Amherst accepts 5 acres near Atkins which will provide access to conservation land

  • The Amherst Town Council has accepted a new parcel of open space at 1194 West St., indicated on this map, that will include a small parking area open to the public, and which can be used for access to town conservation land and the Mount Holyoke Range. GOOGLE MAPS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2022 11:11:09 AM
Modified: 9/22/2022 11:10:31 AM

AMHERST — The Town Council has accepted a new parcel of open space that will include a small parking area open to the public, and which can be used for access to town conservation land and the Mount Holyoke Range.

Councilors on Monday voted unanimously to approve the Conservation Commission’s acceptance of the undeveloped land at 1194 West St., a bit over 5 acres, from Wayland developer Paul Cole.

The land, at the base of the range, was set aside as a permitted requirement of Cole’s seven-home cluster development across from Atkins Farms Country Market. Known as Vista Terrace, the project was developed by Apple Brook West LLC.

Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek said the new open space for the town comes from years of discussing the development with Cole, with the subdivision being subject to lawsuits from a neighbor who was concerned about its impacts on a nearby trout pond.

“The result of the project was that we got a gift of land, 5.39 acres,” Ziomek said.

For the town, the open space allows for a new access point to town conservation land and the Mount Holyoke Range. A small parking area is also being developed by Cole. That will be activated by the town once a new trail is constructed that will connect to the existing network. Permitting for the trail begins next year.

Ziomek said town officials saw a strategic opportunity to add parking, which is in high demand, noting that the Notch Visitors Center parking lot is often crowded, and a second parking lot on Bay Road, for the Sweet Alice Conservation Area, is also extensively used.

“Anything we can do to increase access there is a plus,” Ziomek said.

The lot will be small, likely only having six to seven spaces.

Ziomek said homeowners who are on Vista Terrace have been comfortable with the plans, and the parking is not expected to be an impact on them.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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