August 8, 2020

Old Lyme Closes on Land Purchase From McCulloch Family: 300 Acres Designated as Open Space, Six Acres as Affordable Housing

Gathered at the start of a recent hike are, from left to right, Old Lyme Land Trust Chairman Mike Kiernan, Old Lyme Open Space Commission Co-Chairman Amanda Blair and Land Steward Peter Norris. Blair, Open Space Commission Co-Chair William Dunbar (not in photo) and the members of the Commission were thanked by First Selectwoman Reemsnyder for their “hard work” related to the McCulloch land acquisition.

OLD LYME — (Press release from the Town of Old Lyme) The Town of Old Lyme has closed on the purchase of approximately 300 acres from David McCulloch/the Jean A. McCulloch Farm LLC effective Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The sale involved two parts – the purchase of land that is an addition to Town Open Space and the set-aside of two smaller areas to be reserved for potential affordable housing lots.

The Town paid $500,000 for the new open space, and $50,000 each for two three-acre areas off Flat Rock Hill Rd., adjacent to affordable housing lots previously given to the town by David McCulloch. If the two smaller areas are not developed as affordable housing within five years, they will revert to open space and be added to the new Open Space parcel.

The property was first assembled by Rook and Warren McCulloch in 1929, and their heirs had overlapping interests. The Vasiloff family re-configured their renowned Morgan horse farm, and moved and re-installed equine fencing before the closing. The Town’s Open Space Commission worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, which holds a conservation easement on the property, to ensure the sale specifics met their approval.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder commented, “We commend the McCulloch family for their foresight in protecting the land and for their decades of loving stewardship. This new open space will be a treasure for town residents.”

She commended members of the Open Space Commission for “their hard work on the acquisition of this beautiful property with its special ecological importance as part of the upper watershed of the Black Hall River and linkage to our tidal marshes.”

The Open Space Commission will now partner with the Old Lyme Land Trust to map, develop and mark three trails within the McCulloch Family Open Space, with a new “Tree in the Gap” trail likely to be accessible first from Whippoorwill Road. Volunteers are welcome to join in this final step to make the property safely accessible. Help will be needed to remove old fencing and invasive plants, and to install map kiosks, gates and signage. Persons interested in lending a hand should contact the Open Space Commission via email at

Upon completion of this work, a ceremony/trail inauguration will be scheduled to officially open the property to the public.



  1. Give me a break. To suggest this location is desirable for affordable housing development is liken to suggesting developing Poverty Island for the same reason, it’s against all rational thought that suggests this type of housing should be developed around services to support a community of this type.

    So now the oracle that sits in the front office at town hall suggests the formation of an affordable housing committee to develop a plan for using this remote site and who knows what else. Oracle, where have you been for the last 10 years, since 2010 the Board of Selectmen and the Zoning Commission have been tasked with developing such a plan as well as a funding source for land purchase neither of which has happened.

    I would suggest anyone interested in the facts, and not misinformation, read Old Lyme’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). This document that was approved by all of us and required the town agencies that I mentioned above to act on actions that would have prevented the proposed Affordable Housing Project off Rt. 156 from being a divisive issue.

  2. J David Kelsey says

    Why is the first selectwoman’s photo part of this story?

    • The First Selectwoman’s photo is included because she is quoted in the press release. We were also waiting for photos of the property and/or Commission members involved in the acquisition, the latter of which we have now received and published.

  3. Nice to see a member of Old Lyme’s board of finance join this conversation. I would like mr. Kelsey to respond to my question asking should the board of finance provide more oversight to justify funding to support major projects like this land purchase and the proposed sewer project.

  4. I mentioned the proposed sewer project for it is my understanding that Old Lyme does not even have a letter of understanding between the towns of East Lyme,Waterford and New London who’s sewer systems that we must connect into stating stating such issues as our capacity needs yet the board of finance has given approval to this 9 million-dollar bonding issue to fund this project. Am I wrong?

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