City to demolish house and garage on Solomon property

The Milford Board of Aldermen recently gave its okay to demolish a house and garage on the city-owned Solomon property at 810 West River Street.

The house and garage are part of a parcel that the city bought from the Alter family in 1999 for $400,000. The city bought the adjacent 90-acre Solomon property in 2001 for $4.4 million, and today the large expanse of open space is referred to as the Solomon property.

The house and garage have been empty since the city bought the property, and today they are showing definite signs of wear. Parts of the house are in ruin and it is open to the elements. The garage is falling apart in areas also.

“After considering options that [Public Works Director] Chris Saley and I have talked about, the open space committee and the mayor, I believe the best option will be to demolish the garage and house,” Steve Johnson, city open space and natural resource agent, wrote to the city attorney’s office.

“Both structures are open to weather and animals. Both are not serving any purpose and will not benefit the open space use of the Solomon property,” Johnson added.

Johnson said the Solomon property is one of Milford’s best kept secrets because it is a beautiful place to hike and even to snowshoe in winter.

“This walk begins at 810 West River Street and is approximately one mile,” according to one published description of the land. “Blue rectangles are painted on the trees above eye level and to the right of the path. There are many bedrock ridges that overlook the surrounding landscape. The high ridge that overlooks the large central wetland and hillsides is beautiful.”

The Solomon property is located west of West River Street approximately a quarter mile north of the junction with Fresh Meadow Road and West River Street

The property is a little tricky to find because there are no signs that it is city open space. A boulder at the end of a short, overgrown driveway bears the number 810, indicating this is the place.

Finding the open space is worth the effort, though, Milford environmentalists say. A city document further describes its rich natural beauty.

“The highest ridges are considerably drier than the surrounding landscape and are dominated by red oak, black oak, white oak, and pignut hickory,” according to a city document describing the property. “Tulip tree and American beech become important species at lower elevations along the upland slopes.

“Forest structure across this parcel ranges from areas of very high stem density to areas of open park-like structure with little midstory vegetation,” the document notes. “Wetlands are also an important component of the Solomon Property. Woodland Seep/Stream Wetlands are found throughout the parcel and dominate a majority of the land area below 85 feet in elevation.”

Many of the ridges have steep drop-offs and are home to Christmas ferns and numerous lichen species, the document continues, noting that “the most dramatic of these ridges looks east over the large central wetland and has a slope of approximately 36% over a distance of 100 feet. The Solomon property also contains a significant acreage of well-established hardwood forest type that is not commonly represented in the city of Milford.”

Johnson said there had been talk about saving the garage and using it for storage or a meeting place, but with limited access to the property and security concerns, city officials decided it would be best to just take it down and use the space for easier access and more parking.

The Cape Cod style house was built in 1950. Johnson said it “is a complete liability” as it is today.

Once the buildings are gone, there may be room for 15 to 20 cars to park in the lot, Johnson said. Now there is only room for about three cars.