On December 5, 2012 Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Richard K. Sullivan, Jr. presented a facsimile check for a $400,000 Land Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant to help with the permanent protection of the 108-acre Walker-Cox properties on Chicopee Row. Groton Conservation Commissioners Bruce Easom and Marshall Giguere welcomed the good news that will allow this project to move forward. Groton is one of 13 communities in the Commonwealth to receive a LAND grant.
Google Map and Groton’s Assessor’s Map of the Walker (left) and Cox properties
Easom wrote in an e-mail explaining the land purchase, “The award is to help the Town of Groton cover the combined $716,000 purchase price for two parcels on the north side of Chicopee Row near the Williams Barn. One parcel is about 50 acres and is owned by Susan Walker. The other is about 60 acres (after a 5-acre cut-out that includes the existing house and barn) owned by Marjorie Cox. The parcels are wooded and contain a number of vernal pools and other wetlands. They are both within Natural Heritageâ€™s BioMap 2 Core Habitat and a portion is within DEP Zone II of the Groton Water Departmentâ€™s Unkety Brook well site. These parcels were considered as a possible site for the new High School before the Town settled on the Casella land. The parcels connect together a number of nearby conservation parcels to form a large conservation tract in north-central Groton.
The habitat, connectivity, well protection and wetland resources helped the parcels score high in the Division of Conservation Services (DCS) ranking system. DCS received 28 applications this fiscal year but could only funded 13. Our Walker and Cox properties application came in eighth. Special thanks go to Susan Walker and Marjorie Cox who have been extraordinarily patient while our funding application made its way through the DCS selection process. Barbara Ganem did a remarkable job of writing the application. Governor Patrick and Secretary Sullivan remain committed to the preservation of the Commonwealthâ€™s open space even as budgets tighten. I think that this is a good time to be acquiring open space. Land prices are reasonable and competition from developers is down.
The $400,000 DCS grant is a reimbursement. The Town must first negotiate and sign an agreement with DCS, purchase the land for $716,000 using the Townâ€™s own funds and then get reimbursed $400,000 from DCS. The source of the $716,000 will be the Conservation Fund which currently has a balance of about $740,000. The reimbursement will be deposited into the Conservation Fund leaving a balance in the fund of about $410,000 after acquisition incidentals such as title insurance, recording fees and the Towns legal costs are paid. The Conservation Commission has submitted a preliminary Community Preservation Act application for FY2014 for $150,000 to begin the multi-year process of building the Conservation Fund back up to the desired balance range of $750,000 to $1,000,000.”