Recreation groups sign onto letters asking to pause land auction in Greenfield

  • 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: 9/20/2021 7:27:06 PM

GREENFIELD — At least two more groups have joined in the effort seeking to postpone Wednesday’s auction of 87 Stone Ridge Lane and an adjacent parcel, which abuts Rocky Mountain Park.

The New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) and the MassBike Connecticut River Valley Chapter have sent a letter to Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, requesting she withdraw the parcels from the auction scheduled for Wednesday at noon. This comes after the Conservation Commission met Friday evening to draft a letter to Wedegartner asking that she postpone the auction.

“These parcels have historically provided recreational access to the Rocky Mountain Conservation Area, and the private sale of these parcels would greatly jeopardize this access,” the letter from NEMBA and MassBike states. “This recreational area is a popular destination for Pioneer Valley NEMBA chapter members, MassBike Connecticut River Valley chapter members and the broader community.”

The letter states that NEMBA has a history of raising money to conserve land in the region.

“We are confident, given the opportunity, NEMBA, MassBike and our partners could help arrange sufficient funding to secure these parcels and ensure their conservation,” reads the letter, signed by Travis Counsell, executive director of NEMBA, and Kristen Sykes, president of the MassBike Connecticut River Valley Chapter.

As of Monday afternoon, the city was awaiting legal advice as to whether Wedegartner could, in fact, cancel or postponed the auction.

At a Conservation Commission meeting last week, 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.

The land, which has been privately owned for decades, contains a network of trails that previous owners have left open to the public.

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.

During Friday’s meeting, Woodbridge expressed a desire for the next owner of the land to continue the tradition of allowing the public to use the trails.

Wedegartner said on Monday she had received both letters, as well as other emails, regarding the auction. Having reviewed the Conservation Commission’s letter, she said she shares the commission’s interest in the land.

“I appreciate that greatly, and I know what they’re talking about,” she said. “And I’m interested in it as a citizen.”

Wedegartner said if she finds she has the legal authority to do so, she will “happily postpone” the auction so the Conservation Commission can further explore options for the property’s future.

However, as of Monday afternoon, Wedegartner had questions to clarify before making such a decision.

“I just want to make sure I do have the authority to call this off,” she said.

Wedegartner said her understanding of the law — with respect to a tax-title taking — is that the city only has limited ownership of the property. Additionally, it wasn’t “100% clear” to her if the city could sell the property any other way than by auction.

“I don’t want to make a decision that is incorrectly done,” Wedegartner said. “I’ll take my guidance from (the lawyer).”

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




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