Kestrel Land Trust updates Selectboard on Whately Center Woods Project

  • Part of the Dauchy property, being referred to by the Kestrel Land Trust as the Whately Center Woods Project, in Whately. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MARK WAMSLEY

  • A topographical map of the Dauchy property, being referred to by the Kestrel Land Trust as the Whately Center Woods Project, in Whately. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE/MARK WAMSLEY

Staff Writer
Published: 1/27/2020 4:58:05 PM
Modified: 1/27/2020 4:57:48 PM

WHATELY — At the mercy of state grant requirements, Kestrel Land Trust has until June 30 to acquire 120 acres encompassed by Westbrook, Chestnut Plain and Haydenville roads near Whately’s center, and until July 15 to submit materials to the state for reimbursement.

The Amherst-based land conservation organization was awarded an $85,000 Conservation Partnership Grant from the Division of Conservation Services at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to assist in purchasing the property owned by husband and wife Charles Dauchy and Judith Weinthaler, former Western Massachusetts residents now living in Hopkinton.

Mark Wamsley, conservation and stewardship manager at the land trust, attended a Whately Community Preservation Committee meeting on Wednesday, when about a dozen residents expressed their cautious optimism about the endeavor dubbed the Whately Center Woods Project. The idea is to place a conservation restriction on the land prohibiting infrastructure development. The state grant, which must be matched by the town, requires public access.

Sitting in Whately Town Hall’s Virginia C. Allis Community Room, Wamsley explained the property was appraised for $260,000 and the plan is for Kestrel Land Trust to pay $170,000 in a bargain sale.

“We were interested in the project. Several people involved with Kestrel are Whately residents. They sang the praises of this property,” Wamsley said, adding that the land has a nice trail network. “The Dauchys have managed the forest there pretty amazingly.”

Wamsley has previously stated the land is used by all types of outdoors enthusiasts.

He said there is a flat area of land immediately to the left as someone drives onto the property from Chestnut Plain Road and the idea is to develop it into a small parking area big enough for three or four vehicles. Jonathan Edwards, on the committee as a Whately Recreation Commission member, asked if this parking area would be plowed in the wintertime and Wamsley said he was not sure, as this would introduce an added cost. He also mentioned that parking area would be unpaved, consisting of dirt and crushed stone.

Resident George Reynolds asked who would enforce rules and restrictions on the land. Wamsley replied that Kestrel employs a stewardship coordinator who conducts maintenance on Kestrel’s properties. There will also be a fundraiser to offset costs.

Whately Conservation Commission member Montserrat Archbald told everyone in Wednesday’s meeting that the land is worth protecting. She said it has hills, swamps and lots of animals (including some rare species), and it great for recreation like cross-country skiing.

Community Preservation Committee Chair Alan Sanderson Jr. said his committee will meet in early March to vote on whether to put an article on April’s Annual Town Meeting warrant asking if voters are willing to use $85,000 in Community Preservation Act money to match the state grant.

Additionally, Wamsley said he is helping to plan a public presentation regarding the project and is in search of a venue for the event.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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