BETHANY - Electors will vote upon the purchase of a 10-acre parcel, known as "the Geiss property," to be preserved as natural open space at a town meeting Thursday, Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.

The tract is adjacent to the portion of Veterans' Memorial Park, the former "Monument Stables," and also abuts another natural wetland owned by a non-profit organization. According to Conservation Commission Chairman Ken Martin, the area is adjacent to "environmentally fragile wetlands." It has scenic, rolling terrain with a rock outcropping at the entrance.

On the market for several years, the land was zoned as a building lot. Access for a driveway crosses a wetland, however, which would have increased the costs of development. The dry portion of the narrow access, at the junction of Lebanon and Fairway Roads, is wide enough to be utilized for a trail through the property and will connect that neighborhood to the town-owned Veteran's Memorial Park.

Although the "sticker price" was $250,000, after negotiations between First Selectwoman Derrylynn Gorski and Beazley broker Tom Cavaliere the two owners, Hannah Laura Bucharest and Klaus Saeurber, offered to donate $75,000 to the town, making the actual amount Bethany will spend, $150,000.

"I was very pleased to be able to work with Bethany resident, Tom Cavaliere, who represented the owners of the property, to negotiate a purchase price that is affordable for the town," Gorski said.

"The agreement benefits the sellers in that they will receive their asking price; it benefits the town in that the sellers have agreed to donate $75,000 of the price to the town. This is a tax benefit to the sellers and a cost benefit to the town. It means that the property will actually cost the town $150,000, an amount we have in our Land Acquisition Fund," Gorski said.

"The purpose of the Land Acquisition Fund," Gorski said, "is not only to protect the town from 'over development', it is also to preserve diverse landscapes that offer fragile natural communities and habitats for plants and animals, and that offer green spaces accessible to residents. This property does that," Gorski said.

The property was not included in the town's 1998 Open Space Plan, Martin said, because only properties over 15 acres were evaluated at that time. Subsequently, the Commission has placed it on the list of properties for the updated plan still under preparation.

After approval by the Board of Finance, the Planning and Zoning Commission had to determine that the acreage met with the guidelines of the town's plan of conservation and development. Subsequent to the go-ahead from those town officers, the purchase was placed on the call for the town meeting.

Preservation of the Geiss property, Martin said, "will protect the water in the swimming pond at Veterans' Memorial Park as well as allow access to the Park."

Gorski also spoke to protection of water.

"While walking the property back in July with members of the Conservation Commission, I learned that it is being designated as a desirable parcel on the Open Space Plan not only because it is a "connecting parcel" with other town owned properties, but also because it is ecologically fragile. Water from this property drains into an important wetland; as town property, it will only be used for passive recreation. By protecting the functional integrity of finite wildlife habitats and natural resource systems, we maintain our quality of life and preserve our natural heritage for our children."

In addition to the vote on purchase of the property, the town meeting will allow electors to meet candidates running for the Amity Board of Education position vacated by Lorri Cavaliere. That portion of the meeting will be adjourned to a referendum, to be held on Feb. 5.