Conservation Commission appeals to Mayor Wedegartner

  • Greenfield Town Hall RECORDER FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 9/19/2021 10:43:00 PM

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, the Conservation Commission urges you to withdraw 87 Stone Ridge Lane and the adjacent undeveloped 13-acre parcel from the upcoming public auction on Sept. 22. While the commission is aware that the city is not required to consult with public bodies before selling tax title properties at auction, these parcels provide extraordinary opportunities for increasing open space protection in Greenfield.

For the last 70 years, this land has played an important role as an unofficial extension of the recreational trails, forestland and wildlife habitat of Rocky Mountain Park just north of Poet’s Seat. The trails along that ridge are part of our deep cultural history and were undoubtedly used by both people and wildlife long before the founding of Greenfield.

This area is a landmark of our community. All avenues of conservation should be explored before putting these parcels up for auction.

The Stone Ridge Lane parcels are of particular conservation value. They abut Rocky Mountain Conservation Area and provide nearly 20 acres of additional contiguous forested space. The red, white and blue trails, three of the park’s most popular trails, would end abruptly if not for their confluence on the 13-acre southern parcel.

Removing public access to these parcels would also remove critical access to the park from the north. These trails see regular use by hikers, dog walkers, cyclists and trail runners. They also offer a bit of nearby solitude for visitors to Poet’s Seat on days when the tower and parking area become crowded.

These parcels provide exemplary natural communities and critical habitat for State-listed plants and wildlife. They are classified by MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as Priority Habitat of Rare Species and Biomap2 Core Habitat, defined as lands that “are most critical for ensuring the long-term persistence of rare and other native species and their habitats, exemplary natural communities, and a diversity of ecosystems.”

The conservation of these parcels is in line with the goals developed with public input in Greenfield’s Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) 2021-2028, which states: “… pieces of the Rocky Mountain ridge on the east are currently unprotected and are valued as scenic views. Development in these areas would limit public access to the numerous magnificent vistas from these high elevations. Preservation of these areas should be prioritized.” (Page 4-16) One of the first goals identified in the OSRP contains the following action: “Make needed improvements to Poet Seat/Rocky Mountain Ridge...Develop a formalized interconnected trail system along the entire length of the Rocky Mountain Ridge” (page 9-7)

In our recent special meeting, the Commission received public comments in support of withdrawing the properties from auction to preserve them as Open Space. We are confident that alternative solutions exist that can meet both fiscal and open space and recreation goals, such as conservation easements and public-private partnerships.

The packet for the upcoming auction states “Seller reserves the right to cancel or withdraw a property at any time,” and Greenfield tax title properties have been withdrawn from public auction in the past. The Conservation Commission urges you to exercise this right to withdraw the Stone Ridge Lane parcels from the auction and initiate a process that allows us to work together with you, City Council, the Recreation Department, local organizations and the public to keep these resources accessible. Without such a process, the people of Greenfield could be denied the continued enjoyment of this unique open space and the conservation of its natural resources.

The Greenfield Conservation Commission members are: Travis Drury, chair; Rachel Lindsay, vice-chair; Fletcher Harrington; Erika LaForme; and Christin McDonough.




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