City buys Old Town Road Property, to preserve as open space

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.

The city is buying the 13-acre property for  $450,000, to be made in three installments, according to a release from the city’s Conservation Commission. The final payment is to be made in July of 2014.

Although the Rec. Path itself was not threatened, the commission said, 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 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.  The four-mile Shelton Lakes Recreation Path is a multi-use trail completed in 2012.

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 World War I. They purchased the Shelton property in 1934 and began raising chickens for both eggs and meat, although it was not until the early 1940’s that the operations became substantial. At its peak in the 1970’s there were as many as 12,000 chickens and several people were employed gathering, grading, and packing eggs. Basil’s mother, Nadezda, managed the sales and marketing, mostly to the small corner grocery stores that were once much more prevalent than they are today.

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 will not take title to the property before the final payment but it will have use of the land and has the option of removing a large chicken coop that is in disrepair.   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. Open space purchases in residentially zoned areas are often used as a tool to keep local tax rates from increasing, the commission said. 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.