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Northampton to buy conservation restriction on land near Parsons Brook

NORTHAMPTON — The city is moving to protect 19-plus acres near Parsons Brook in the southwest portion of the city.

The City Council last week agreed to buy a conservation restriction from Daniel and Penelope Burke for $9,500, a move that will permanently preserve the land from development. The land is right next to land with existing conservation restrictions and is home to numerous wildlife.

“I can’t tell you the wildlife that is on that 19 acres,” Ward 6 City Councilor Marianne L. LaBarge said. “I’ve never seen so many deer in my life. It’s just absolutely beautiful.”

She called the price to the city a bargain, because the property could be developed into homes should the land ever be sold.

“This family is losing money but they don’t care about that,” she said. “They want to keep that restriction on there so it will never be developed.”

Planning Director Wayne Feiden said the land will join two existing conservation restrictions along Parsons Brook, creating a continuous piece of protected land about a half-mile long.

He said the land is not in Parsons Brook, but would help protect wildlife that moves along it to access the brook.

The purchase will be made using CPA funds, donations and grants.

Ward 3 City Councilor Owen Freeman-Daniels, who voted to support the proposal, questioned what the benefit to the general public is given that the land will be inaccessible to the public and will require a small amount of maintenance on the city’s part.

Several councilors said spending city funds to conserve land is not just for the public to enjoy. Such deals are also needed to protect water, wildlife, air, farmland and more. They can also help the city protect certain areas from development.

“I see a big benefit for doing this,” said Ward 2 City Council Paul D. Spector.

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