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STRATFORD Tavern Rock parcel to stay wooded

August 1, 2018

STRATFORD — It’s official — Tavern Rock is safe.

The 1.6-acre triangular parcel at the corner of Huntington and Tavern Rock roads has been sold by Town Hall for $200,000 to Thomas Dugas, who intends to keep the land in its natural state.

In early 2017, Dugas, whose farm abuts the Tavern Rock site, asked the Town Council to sell the property to him instead of to a developer who wanted the build two or three houses there.

Town Hall had earlier agreed to sell the parcel to a company called VG Development, but Dugas argued that the bidding process was flawed and that he was prepared to outbid the developer.

Northenders were also unhappy about the prospect of seeing houses go up on property that’s been wooded for as long as anyone could remember. About 250 residents signed a petition urging to keep the land as open space.

The push to sell the property came in 2014 after town officials expressed a desire to sell most of the small parcels that the town had acquired over the years. Most of the parcels were taken over because of unpaid taxes, but it this case, the parcel appeared to be unclaimed land.

Mayor Laura Hoydick said Wednesday that the parcel will never be developed because there’s a deed restriction that requires it to remain in its natural state.

“It will forever be open space,” the mayor said.

“He will be paying taxes on it and he’ll keep it as open space,” said Carl A. Glad, the attorney representing Dugas. He added that Dugas paid $130,000 more than what was offered by VG.

Officials said that although the Town Council agreed to sell the land to Dugas months ago, the sale was delayed because a new mayor and council took office in December 2017, two months after the parcel was properly surveyed.

The land has an intricate history — parts of it were owned by the state of Connecticut as part of the Merritt Parkway acquisition.

It also includes an abandoned street called Old Tavern Rock Road. The configurations of Tavern Rock Road and Huntington Road have changed over the years.

Whether Tavern Rock is an historical treasure or just a big boulder in the woods depends on your point of view. The Stratford Historical Society has said that there’s no record showing that the rock has any tangible significance.

Lore has it that Tavern Rock got its name from travelers on Huntington Road; the rock would serve as a reminder that a tavern was close by. It’s not know whether that tavern was in Huntington, Stratford or someplace else.

To find the parcel, head north on Huntington Road. As you approach the intersection with Hawley Lane and Tavern Rock Road, you’ll see a sign on the right warning of the low Merritt Parkway bridge ahead. Tavern Rock is in the woods a few yards to the east of the sign.

About the only mention of Tavern Rock appears on a fanciful map published in 1939 as a pull-out supplement to the book “The Who’s Who Directory of Stratford.” The map hangs in the reference room of the Stratford Library.

jburgeson@ctpost.com

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