Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Nicholdale Farm: Preserved by a Pipeline

If not for the Iroquois Pipeline, Nicholdale Farm would probably have been converted into a housing development in the early 1990s.  The farm is now a popular place to walk and relax with nature.

The pipeline stretches from Canada to Long Island

When their pipeline was built, the Iroquois Company paid property owners directly when they needed an easement, but also compensated the greater community for environmental disruption. With 8.3 miles of new pipeline, the City of Shelton received $972,000 from the Iroquois Land Preservation and Enhancement Program (LPEP). The money could only be used for the purchase and preservation of open space or public recreation. City leaders at the time were planning on using the funds to pay for the new Community Center, but this use was denied and a new plan was needed. 

It so happens that the old Nichols family dairy farm known as "Nicholdale" was coming on the market in the White Hills. The price tag for the core 52-acre farm was $1.3 million, so additional funding beyond the City's Iroquois allotment would be needed. A group calling itself "Partners in Protection" was created to work on the project. A tremendous amount of time and energy was devoted towards the complex partnership. Terry Jones estimated he personally spent 500 hours pulling all the pieces together. 

Nicholdale Farm meadow

In the end, four property owners agreed to donate all the money they received from Iroquois (due to easements crossing their properties): The Shelton Land Trust, Bridgeport Hydraulic Company (BHC - now known as Aquarion), Jones Family Farms, and the City of Shelton. The project funding was still short until the Shelton Conservation Commission added another $100,000.  At that time, the City of Shelton did not yet have a system for maintaining open space, so the property was placed into the hands of the private Shelton Land Conservation Trust. 
The little stone bridge is on water company land

This 52-acre core properties included several meadows and what became a Youth Camp. (The property is no longer farmed). But Nicholdale Farm wasn't done growing. A few years later, a 7-acre property was transferred from Iroquois to the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company with a deed restriction that required passive public recreation so long as the Nicholdale Farm was open to the public. The State of Connecticut later purchased an easement for recreation and preservation on the BHC property as part of the new Centennial Watershed State Forest. Hikers familiar with the Nicholdale Farm will recognize the stone bridge on it. 

The Crown Tool property

The 13-acre Crown Tool property was acquired by the Land Trust in the late 1990s, along with a 3-acre parcel where the overflow parking lot is located.  The Crown Tool land is directly across the street from the Land Trust's Willis Woods property, providing linkage between Land Trust properties. 

Nicholdale Farm properties

The Nicholdale property seems larger than its 75 acres due to the surrounding lands being undeveloped. Some of these lands are permanently protected, while others are not. The Iroquois gas pipeline crosses the property, crossing Rt 110 at Willis Woods, cutting through the woods, and heading south towards Pearmain Road. The Pearmain Path south of Nicholdale crosses the pipeline twice. 
Trail Map


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