Greenfield Conservation Commission requests withdrawal of Stone Ridge Lane auction

  • The Greenfield Conservation Commission presented a heat map based on GPS signals of people using the trails running through the two properties up for auction on Stone Ridge Lane. Trails in yellow indicate higher recreation traffic. Screenshot

Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2021 5:24:04 PM

GREENFIELD — The Conservation Commission drafted a letter to the mayor at a special meeting Friday night to ask for the postponement of Wednesday’s auction of 87 Stone Ridge Lane and an adjacent parcel, which abuts Rocky Mountain Park.

The land, which has been privately owned for decades, contains a network of trails that previous owners have left open to the public. The Conservation Commission’s letter states its desire to postpone the auction so more public discussion can be held on ways to ensure the land is conserved — Greenfield’s Open Space and Recreation Plan highlights Rocky Mountain Ridge — and remains available for recreational use.

Conservation Commission Chair Travis Drury said hosting an auction erases the opportunity to protect the land, as a private buyer could do anything they want on the land if they own the property.

“Going into auction, we have no idea who’s going to buy,” Drury said. “You’re giving up a guaranteed chance of conserving the land.”

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, in emails sent to Conservation Commission members, said the city cannot pull the auction now that it has been publicized, but Drury and other commission members objected to it.

“It seems the mayor could withdraw the property from the auction,” Drury said as he showed examples of other properties pulled from auction. “I haven’t found anything that said it couldn’t go up at a later time if it’s withdrawn.”

Stephen Woodbridge, the most recent owner of the parcel, said the city is seeking $56,000 for “taxes, interest and attorney fees.” The auction listing has 87 Stone Ridge Lane assessed for $258,400 and the adjacent parcel for $49,900.

“It’s partially a matter of money. If we had more notice … we could find a conservation buyer,” said commission member Fletcher Harrington. “Money would certainly talk in this case.”

Woodbridge expressed a desire for the next owner of the land to continue the legacy of allowing the public to use the trails.

“When my grandfather purchased this property in 1950 … he always had the clear intention it’d be open to the public,” Woodbridge said. “To snip it off at the end so it can’t be accessed from one direction would really be quite defeating.”

Precinct 4 City Councilor John Bottomley said conserving land is “exactly the kind of thing the public has expressed” to the council and he will help in “any way” he can.

“This land would be very important to the public,” Bottomley said. “I would be highly supportive of a request to delay this.”

While drafting the letter, members of the commission emphasized public involvement in the process and securing recreational trails are their highest priorities.

“We need to delay this,” said commission member Christin McDonough, “to allow the community more time to engage in this conversation.”

“We’re more interested in the trail system that goes through the land,” Drury said. “That’s what’s more important to the residents of Greenfield as it relates to open space. We’re not necessarily asking to own both parcels, we just want to see what could be done.”

In drafting the letter, the Conservation Commission created a list of bullet points for topics and ideas members wanted to address in the letter, which they will hand deliver to the Mayor’s Office. The bullet points are as follows:

■“Withdraw two properties from auction in order to allow dialogue between the Conservation Commission, Recreation Department, City Council and the mayor to find a way to meet open space goals in the Open Space and Recreation Plan and Master Plan.

■The commission is confident solutions exist that have not been explored.

■Auction states the city may withdraw properties at any time, there is precedent for properties being withdrawn from auction, and there are no statutes known to the commission (that) would prevent the city from withdrawing the properties.

■Overview of current trail system on Rocky Mountain Ridge.

■Commission has received public comments in support of withdrawing the properties from auction to preserve them as open space.”

With the drafting of topics they wish to address, the Conservation Commission approved a motion to draft the letter to the mayor and to publish a My Turn column in the Greenfield Recorder.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.




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