After more than 20 years of work by state and local conservationists, Town Meeting in Sharon voted to preserve over 320 acres of Rattlesnake Hill. At a special town meeting on November 4th, voters in Sharon chose to spend $7.5 million in CPA funds to assist in the purchase of this ecologically important tract of land. The state kicked in $2.5 million, for a total purchase price of $10 million, making this the 3rd largest CPA acquisition of open space by acreage. In terms of dollars, this is the 6th largest CPA open space purchase to date.
As development pressure continues to grow across Massachusetts, the accelerating loss of open space and agricultural land continues to be a concern for many communities. When the Community Preservation Act (CPA) was passed in Wayland back in 2001, many residents saw its potential value in helping to preserve their community’s unique agrarian heritage. And thanks to that foresight, the town was able to protect the rolling pastures and wooded hillsides of Mainstone Farm.
Open space preservation is a key component of the Community Preservation Act (CPA), and over 23,000 acres have been preserved with CPA funds since the Act was passed in 2000. Although many CPA open space projects have been completed independently by CPA cities and towns, some communities have found it helpful to partner with third party land protection organizations. One recent example is Bridgewater, which collaborated with The Trust for Public Land on a project to preserve Murray Farm in Bridgewater.
Larry and Sandra Pearson sold their 73-acre farm in March. It had been in Larry’s family since 1947 and he had lived there his entire life. Moving away was a heart-wrenching decision for Larry. As the story usually unfolds, owners of large properties need money from the sale of their land for retirement. The Pearson's had signed a purchase and sale agreement with a developer who planned on dividing the front of the property into 6-8 lots, demolishing the farmstead, cutting into the impressive 3,400 feet of historic roadside stonewalls for driveways and turning rolling pastures into sterile front lawns. But that is not how this story ended…
After passing CPA in the spring of 2009, the town of Seekonk did not waste any time putting their CPA dollars to good use. The town has appropriated CPA funds to place two Agricultural Preservation Restrictions (APRs) on sizable plots of farmland, and in doing so leveraged $888,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture.
CPA funds have helped to conserve the Historic Elmwood Farm in Hopkinton, protecting farmland for future agricultural use, preserving an historic stop on the Underground Railroad and opening up 81 acres of forestland to the public. A family farm for more than 200 years, Elmwood Farm is the original home of Food for the Needy, a local organization founded by Bill and Rose Abbot in the 1970’s. In 2002, Food for the Needy evolved into the Community Harvest Project (CHP), a volunteer farming operation dedicated to hunger relief in Worcester County.
At a special town meeting on January 11, 2011, Upton residents voted by a slim margin to approve the purchase of a CPA project that just weeks before appeared impossible – the purchase of a 60-acre portion of Sweetwilliam Farm. The story behind the protection of Sweetwilliam Farm is a tale of dedication and perseverance leading to eventual success. Do you have a fabulous project that is facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles? This project is proof that great projects with long odds can eventually move forward.
In January 2010, the Trust for Public Land, Windrush Farm Therapeutic Equitation, Inc. (WFTE) and the towns of North Andover and Boxford came together to protect the 195-acre Windrush Farm. The partners successfully raised the $3.5 million purchase price from North Andover CPA Funds, state and private grants, and a $1 million capital campaign.
This 78-acre property fronting on Cape Cod Bay was Massachusetts’ top preservation priority and ranked second on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s national priorities list in 2006 when it came on the market.
The CPA was adopted in Carver in April 2006 in large part to protect this property - 242-acres of agricultural land that was enrolled in the state’s Chapter .61A agricultural protection program. According to Bob Bentley, Chair of the Carver CPC, “Focusing on this project during the CPA campaign really helped get CPA passed in Carver.
In a three-part project, 293 acres of the 700-acre Common Pasture – a scenic and historic swath of agricultural land located on the border of Newburyport and neighboring Newbury – was preserved using CPA and other funds.
Measured by acres, this $3.8 million land purchase, split between the town and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is the largest open space acquisition on record in the Commonwealth using Community Preservation Act funds.