WOODBURY — Shortly after the town purchased the former Aquarion reservoir property for open space, they renamed it the Trolley Bed Preserve for the old cars that used to run through the land along the trails.
On Friday, town leaders will rename the main trail in the preserve after a longtime conservationist whose dream it was to preserve that land and who helped secure the largest open space grant from the state to purchase the property.
The Frederick “Dick” Leavenworth Trail will be dedicated to the late Woodbury resident who died in 2018 at age 83.
The town for more than 50 years tried to acquire the 248acre reservoir, and with the help of a $1.5 million Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Open Space grant the largest ever awarded Woodbury bought the property in 2016 to forever preserve as open space. Leavenworth was instrumental in helping get the grant.
Woodbury First Selectman Barbara K. Perkinson said she is glad Leavenworth got to see the purchase completed, but it’s bittersweet that he won’t see the trail named for him. But it was long planned to honor Leavenworth for his work.
“Dick was thrilled and honored to have his name associated with the property that he had dreamed of acquiring for 50-plus years,” Perkinson said. “I had mentioned it to Dick that we were going to do this, but with his passing he never got to see it for himself.”
Leavenworth was a lifelong Woodbury resident and served for decades in volunteer capacities around Northwest Connecticut. He was a member of Woodbury Conservation Commission for more than 50 years, founder and former chairman of the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition, vice president of the Northwest Conservation District, founder and chairman of the Woodbury Conservation Committee and a member of the King’s Mark Resource Conservation and Development Board.
Leavenworth volunteered with Flanders Nature Center for more than 20 years, helping obtain acres of land to preserve as open space. Flanders named a 126-acre property of walking and hiking trails the Leavenworth Preserve for his efforts.
He was honored countless times for his preservation efforts with awards including the Aquarion Environmental Champion Award, the Dr. Marc J. Taylor Environmental Stewardship Award, the Bernard Rosenberg Award, the Duncan M. Graham Award for Regional Leadership and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Association of Inland Wetlands.
“He was so dedicated to Woodbury and the welfare of the land. He was a true gentleman,” Perkinson said. Selectman George Hale said Leavenworth’s dedication to Woodbury “was unmatched.”
A new sign was purchased for $950 with money from Aquarion that is earmarked for use within the preserve.
Perkinson enlisted the help of Arthur Milnor of Flanders Nature Center and Carol Haskins of the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition to help form a dedication ceremony, which will take place Friday at 10 a.m. at the main entrance to the preserve at Trolley Bed Road and Old Sherman Hill Road.