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Simsbury Receives FEMA Grant For First Stage Of Flower Bridge Park

Simsbury is one step closer to getting a small park adjacent to one of its most iconic landmarks.

The board of selectmen on Monday accepted a $41,978.48 reimbursement grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration for the demolition of the existing house at 1 Old Bridge Road, next to the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge. The grant was awarded to the town as part of FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Assistance program.

Selectmen voted to request a supplemental budget appropriation to qualify for the reimbursement. The matter will be taken up by the board of finance for approval later this month.

The project has been in the works since 2014, when the town purchased the house for about $150,000, said Town Engineer Jerome F. Shea.

The property was previously owned by Betty Hudson, a former member of the flower bridge committee. Hudson died in October.

First Selectwoman Lisa Heavner said Monday work is likely to begin on the site later this year.

The half-acre parcel borders 1.8 acres of town-owned land. It sits along a portion of Hop Brook, which feeds into the Farmington River.

Public hearings were held in the spring of 2015 and the open space committee subsequently offered a recommendation for future use of the property. A conceptual plan was developed by Cheshire-based consulting firm Milone & MacBroom last April.

That plan calls for the demolition of the house and building an open-air pavilion or gazebo overlooking Hop Brook and the Farmington River in its place. There would be a path leading to canoe and kayak access to Hop Brook, with benches along the overlook to the river.

The grass area that borders Drake Hill Road would be mown and enclosed by a border of native trees and plantings. There would also be wildlife educational areas scattered on the property.

The existing picnic and seating area along the riverbank will remain but could include stone steps to control waterfront access.

Shea said last summer that the plan will likely be completed in two phases, the first of which could include the demolition.

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