FAIRFIELD — The town’s Conservation Director is looking to add to Fairfield’s open space inventory, with some help from the state.

So far, the purchase of 2.8 acres at 5655 Park Ave. has been approved by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, the Board of Selectmen, and the Board of Finance.

According to Carey, after working for about a year, he was able to secure grant funding from the state to cover half of the $167,500 purchase price, with the remainder coming from the department’s Grace Richardson Trust Fund.

But it’s not that the small parcel is a prime piece of open space, Carey explained recently to the Board of Selectmen.

“It’s not the highest quality open space,” Carey said, “but the adjacent piece, owned by the state, coming to us in July via a conveyance bill, is valuable.”

The state open space is 7 acres and will be deeded to the town at no cost. “So, for 10 acres of land, the town is just paying half of $167,000,” Carey said

Carey said the town had been negotiating with the property, and later with a bank when the property went into foreclosure. The property owner had previously received Inland Wetlands and zoning approval to develop the property, but nothing was ever built. “We looked at his parcel and the adjacent parcel, owned by the state, and we brokered a deal in hopes of getting this grant,” Carey said. “It took about a year for the grant to come to fruition.”

The state has owned its 7-acre parcel since about 1950, Carey said, though “no one really seems to know what the benefit of buying it for the state was.”

The lot the town is buying backs up to the Merritt Parkway. “It’s got some pretty steep grades, and a couple of access issues,” Carey said. “There are some roughed-in trails. I think the neighbors have been using it forever and ever.”

Carey said he believes the 10-acres can provide some passive recreation to the area, which he said is becoming more and more congested. He said it is also “pretty critical” for Mill River watershed quality.

The terms of the state grant require the property is maintained as open space, Carey said, and the town will be required to install a sign. The department will also provide one or two parking spaces, he said and anticipates that annual maintenance will be minimal.

“I don’t see it causing any future liability in the way of additional requests,” Carey said.

greilly@ctpost.com; @GreillyPost