Major said. “But Steve did indicate that the Nature
Conservancy is very willing to talk to the town along the lines of the
proposal that they earlier rejected.”
To the front burner
The future of the property came back to the front burner at the Nov. 1
selectmen’s meeting, when Mark Harper — who had been involved in the
original negotiations between Leon Lachat and the Nature Conservancy
several years ago — asked that the board press the issue with
Mr. Major agreed at that meeting to send a formal letter to Dr. Patton
asking what the Nature Conservancy’s intentions are pertaining to the
property off Godfrey Hill Road, but before that letter was even penned,
the Devil’s Den director contacted the selectman.
“They are willing to bring the project into a much smaller scale,” said
Mr. Major, adding that the conservancy is ready to remove former plans
for a large meeting room from the project.
Mr. Major said he was told by Dr. Patton that the conservancy is ready
to make the old Lachat home into office space and create walking trails
from the property to the neighboring preserve.
“The Nature Conservancy would make the house the gateway to the
preserve,” Mr. Major said. “And they would close Pent Road as the main
“Clearly there are things that need to be worked through here, but the
general consensus is that this a good start,” Mr. Major added.
This step comes after weeks of silence about the future of the site.
The selectmen had formed the latest select committee on the property’s
future after the Annual Town Budget Meeting two years ago declined to
pay for the Nature Conservancy’s initial development plans.
That new select committee then held two public meetings and toured the
site before preparing a site development proposal — one that was much
smaller in scope. The Nature Conservancy rejected the town’s plan at
Select committee to oversee
by KIMBERLY DONNELLY
Repair and maintenance on the farmhouse on the Lachat property will be
overseen by a newly appointed select committee. —Kimberly Donnelly
A newly formed town committee has been charged with “safeguarding” the
house on the Lachat property, which is jointly owned by the town and
the Nature Conservancy.
The Select Committee for the Lachat House was formed by the Board of
Selectmen at its meeting last Thursday, Sept. 20, as an advisory
committee whose mission it is to “analyze and make recommendations
regarding the maintenance and stabilization of the Lachat homestead.”
Selectman Glenn Major said the town had success with its Heddy House
Committee, which oversaw the preservation of that historic town
property. “Now we face a similar challenge with the Lachat house,” Mr.
Major said. The three-person committee is charged with reviewing
conditions at the house and estimating required maintenance and repair
costs, as well as ongoing maintenance costs. It will also oversee any
work done at the house.
In addition, committee members must work with the Nature Conservancy to
try to “explore a long-range plan for [the house’s] use.”
After forming the committee, the board unanimously appointed its three
members: David Coprio, Paul Dysenroth, and Robert Uzenoff, who will
serve as the committee’s chairman. Mr. Uzenoff, who has served on
the Parks and Recreation Commission and has lived in Weston since 1983,
said, “I am glad to serve in this capacity.”
“It’s very prudent that the town takes care of the facilities it owns,”
Mr. Dysenroth, a Westonite since 1965, said, adding that as a member of
the select committee, he will see that this particular facility is not
Mr. Coprio, who is a member of the town Building Committee and the
School Building Committee, was not at the Board of Selectmen meeting,
but Selectman Richard Miller spoke highly of his qualifications.
“I know David Coprio, and he is very well prepared to take on this
task,” Mr. Miller said.
The select committee must present a report concerning the immediate
needs of the Lachat house to the selectmen no later than Nov. 4. A
report concerning long-term plans and repairs is due by Jan. 31, 2008.
Town asks Nature Conservancy...Now what for Lachat?
by KIMBERLY DONNELLY
Sep 26, 2007
It’s been nearly 10 years since the town of Weston and the Nature
Conservancy jointly purchased the Lachat property with the intention of
making it the “gateway to Devil’s Den.” But plans to develop an
education center there, to maintain trails that would connect the land
to the conservancy’s nature preserve at The Den, to add parking, and
even to put up signs designating the area the Julianna Lachat Nature
Preserve have yet to come to fruition.
Now, it looks like the town will have to wait at least another month
before finding out what the conservancy is willing to do to advance
At the Sept. 20 Board of Selectmen meeting, Selectman Glenn Major said
he had met recently with Steve Patton, director of the Saugatuck Forest
Lands Project and Devil’s Den, regarding the Lachat property.
“I’ve asked Steve to put together what the Nature Conservancy would
perceive to be the minimum they would be willing to do to go forward,
other than just keeping the property in their back pockets as something
... just ‘preserved,’” Mr. Major said.
Dr. Patton, who was not at the selectmen’s meeting, said the next day
that the information being sought is a decision that must be made by
the Connecticut chapter of the Nature Conservancy, not by him alone. He
expected it would take upward of a month before anything could be
presented to the selectmen.
The Lachat property off Godfrey Road West
consists of a 32-acre homestead parcel (see related article) and 10
acres of hillside and meadows adjacent to the Devil’s Den Nature
In 1997 and 1999, the town of Weston and the Nature Conservancy jointly
purchased the properties, including a farmhouse, a few barns and
several outbuildings, from the late Leon Lachat.
In 2005, the town and the Nature Conservancy presented a plan to the
Weston Planning and Zoning Commission calling for the renovation of
several buildings and the construction of a parking lot and a new
5,204-square-foot visitors and education center on the Lachat property.
That plan was heavily opposed by the public and was withdrawn before
coming to a vote. Further discord was noted at the Annual Town Budget
Meeting in April 2006, when voters turned down a $450,000 appropriation
for the Lachat project.
After those rejections, Dr. Patton said the Nature Conservancy’s main
focus had shifted from education to preservation, and it would respect
the will of the people and support whatever the town wanted to do with
However, Mr. Major said it was that shift away from an educational
focus that has caused the property to remain in limbo.
In the fall of 2006, the town appointed a Lachat Advisory Committee,
which, at the end of the year, made recommendations to an already
existing Lachat Building Committee. This spring, the building committee
presented a proposal to the Nature Conservancy, which was a
significantly scaled-down, modified version of the original plan.
“The Nature Conservancy rejected it out of hand,” Mr. Major said on
And so, Mr. Major met with Dr. Patton last week to express his concerns
about the lack of progress, Mr. Major said. “Steve did not seem to
waver much from the Nature Conservancy’s position, and their general
shift in policy.”
Management and economics
On Friday, however, Dr. Patton indicated that it
is not so much a shift in policy that is causing the stalemate but it
is rather a matter of logistics and economics.
The proposal from the Lachat Building Committee “was substantially less
than the original proposal,” Dr. Patton said. “We didn’t think it would
work from a management standpoint.”
The scaled-down proposal calls for leaving the Pent Road entrance to
Devil’s Den open, while adding a new entrance, with additional parking
and a second set of administrative offices, at Lachat, Dr. Patton said.
“We’re pretty restrictive as to what is permitted within the preserve
[for example, no cars or bikes or ATVs are allowed] ... If we don’t
have staff at both entrances, we run the risk of losing control of the
preserve and that becomes a problem,” Dr. Patton said.
The underlying problem, he said, would be the cost of maintaining two
entrances and an additional facility.
“If we don’t have a facility that can help us generate revenue through
programming options ... then we’re looking at maintaining the operating
expenses of yet another building,” he said. The scaled-down facilities
at Lachat would not bring in revenue to cover those costs, he added.
Dr. Patton explained that the operating costs of the residence and
office currently maintained by the conservancy at Pent Road are covered
by an endowment; that endowment would not cover the operating expenses
of a second entrance and facility, he said.
“The plan we had would have worked for us financially, but scaled down
to an office and parking lot, it doesn’t seem to work. That was our
conclusion,” Dr. Patton said.
He did say he would bring the matter to the attention of the
Connecticut chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and he hoped to have an
answer within a month or so as to what — if anything — the conservancy
might now be willing to pursue.
Several people, including Mark Harper (who helped
broker the original deal between Leon Lachat, the town, and the Nature
Conservancy), former First Selectman Hal Shupack, and Mr. Major,
expressed frustration with the discrepancy between what was intended
for the property and what the conservancy is legally bound to do.
When the agreements were written, Mr. Major said, they were done so
with a certain expectation in mind — that there would eventually be an
education center on the Lachat property. “Therefore, the obligations of
the various parties were written with that component in mind. Without
that component, it shifts those obligations,” he said.
“I’m upset because no one has gotten to enjoy the property or use the
land or any of the fields,” Mr. Harper said. Regardless of how
contracts between Mr. Lachat, the town and the conservancy can now be
interpreted, “that’s not the spirit of the agreement,” he said. Mr.
Lachat always intended for people to be able to use and enjoy the
property, and for there to be an educational component.
“The town is being somewhat held hostage by the Nature Conservancy,”
which is now doing nothing but keeping the land as is, Mr. Harper said.
“It’s somewhat distressing because that was not Leon’s intention.”
Mr. Major stressed that he “hopes the Nature Conservancy will put
together a proposal that will address those concerns.”
Mr. Shupack agreed with Mr. Harper that, legal language aside, “the
Nature Conservancy’s position does not comply at all with the
intention” of the original agreement. He called the original plans for
the property “exciting” and “an opportunity to have the entire Devil’s
Den at our fingertips for environmental research and education.”
Mr. Shupack also said the Pent Road entrance to The Den is dangerous
and hazardous. The preserve would be better served by an entrance at
When Mr. Shupack offered to help with any legal negotiations between
the town and the Nature Conservancy, Mr. Major said again he hoped the
conservancy would respond in a way “that will not necessitate us having
to go in a direction we might have to go.”
SELECT COMMITTEE ESTABLISHED FOR LACHAT HOUSE AT SEPTEMBER 20, 2007
Charged to find out over the
next year or so what needs doing to stablize structure, what the cost
would be to do some improvements to Lachat
First Meeting: Saturday, September 22, 2007, 11am, at the Lachat House
Members: Paul Deysenroth, Bob Uzenoff and Dave
- Receive background documents from Selectmen
- Observe the property
- identify most immediate concerns i.e. broken windows
- discuss remediation
- set a time line and place for next meeting
- other business
property: Committee sums up sentiments
by KIMBERLY DONNELLY
Dec 6, 2006
After nearly three months of gathering public input, the Lachat
Advisory Committee has approved its recommendations for the property
that borders Devil’s Den Nature Preserve.
Chief among the recommendations the advisory committee is passing along
to the Lachat Building Committee is that the existing buildings be
structurally repaired and updated as needed; that the overall aesthetic
feel of the property be maintained and preserved while allowing for
greater access to Devil’s Den; and that parking and meeting space be
Noticeably absent from the report are any recommendations for new
buildings to be constructed at the site at this time.
The Lachat property consists of a 32-acre homestead parcel and 10 acres
of hillside and meadows. In 1997 and 1999, the town of Weston and the
Nature Conservancy jointly purchased the properties, including a farm
house, a few barns, and several outbuildings, from the late Leon Lachat.
In 2005, the town and the Nature Conservancy presented a plan to the
Planning and Zoning Commission calling for the renovation of several
buildings and construction of a parking lot and new 5,204-square-foot
visitors and education center on the Lachat property.
That plan was heavily opposed by the public and was withdrawn before
coming to a vote. Further discord was noted at the Annual Town Budget
Meeting in April when voters turned down a $450,000 appropriation for
the Lachat project.
After those rejections, Steve Patton, the director of Devil’s Den, said
the Nature Conservancy’s main focus had shifted from education to
preservation, and it would respect the will of the people and support
whatever the town wanted to do with the property.
To that end, the Board of Selectmen in August appointed five members to
the Lachat Advisory Committee to gather input as to what the public
would like to see done with the property.
The advisory committee held two public hearings in September, and a
public walk of the property in November. Based on the inputit received,
the committee, on Monday, Dec. 4, unanimously approved its
“I’m very happy with where we ended up,” said Selectman Glenn Major,
who sits on the advisory committee, along with Richard Wolf, Michael
Greenberg, Carolyn Armbrust Mulcahey, and Dave Christopher.
“It really will be a much needed facility for all of the town, not just
for schoolchildren. I think it’s not going to attract a large influx of
people from out of town, yet it becomes an appropriate facility for
whomever uses The Den,” Mr. Major said of the overall vision the
committee tried to convey.
Mr. Major said he was also pleased with how the information-gathering
“The people who had an inherent interest were given an opportunity to
express their desires and concerns,” he said. “We were very fortunate,
because there was not a huge dichotomy of desires. Whether it was an
immediate neighbor of the Lachat property, or someone from across town,
everyone said pretty much the same things,” he said.
The advisory committee tried to include most of the ideas that were
presented during the public hearings in its report to the building
committee — even those ideas that were only expressed by a few people,
Mr. Major said.
In its executive summary, the advisory committee wrote:
“The overwhelming desire is to preserve the integrity of the property
and its historical representation of farming in Weston; use it for
passive recreation and enjoyment of the natural meadows, hills, and
wetlands; maintain the existing streetscape; repair the main buildings;
and manage the traffic by minimizing on-site parking and keeping other
Devil’s Den access points open and accessible to the public, including
the Pent Road entrance.”
Other ideas the committee heard included creating a community garden or
farm project, building a gallery, or using the site for a community
The report also states people expressed interest in the buildings and
property being used as an entrance to Devil’s Den, and “for educational
purposes, including a welcome/visitor’s center limited to the existing
barns, which could be renovated, and expanded, if necessary.”
(See related story below for the committee’s complete specific
The advisory committee suggested that the building committee ought to
“immediately stabilize and shore up the main house and barns to prevent
any further deterioration while a long term plan is being developed.”
With the presentation of the recommendations to the building committee,
the ball is now in its court. The six-member building committee, which
consists of three representatives for the town (Mr. Wolf, Mr.
Greenberg, and Jack Biel) and three representatives for the Nature
Conservancy (Richard Bochinski of Weston, John Zaro of New Canaan, and
Kate Ebbott of Redding), will put together conceptual drawings and cost
Those, in turn, will go back to the advisory committee for review and
more public input before final plans are drawn and presented for town
approval and permitting.
Dec 6, 2006
Lachat committee offers recommendations
The Lachat Advisory Committee agreed
Monday night to present the following specific recommendations to the
Lachat Building Committee:
• Structural repairs to the building are immediately
required to stabilize the building and preserve the look and aesthetics
of the farmhouse appearance.
• Exterior — repairs to the roof, porch, siding,
windows, and foundation work as needed. Roof and window repairs
needed to keep out the elements should be undertaken immediately.
• Interior — no specific changes identified.
However, use may be desired in the existing layout of the downstairs
for meeting room/office for the interests of the Town and The Nature
Conservancy. The upstairs may be reserved for non-public use,
such as a residence, office or storage space.
• Maintain the streetscape of the barns as currently
• Structural repairs or replacement of the barn
buildings, for public use, possibly extending the footprint on the rear
• Meeting space with no permanent fixtures, e.g.
movable, simple benches for 40-50 people. Usable year-round, and
taking advantage of views to the north.
• Some suggestions included a loft area with a window
facing the rear view and a possible open-air, covered porch also in
rear of the barns.
• Handicapped accessible bathrooms with entrances
from both the interior and exterior of the barns, accessible drinking
• An area for a utility sink and counter.
• Open Stall Barn — Preserve for special use as
gathering area and open to the courtyard, for displaying farm
implements, but not to be used as a maintenance facility.
Remaining outbuildings and open space
• There were no strong objections to the remaining
buildings being removed, i.e. the carriage house and the machine shop.
• Design the parking area and entrance/exit to
property to be contained in the current house/barn area of the property
and retain the remaining acreage in its natural state.
• Incorporate parking for approximately 25-30
cars. The parking area materials should be of natural appearance
though effective in managing efficient parking and traffic flow.
Seasonal needs of parking, handicap space requirements, and bus
accessibility or a streetside pull-off for buses should all be
• Identify a small garden/small farming plot area,
close to the house and barn, which may be instituted if desired.
• Install a natural path, with a bridge across the
wetlands, to the access point into Devil’s Den along with other
appropriate trails through the property, including from the parking
area to the upper field.
PUBLIC HEARINGS ON LACHAT:
#2 September 25th at 7pm in the Weston
Library...we did not attend. However:
Monday evening was a busy time in Weston Town Hall complex -
Planning and Zoning held its meeting including the provocative item on
benches/tables at Weston Center. P&Z moved from their usual
place in the Commission Room to the more commodious Town Hall Meeting
Room. It is reported by an accurate source that only a "handfull"
of people were present for that issue, but one of these individuals
presented a petition signed by hundreds and hundreds (and yet again
hundreds) of individuals supporting benches/tables behind Weston
Center. P&Z OK'd the benches/tables with the usual conditions
and care they take on everything.
In the Library was Public Hearing #2
on Lachat. It is reported to
us that a crowd of 38 attended that meeting. The Weston Forum had
a reporter present (a different one than covered the first Public
Hearing). More to come...click here for
#1 was September 12 (report
Tuesday, September 12, 2006 at 7pm in the Weston Library, approximately
40 Westonites delivered comments to the new Committee. The
previous work of the previous Committees not considered - only new
thoughts. Some present described how Mr. Lachat had shared his
hillside in snow season; how beautiful it is to pass by along
Godfrey West and see the field and barns - speeders even slow down -
and it was understood that the previous Plan, although "dead" was still
in play until another was developed (our interpretation).
A copy of "Gateway" document by Edgecomb available for review, as were
"competition" boards from top two firms. Need for parking
discussed. Sense of this meeting not to develop more than
bathroom, office for someone affiliated with the property's open space
mission, minimal parking. One member of the public brought up the
fact that the choices discussed must meet with N.C. rules (i.e. no
Several people, including the First Selectman, noted that the farm
house needed work to maintain it safely (and the heating system for the
garage apartment was on shakey ground) - some action needs to be taken
soon to maintain the asset...
The Weston FORUM present.
Discussion at Special Board of Selectmen's Meeting Thursday, August 17,
2006, 5:30pm, Town Hall Meeting Room:
1. Summary given of what occured at Wednesday, August 9 meeting at
Weston Library of Lachat Advisory Committee.
2. NOTE: if desire for public input is to be met, then "hearings"
must wait until after summer vacation...when the public is around!
3. Given this decision, then it is not possible due to timing by Sec'y
of the State's office, to place a "question" on the November 7, 2006
4. "Public Hearings" set for Tuesday, September 12, 2006 at 7:30pm in
the Weston Library and Monday, September 25, 2006, 7:30pm in the
5. Status of tenant in Lachat Garage apartment: presently without
lease - Selectmen voted to give month to month lease with proviso that
heating system may need some work - a complication re: its relation to
ultimate plan for property.
The first meeting of the
Lachat Advisory Committee ("Building & Maintenance Committee") took
Wednesday, August 9, 2006, at 7:30pm, in the Weston Library. On
the agenda were four topics plus "other items." Present
were: Beal, Wolf, Greenberg, Mulcahey, Major.
First was "review of
prior plans." A discussion of the alternatives of Edgecomb and
limitations re: legal agreements took place (NOTE: "About
Town" did not arrive until @8pm).
on the agenda was "discussion of
process and feasibility by which to acquire input from Weston residents
on preferred activities going forward for the Lachat property's
building and maintenance plan and use." Will not be able to both
secure significant public input or exposure in time to put item on
November 7, 2006 ballot.
Third item was "establish
a process timeline, including meeting dates and other next
steps." This was done, with two dates in September - the 12th(a
Thursday)* and the 25th (a Monday) as times set aside for
"public hearings" - for the public to tell the Committee what they
would like to see - some positive ideas - on Lachat. These
"hearings" will be held at 7:30pm in Weston Library (with a Committee
meeting at 7pm prior to each).
Four: It is expected that
this Committee will meet once after the "public
hearings" to decide what to ask of the Lachat Conservation/Education
Center Committee re: revising previously approved concepts.
* - September
12th is a Tuesday - but it could have been the Thursday date, which
would be the 14th. We will check on this...