Hadley accepts gift of 5-plus acres near Conn. River




Staff Writer

Published: 07-01-2024 10:07 AM

HADLEY — A small undeveloped and land-locked parcel along the Connecticut River off Hockanum Road is being accepted as a gift to the town by the Select Board, even though no formal policy is in place for receiving such properties.

With support from the Conservation Commission, the Select Board on Wednesday unanimously approved the donation of the 5.35-acre site, which has a hiking trail through it, but also is often underwater and has easy access from town roads.

Surrounded by state-owned, tax-exempt land, the property, in an area of town known as Fort Meadow, will be placed under the Conservation Commission’s “care, custody and control.”

Tax Collector Susan Glowatsky told the Select Board the land, valued at $9,000, is owned by Mary Krason of Easthampton, who bought the land last year for $1, according to land records. 

Select Board member Randy Izer said he is concerned about the responsibilities the town might have in acquiring the property, even as a gift, as well as better understanding what the land is, which can’t happen without a formal survey.

“The state owns everything around it, the state ought to own this, not the town,” Izer said.

Izer, who works professionally as a land surveyor, acknowledged that while he would like the land to be surveyed, that can get costly for the landowner, between $5,000 and $10,000.

Select Board Chairwoman Molly Keegan agreed that some sort of gift of land policy needs to be adopted, along with various requirements to protect the town, such as the survey.

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“I’m definitely in favor of having a policy and the checklist,” Keegan said.

Glowatsky, though, said if a survey of the property is required, the landowner probably wouldn’t pay the fees associated with that, and possibly the $100 or so a year in property taxes. This could lead the land to going into tax title and cost the town even more money through a foreclosure process that includes legal fees and advertisements.

Select Board member David J. Fill II said even if a gift of land policy is adopted, the board could have the ability to waive a land survey, giving flexibility to those who want to donate land for conservation purposes.

Conservation Commission members have said the land could be used as a bargaining chip with the state should state officials want to absorb it into the larger property holdings along the river.

In other business, the board agreed to create a new human resources director/ project coordinator position, eliminating the idea of having the position also be an assistant town administrator.

Keegan explained that the Collins Center for Public Management suggested adding that to the job description, but concerns had developed about the responsibilities.

“It wasn’t intended for this to be above many of the other department heads as it played out when it went back to the Collins Center,” Keegan said.

The job, when advertised, is expected to have a payscale between $70,000 and $80,000.

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