Northampton makes key land purchase in Saw Mill Hills Greenway

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 04-11-2023 12:07 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The city of Northampton has finalized an acquisition of 229 acres to add to its Saw Mill Hills Greenway, connecting two previously separated areas used for outdoor recreational activities.

The city completed the purchase on April 5 for a price of $690,000, according to Sarah LaValley, the assistant director of the city’s Planning & Sustainability office. Money for the purchase came from $300,000 appropriated from the city’s Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, and a $400,000 Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity Grant from the state.

“This is the biggest property the city has purchased in many years,” LaValley said. “This purchase allows for permanent preservation of the property, as well as for recreation.”

The purchased land, previously owned by Barbara Pomeroy, already has trails running through it, but members of the public wishing to use them could not do so without risking charges of trespassing. Now, travelers will be able to freely access the property, situated between two previously separated areas of the greenway that border along Sylvester Road in Florence.

The area also holds a conservation restriction held by the Kestrel Land Trust, ensuring that many natural aspects of the property will be preserved. The area is known to be home to some endangered species of birds, salamanders and plants who inhabit the area’s headwater streams and wetlands.

“The Pomeroy land is a keystone of the Saw Mill Hills, helping to knit the area together through its size, location, and trail connections,” said Mark Wamsley, conservation director at the Kestrel Land Trust, in a statement. “Kestrel’s ongoing relationship with Northampton has yielded wonderful results for the land and local residents, and we look forward to helping the city conserve and care for them long into the future.”

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The acquisition brings the total number of land in the Saw Mill Hills area that is city-owned to roughly 1,000 acres, out of the 2,200 acre area. The city acquired 20 acres in 2020, 80 acres in 2000 and 24 acres in 1995, along with other purchases and gifts over the years that have expanded the property.

The city had sought funds to acquire the property since last year, when it first applied for the state grant. The city approved the CPA funds for the project in February of last year, the single-largest amount of the $1.23 million appropriated for 11 different projects across the city.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.

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