'Magnificent' Gift—For Members Only [UPDATE]

You need to be a member of the Tokeneke Association—or invited by a friend of one—to enjoy the magnificent acre donated to the Darien Land Trust. Otherwise, the pictures published with this article are as close as you're going to get.

Update 11:55 a.m., Saturday:

Membership has its privileges, and to have the privilege of enjoying the newly donated acre of land along the Tokeneke Trail, you'll have to be a Tokeneke Association member or be invited by one.

Otherwise, no "magnificent" acre for you.

The Darien Land Trust on Friday announced the "generous" donation from Ann J. Bolling and the Bolling family of the 1.08 acres of land, which will be added to the Tokeneke Nature Preserve on Friday, but after Darien Patch first published this article about the gift, Mary Rooney wrote again to clarify that it wasn't a gift to the general public.

"Because Tokeneke is a private association, the Nature Preserve is only open to Tokeneke residents and their guests," Rooney wrote in the email.

For those allowed to enjoy it, she wrote, the acre "is accessible by traveling to the end of Tokeneke Trail, and the meadow will be on the left."

Thinking of moving to Tokeneke and joining the association? Good luck: According to a 2005 article about the neighborhood in the Real Estate section of the New York Times, "Living in Tokeneke is more of an aspiration than an option. [...] Tokeneke is the province of a fortunate few" because it's one of the most expensive places to live in Darien or anywhere else.

The land trust has other properties open to the public, Rooney wrote, including Dunlap Woods, Olsen Woods and the Traendly Flood Plains that border Norwalk.

Darien residents not part of the Tokeneke Association may, however, still have an abiding connection with the property:

If the property has been on Darien tax rolls, as residential property normally is, and if the nonprofit Darien Land Trust pays no property taxes on the land, then every other taxpayer in town will contribute to the Tokeneke Association members' enjoyment of the magnificent property in perpetuity.

Ann Bowling or her family, or both, may possibly use the donation for a one-time tax break, since the Darien Land Trust, as it says on its website "is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, and all dues and contributions are tax deductible," so U.S. taxpayers, as a whole, will have a slightly higher tax burden for the benefit of the Tokeneke Association's membership. 

Original article, Friday:

An acre of land along the Tokeneke Trail has been donated to the Darien Land Trust, according to trust officials.

Ann J. Bowling and the Bowling family donated 1.04 acres to the trust in late December.

"This spectacular wooded property completes the 23-acre Tokeneke Nature Preserve that is in the heart of the Tokeneke Association," according to Mary Rooney of the Darien Land Trust. She said photographs of the donated land show "the magnificence of the property."

The land trust now preserves 191 acres of open space in town. "Our mission is to conserve natural areas and open vistas for the community to enjoy forever," Rooney said.

wm January 28, 2012 at 06:11 PM
This does not make sense, in the restrictions on using the property. Either the Land trust owns the property or the Tokeneke Association owns it. The land was given to the Trust, and perhaps the deed of gift restricted the use of the land to only those in the Association, but if it did and the land owner lived in the Association, then they have given the land to themselves, and there is a question of whether or not the gift would be tax deductible. Even if they did not restrict it, the fact is that if the Land trust owns the land, the Association can not restrict its use to members of the Land Trust. If the land in question was a lot, then the members of the Land Trust as owners of the lot would be members of the Association, and if the land is restricted to members of the Association and their guests, presumably then guests of the land trust would be guests of the Association. As the owners of the lot, members of the land trust would, even if somehow not members of the Tokeneke Association, still be able to use their own land. Because the land trust is a membership organization and that organization again owns the land, so as owners of the land the land trust members have an absolute right to enjoy their own property. It the deed of git gave a restriction on the use to the Association, then the Association would have an ownership interest in the land, and if the Association is not tax exempt, then the land donation would not be tax deductible, or tax exempt.
wm January 28, 2012 at 06:30 PM
After some thought it seems to me that the only way to restrict the use of the reserve to land trust members, and their guests is to put a blanket restriction on the land, allowing no one except a person in a caretaker capacity on the property, as a nature preserve this might be allowed, on the other hand members of the land trust, could as owners of a lot in the association avail themselves of the other amenities in the association, and even have a vote at the association meetings.
Julie January 29, 2012 at 11:38 AM
It seems to me a can of worms has been opened. It's hardly the right political climate to have the wealthy get a tax break by giving to the wealthy (including themselves) at the expense of the general taxpaying public. Perhaps donating this land to the Darien Land Trust was not the right vehicle and maybe the Land Trust should have seen the conflict it would create. Why didn't the family just donate the land to the Tokeneke Association? They'd still have use of the land but maybe no tax deduction!
Charley January 30, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Lets not forget that it was never the "states" land, much less your land in the first place. Bowling family doesn't owe anybody anything.
sebastian dangerfield January 30, 2012 at 06:35 PM
julie essentially says that if you are rich and try to do a good thing-you should not receive any credit. Julie--donate your house or land-and we will give you 1.5 times credit. The left wants to portray the rich as these evil people who should receive nothing in return for anything. Meanwhile the top 2% pay 50+% of all taxes. Do you even get that? You take Mitt romney --he pays 6.5 million dollars to the government 6.5MILLION and then you have 1000 occupy people who have paid a total of ZERO--and these are the guys saying that Mitt isnt paying his fair share? Is zero fair? for sitting in a park writing graffiti --burning the flag, etc? Those people are paying zero and that is what is fair? For doing zilch? I dont get it.....if I get in free to a football game--and someone else is asked to pay 5 mio to get in--i dont yell that he should have paid 9 mio. And say he is ripping me off. Where do these people come from? The family gives away their land to the public-and now they are characterized as bad people? Maybe you dont care--but dont twist everything into a contest of how the rich need to sacrifice everything and we should admire people who camp out and burn the flag as being the righteous. Everything is getting ridiculous.
Siwanoy January 30, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Luca, why lie? "The family gives away their land to the public-and now they are characterized as bad people? " None of the posters have said the family were bad people, I expected you to be above things like this.
sebastian dangerfield January 31, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Filipe-- I interpreted this comment "to have the wealthy get a tax break by giving to the wealthy (including themselves) at the expense of the general taxpaying public. Im interpreting that as a negative comment about what transpired.


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