Tuesday, January 15, 2013

City Buying Dikovsky Poultry Farm Along Rec Path

Dikovsky Sign on Buddington Rd
A vulnerable stretch of land along the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path is being preserved as open space with the purchase of the former Dikovsky poultry and egg farm on Old Town Road, off of Buddington Road. Although the Rec Path itself was not threatened, about a quarter mile stretch of the popular trail near Wesley Drive overlooks a scenic wooded valley that was part of the farm and could have been subdivided by the owner, Basil Dikovsky. The sale includes several buildings related to the farm operations for which Mr. Dikovsky retains life use.

The Rec Path overlooks the new property
The new open space expands the Shelton Lakes Greenway, a corridor of natural green space that encompasses more that 450 acres of woodlands, three reservoirs, a dog park, gardens, and eleven miles of hiking trails.  Click here for a Google Map aerial showing the property boundaries. The four-mile Shelton Lakes Recreation Path is a multi-use trail completed in 2012.

Dikovsky property as seen from the Rec Path near Wesley Drive

Eugene Dikovsky at Buddington Rd
Basil Dikovsky was just two when his parents Eugene and Nadezda when he came to America from Czechoslovakia, his father having fled communists in Russia during WWI. They purchased the Shelton property in 1934 and began raising chickens for both eggs and meat, although it was not really  until the early 1940's that the operations became substantial. At its peak in the 1970s there were as many as 12,000 chickens and several people were employed gathering, grading, and packing eggs. Basil's mother, Nadezda, which means "hope" in Russian, managed the sales and marketing, mostly to the small corner grocery stores that were once much more prevalent than they are today.

Basil moving chickens from brooder house to main coop c.1949

 Basil Dikovsky moving chickens c.1949
In the early years Nadezda washed clothes in the brook and the family collected mushrooms in the valley. They also grew produce, kept goats, and collected many gallons of honey from bee hives.  In 2011, the small stream flowing along the valley floor was officially named Basil Brook in honor of Basil Dikovsky, who previously donated a portion of his property for the Rec Path. 

The City is paying $450,000 for the 13.1-acre property in three installments with the final payment to be made in July of 2014.  Although the City will not take title to the property before the final payment, it will have use of the land and has the option of removing a large chicken coop that is in disrepair.  Mr. Dikovsky has kept a portion of the farm for his home and also retains life use of all the farm buildings except for the coop that may be removed.  Open space purchases in residentially zoned areas are often used as a tool to keep local tax rates from increasing.  The cost of City services required by most new subdivisions, especially the cost of school services, is greater than the amount of tax revenues collected from new residents. Open space purchases in residential areas therefore pay for themselves over time.

Basil Brook runs along the bottom of the valley

Map showing the land purchase relative to the Rec Path

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weather, time, and fungus growth have taken their toll on many of the rails on our fence line along the Silent Waters dam, creating a potential hazard. To prevent fence-sitters and aerial artists from plunging into the abyss below, members of the Trails Committee tackled the worst of the offending rails, replacing them with new treated stock.

Click on photos to enlarge

Jim and Terry struggle to remove a damaged rail. Most difficult was trying to remove and replace 11 ft. rails between 10 ft. spaced posts. 

 A broken rail can lead to a serious fall. "It's a loooong way down!"

Using leverage helped move the posts just enough to insert the new rails

"Hmmm! This worked on my fingernails!"

"Now when I nod my head, you hit it with the sledge"

Jim, Sandie, and Terry fit a new rail

Sandie shows the men how it's done

Richard sees a photo op and gets into the picture

 Some of the new rails in place

In all, 12 of the rails in questionable condition were replaced, with more scheduled for future work parties. It goes without saying that even with newer, sturdier rails, one should not lean on, stand on, or even sit on this fence.