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CPA funds sought for purchase of Mount Marcy land

Date: 11/12/2015

WILBRAHAM – The Minnechaug Land Trust plans to submit an application for Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the purchase of land on Mount Marcy – one of the town’s highest peaks.

Minnechaug Land Trust Board of Trustees Vice President Steve Lawson said the trust is submitting a proposal to use $175,000 of CPA money to purchase the approximately 47-acre parcel.

The total cost of the land is $400,000 and the trust is also applying for a Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant through the state, which could pay for two-thirds of the total price if accepted.

He added the land meets the criteria that the trust is looking for, including its large size, aesthetical pleasing views, closeness to other preserved properties in town, and its ability to act as a corridor for wildlife.  

“We’re trying to selectively preserve properties in town where we think it makes sense,” he noted. “A lot of people have the opinion that there’s a lot of open space in Wilbraham, but what they forget is that a lot of it is privately owned.”

Lawson said the acreage on Mount Marcy is located on Glendale Road about halfway between Monson and Boston roads.

He added if the land were purchased, the property would include a parking area for six to eight vehicles, hiking trails, as well as picnic area.

“We’re planning on having the trail have switchbacks, so it’s an easier walk up to the top,” he said. “If you were go directly from the parking area to the top in a straight line it’s probably a mile and a half, but with the switchbacks were anticipating that it will be a couple miles round trip.”

Lawson said he’s hopeful the Community Preservation Committee would recommend the project for funding and the trust is trying to make other town departments and committees aware of it, including the Planning Board, Recreation Department, and Conservation Commission.

“If they have more knowledge about the property and we had more people behind it, we’d have a better success this year,” he added.

The trust’s procedure of applying for CPC and LAND money is line with the funding methods of past projects, including the 150-acre Rice Nature Preserve purchased in the early 2000s and the 29-acre MacDonald Nature Preserve acquired in 2009 on Washington Road, Lawson said.

“That was the reason why the town passed the CPA – it was to raise funds to create the Rice Nature Preserve and the land trust was instrumental in making that happen,” he noted.

The Minnechaug Land Trust’s long-term goal is to attempt to connect the various parcels purchased during past years.

“[At] Mount Marcy there’s a ridgeline trail that from what I’ve heard historically it used to go all the way from Boston Road down past the Connecticut line along the ridge line and through development through the years parts of that have been broken up,” he added. “We’re hoping that maybe this Mount Marcy could be a way that we can help reconstruct some of that … If we could get up closer to Monson Road where it goes through we could be able to hook it up to the Rice property.”

Lawson said residents have expressed interest in natural preservation areas and he believes these locations define the town.

“People appreciate being able to have recreational activities that are different than just going out to ball fields – being able to go out in the woods and see a deer … It’s a thrill to be able to see things like that and it’s also you can do in all seasons,” he added. “I think that people value that very highly and that’s been expressed at Town Meetings and through votes throughout the years. The Vision Task Force met a couple of years ago and that’s something that came through loud and clear with people in the town.”