Saturday, March 23, 2013
The Diocese of Bridgeport plans to sell the approximately 136-acre Castle Hill parcels in Newtown to Joseph Draper, a Newtown resident, who intends to maintain the existing character of the properties.
The two parcels, which make up the former Gretsch estate, are 60 and 20 Castle Hill Road. Referred to by the Newtown Forest Association as “the Crown of Castle Hill,” the property is located across from the Nettleton Preserve.
“Mr. Draper is a member of a Newtown family with a deep appreciation of the natural beauty and history of the site, and he has pledged to respect that in the future. He is a life long resident of Newtown and has no plans for that to change and looks forward to maintaining the integrity of the parcel.” said Anne O. McCrory, Chancellor of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
McCrory said that in the process of preparing to sell the property, the Diocese became aware of the great interest in the parcel on the part of many of the town’s constituencies who have spoken to the historic and environmental value of the property and the need to preserve it.
“We worked very hard in the last several weeks to consider the sensitive nature of these parcels for the people of Newtown and to make a decision on a sale that could satisfy both the strong desire to preserve the nature of the property and meet our own objectives in selling the land. We feel fortunate that Mr. Draper is a Newtown resident who has a strong appreciation of the land and its unique location and is in a position to purchase it,” McCrory said. The sale is likely to close within thirty days.
“My family’s purpose in purchasing the site is to maintain this great property largely in its current state. We look forward to meeting with interested parties in Newtown to discuss alternative approaches to accomplish our goal of preserving this site for generations to come,” said Mr. Draper.
The Diocese acquired the property in 1995 from the Gretsch estate. After initially exploring possible use as a retreat center, the Diocese held the property unused for many years and recently decided to sell it. The Diocese initially discussed the planned sale of the properties with certain town officials and other interested parties and has continued an open dialogue with these interested parties throughout this process.
The Diocese of Bridgeport was established on August 6, 1953, and encompasses all of Fairfield County. It numbers 82 parishes, and 30 elementary schools and five high schools serving 11,000 youth. Through its Catholic Charities, the Diocese also provides more than 1.2 million meals a year to the poor and hungry.
St. Rose of Lima Parish, founded in 1869 is the only Catholic Church in Newtown. It numbers over 3,500 families.