Considering chance for runoff fix, Greenfield mayor delays Stone Ridge Lane transfer

  • Mold growing along the baseboards of offices on the eastern side of the Greenfield Police Station on High Street is being caused by runoff from the nearby ridge. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

  • A map showcasing 87 Stone Ridge Lane in Greenfield and the adjacent 13-acre parcel. Screenshot

Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2022 7:20:18 PM
Modified: 8/10/2022 7:17:02 PM

GREENFIELD — Out of concern that enacting a conservation restriction on the city’s 13-acre Stone Ridge Lane parcel might impact the city’s ability to make changes to the ridge to address runoff issues, the mayor is delaying giving the property to the Conservation Commission.

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner explained Tuesday that the problematic drainage is leading to mold at the Police Station on High Street, something the city is exploring methods to fix.

“The (Police Station) is right up against a ridge. That ridge is part of the (Stone Ridge Lane) property,” she told the Conservation Commission. “What happens there, if I understand it correctly, is particularly caused by snow melt. … Over time, it’s created a very significant mold issue. It’s one of many things — if the Police Department is going to stay in that building, which, unfortunately, they are going to for several years going forward — on the list that needs to be corrected.”

She said the mold issue has been identified as a priority in the five-year capital plan for the Police Department. As a result, Wedegartner said, she is “reluctant at this time” to allow a blanket conservation restriction, in case there are any adjustments that need to be made on the ridge.

“I’m asking for continued patience,” she said, after apologizing for the length of time it took to reach this conclusion. “I’m not against turning it over to the Conservation Commission at all.”

The land, which had been privately owned for decades, contains a network of trails that previous owners have left open to the public. Concerns about a previously planned auction of the land were initially raised by the Conservation Commission in a letter to the mayor that was drafted during a special meeting in September 2021.

Wedegartner announced a month later that the city would retain, rather than send to auction, the 13-acre parcel on Stone Ridge Lane that abuts Rocky Mountain Park. Meanwhile, the adjacent 6-acre parcel containing a 2,900-square-foot, 1915 single-family home was sold at auction on Oct. 13.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Conservation Commission Chair Travis Drury told Wedegartner that he appreciates the fact she has no plans to sell or develop the land. Still, he noted the city wouldn’t necessarily need to withhold the land from the commission for the reasons she outlined.

“The Conservation Commission has regulations for the use of conservation land,” Drury said. “One of them does say that the use of cars, trucks or other powered vehicles or tools, except for municipal and maintenance vehicles, is not permitted.”

He added that his “biggest concern” is what the next mayor might want to do with the Stone Ridge Lane parcel, if it is not under the control of the Conservation Commission.

Commissioner Fletcher Harrington echoed Drury’s comments.

“Given all that space — from the back of the Police Station to the top of the bank and what the town owns there — and the fact that turning it over to the commission wouldn’t be changing ownership … and there wouldn’t be specific prohibitions on access, necessarily … I don’t know that there would be any conflict, even if it was turned over to us, under our care, and specified as a conservation/recreation use,” Harrington said.

“It’s still a town-owned property and if there was some emergency maintenance that needed to be done … even if it was significant, I don’t think that it would necessarily conflict.”

Aaron Nelson, the community conservation project manager with Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, outlined for Wedegartner and the commission the possibility of trail easements as a tool to make sure the trails remain protected in the meantime.

“In thinking about trail easements, they’re a conservation tool the city could grant to a third organization, like a land trust, that would see that trail corridor protected in perpetuity for recreational purposes,” Nelson said. “It’s often used more if there’s a private landowner that wants to retain the land, but there’s a trail that crosses their property ... but it’s certainly an option if the city would like to explore it.”

Precinct 4 City Councilor John Bottomley expressed concern regarding how long it took to get a response on the question of turning the land over for Conservation Commission control.

“I’m not convinced the Police Station is really part of this, with 150 feet on the property line,” he commented. “I’m not convinced that has any part in conserving this land. It’s quite a bit of land, and I’d hate to see the whole thing not happen because a few feet of land. … I’m just wondering, how do we go forward?”

Wedegartner emphasized that withholding the land from the Conservation Commission is a temporary measure.

“This is not something that the city intends to hang onto for a matter of time,” she said. “It’s just a matter of gathering the proper information.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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