Greenfield Conservation Commission asks mayor to transfer Stone Ridge Lane parcel

GINNY DESORGHER

GINNY DESORGHER

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-10-2024 4:49 PM

GREENFIELD — Following up on its requests under the former administration, the Conservation Commission asked Mayor Ginny Desorgher on Tuesday to bring the proposed transfer of the 13-acre Stone Ridge Lane property for use as permanently protected conservation land before City Council.

Desorgher responded that she is “definitely amenable” to bringing City Council the idea of turning the land over to the Conservation Commission, but requested that the commission draft a written statement outlining how the parcel’s rare plant species population and shallow bedrock renders it suboptimal for development, for submission to the city’s legal department.

“I’d have to talk to legal. … If you could put that in writing, then I’d have something clear to say, other than how beautiful I think [the land] is, to talk to City Council about,” Desorgher told the commission. “I have walked a lot through there, it’s beautiful.”

The land abuts the Rocky Mountain Conservation Area lining a portion of the Connecticut River and was privately owned for decades before it was put to auction and subsequently retained by the city in 2021 under former Mayor Roxann Wedegartner’s administration.

In an effort to expand the Rocky Mountain Conservation Area and preserve public access to the parcel’s network of trails, Conservation Commission Chair Travis Drury said his board had made numerous pleas to the former administration requesting the land be turned over to the commission.

“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,” the commission wrote in an open letter to Wedegartner in 2021.

In 2022, the city delayed the potential land transfer amid concerns that enacting a conservation restriction might hinder the city’s ability to repair runoff problems, which caused leakage and mold at the nearby Police Station. Desorgher said contractors are now repairing the runoff issues, which should be done within the coming weeks.

The natural area, Conservation Commission Vice Chair Christin McDonough said, was noted in the city’s Open Space and Recreation Plan as a key conservation space. Drury also added that the location’s ridge is identified as a landmark feature of the city.

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Commission member Erika LaForme also mentioned that since the portions of forest south of Stone Ridge Lane are owned by the Recreation Department, the transfer would unite the majority of city-owned woods spanning most of the city north-to-south.

“This was considered a high-priority area for conservation of our city’s open space, because it’s continuously abutting a large track of existing conservation land and there are existing trails that go through them,” McDonough said. “It’s an exemplary natural community with a number of rare plants. … It’s a special area.”

The Conservation Commission will discuss its letter to Desorgher and the legal department at its next meeting in May.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.