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Editorial: NMH course

Although the Northfield Mount Hermon School has been a one-campus school in Gill since 2005, the prep school remains tied to Northfield.

After all, we’d be likely talking about a different situation had not evangelist and native son Dwight L. Moody returned to his hometown to establish the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in 1879 and Mount Hermon School for Boys in 1881. And all through the decades, the village of Northfield has been a commercial hub for the school — a place accepted for its role in being the temporary home for students from near and far.

That sense of place didn’t change when in 1971 when the two schools were made into one co-educational institution. Even now, Northfield sees itself as still having that connection.

And though NMH has consolidated its operation across the Connecticut River, the school is still one proud of its Northfield history and of keeping strong ties with the community.

Which brings us to the future of the NMH-owned nine-hole golf course.

The school’s decision to separate the course from the overall package that is up for sale is a good one. NMH should take it one step further, finding a way to provide Northfield with the golf course, clubhouse, pool, poolhouse and adjoining open field. Taking this approach would be a sincere demonstration that NMH is talking a good game in public while trying all that it can to sever the remaining last ties with Northfield.

Even if the school is unable or unwilling to make the golf course an outright gift, a deal could be worked that would be beneficial to both the town and school.

Why should Northfield be interested in such a deal? Consider that passive and active recreation are among the priorities voiced by residents during its master plan revision process. Also, the Northfield Recreation Commission has expressed interest in the open field as a place where it could put a softball field and a community park. Adding a golf course and pool into the mix would seem a natural part of the equation.

We understand that the school was seeking $1.25 million for the entire package when it put the property on the market in March. But in this case, the price of good will and its relationship to Northfield is worth more.

Northfield Mount Hermon has a legacy of creating community. That image can only be enhanced by such a gift to Northfield.

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