Easthampton lands $400k state grant: Money will fund new park, trail along Mount Tom range 

  • Easthampton plans to acquire this land to expand access to Mount Tom State Park. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/10/2019 12:03:36 AM

EASTHAMPTON — Easthampton moved one step closer to building a new park with a scenic view from Mount Tom after landing a $400,000 state grant.

The grant was announced Wednesday by Gov. Charlie Baker and was among $6.4 million in grants awarded to 19 communities throughout the state as part of the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations of Communities (PARC) program.

The portion awarded to Easthampton will be used to purchase a 12-acre property on East Street owned by Gary Campbell with the goal of providing public access to the New England Scenic Trail. The city’s plans call for a publicly accessible trail leading to a scenic view from the slopes of Mount Tom.

“To be able to let the city use the trailhead is just terrific,” said Campbell, of Southampton, on Wednesday. “The views will be spectacular.”

Campbell said he and his wife, Sandy, used to take snowmobiles up the trail 30 years ago, and he said he is happy Easthampton was awarded the grant.

City Planner Jeffrey Bagg said the state funding was critical for the city to acquire the 12.4-acre parcel at 96 East St.

“We are aiming to close on the property in the summer,” Bagg said. Only a driveway with a big hill remains on the property after a single-family home was razed.

The city worked in partnership with the Kestrel Land Trust and Campbell to secure an option agreement for the property that would allow the city one year to acquire the necessary funding to purchase it, no later than September 2019.

“None of this would have been possible without the forward thinking of Gary Campbell,” said Mayor Nicole LaChapelle in a statement.

In April, Campbell secured preliminary approval for a nine-lot subdivision, but the Kestrel Land Trust helped secure the option agreement.

The PARC grant will be combined with $380,000 of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the purchase of Campbell’s property, according to Bagg.

The East Street property is one of two that are part of the city’s overall Mount Tom Trailhead Partnership Project that will span a total of 23 acres.

An adjacent 10.4-acre property, which the Kestrel Land Trust is working to acquire with the Pascommuck Conservation Trust and other grant funding sources, is also expected to be part of the future park.

Campbell also owns this property and Bagg said that, ideally, both parcels would be purchased at the same time. Bagg said further grant funding is necessary for the project to happen.

Once the land is acquired, he said the city will apply for Mass Trail grants that would be used to hire a consultant to begin the design and engineering for a parking area and trail.

The funding would go toward designing a parking lot on East Street, a handicapped-accessible trail leading to a scenic lookout, a family-friendly loop around the Little Mountain Knob, and a trailhead that connects with 22 miles at the Mount Tom State Reservation.

“From the parking area, there will be a handicapped- accessible trail to a vantage point on the property that could be used by a wide range of people,” Bagg said.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com

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