FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Jeffrey Bagg, City Planner
(413) 529-1406, firstname.lastname@example.org
EASTHAMPTON WINS PARC GRANT TO BUY 12.4 ACRES ADJACENT TO MOUNT TOM
Close to acquisition; future trail access, parking area, and kiosk envisioned
Easthampton, MA, January 9, 2019 - The Mayor’s Office is thrilled to announce a $400,000 Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant towards the acquisition of 12.4 acres immediately adjacent to Mt. Tom.
“The PARC grant is the biggest piece of the puzzle needed for the City to acquire this property. By combining CPA funds with Kestrel’s financial investment and negotiations with the property owner, the City could leverage it against the $400,000 PARC request. None of this would have been possible without the forward thinking of the property owner Gary Campbell, who worked with Kestrel Land Trust to have an Option Agreement to give the City and its partners a year to acquire the funds”, said Mayor LaChapelle.
The PARC grant will be combined with $380,000 of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to allow for the purchase of the developable 12.4-acre parcel. A significant financial contribution from Pascommuck Conservation Trust, combined with a DCR Conservation Partnership Grant and a Beverage Foundation grant coordinated by Kestrel Land Trust will preserve the remaining 10.4 acres. The total open space will be 23 acres with parking and access off of East Street. The property is adjacent to Mt. Tom and contains the existing eastern trailhead of the popular New England Scenic Trail.
“The Community Preservation Act overwhelming supported the request for funds to match the PARC grant application. This is such an important property and is a target area for preservation in both the Open Space Plan and Master Plan,” said City Councilor and CPA Chair Dan Rist.
The project will preserve two adjacent properties to create a park that will serve as the city’s first secure public access to Mount Tom. Long-term plans for the new park include parking on East Street, a universally accessible trail leading to a scenic lookout, a family-friendly loop trail around the Little Mountain Knob, and a trailhead for the National Scenic Trail that also connects with 22 miles of trails on the State Reservation.
“With the PARC grant secured to acquire the property, it will enable the City to prepare an application for the initial round of the Mass Trails grant program. Those grant funds could be used to hire a consultant to begin design and engineering for a parking area and an accessible trail”, said City Planner Jeff Bagg.
The Planning Department is planning a public meeting in January to gather input on the potential trail access options for the site in preparation for the Mass Trails Grant application.
The area along East Street is adjacent to Mt. Tom State Reservation and has long been identified as a high priority for preservation. The City and Pascommuck Conservation Trust first identified the target parcel as a high priority 17 years ago. In the 2008 Master Plan, the area along East Street was noted as potentially connecting Department of Conservation lands to the City and making these areas more easily available to the public. The 2013 Open Space Plan identified the East Street area adjacent to Mt. Tom as a Priority Protection Area and set up strategies to create partnerships to acquire and protect developable properties. In April 2018 the owner secured a Preliminary Plan approval for a nine-lot subdivision. Efforts during this time by the Kestrel Land Trust to secure an Option Agreement were critical to give the City and its partners time to pursue CPA and state grant funds to purchase the property for preservation.
The City of Easthampton has demonstrated success in combining PARC funds with CPA and other funds to acquire and create active and passive recreation opportunities. The acquisition of this land will implement the City’s multi-pronged plan to preserve outlying areas while at the same time encouraging and supporting development in more appropriate neighborhoods. This is directly in line with the State’s Sustainable Development Principles which seek to balance the preservation of key areas with supporting economic development and increasing housing in other areas.