Northampton lands $250K grant to help restore pond at former golf course

  • The former Pine Grove Golf Course in Northampton. file photo

Published: 12/9/2022 1:52:41 PM
Modified: 12/9/2022 1:52:21 PM

NORTHAMPTON — An ongoing effort to rehabilitate the former Pine Grove Golf Course into a recreational area and wildlife space has taken a key step forward thanks to a $250,000 state grant that the city intends to use to help restore the Nashawannuck Brook that runs through the area.

The city acquired the 100-acre golf course on Old Wilson Road in 2020 from owner Gil Verrillo for $650,000.

“Golf courses are sort of notorious for environmental damage,” said Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra regarding the project. “To be able to take this land back and have it be rehabilitated for open space, for recreation, for wildlife, to protecting the wetlands, it’s really [important.]”

The money comes from the Division of Ecological Restoration, part of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game.

The city is performing the restoration project together with Mass Audubon, which holds the conservation restriction for the site and has provided the city with feedback regarding restoration activities and additional plans, according to Sarah LaValley, the assistant director of planning and sustainability for the city.

“They [Mass Audubon] were experiencing some flooding in the brook downstream, and then they were looking at what was going upstream and what might be causing the flooding,” LaValley said. “And then they noticed that the flooding and problems that they were experiencing must be contributed to by the golf course.”

She explained that tile drains and catch basins installed on the course to prevent the course from getting too wet affected the downstream area of the brook, causing the flooding.

The city had previously received state grants from the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program and from the Community Preservation Act which allowed for initial restoration work.

“That initial funding was a critical first step that began the removal of drainage structures and starting to restore more natural drainage patterns,” said Sciarra. “It lets the water flow more freely, but also lets it disperse in a more natural way.”

The work period provided by the ecological restoration grant is expected to go through 2025, according to LaValley.

The grant is one of 24 ecological restoration grants awarded by the state, totaling a grand total of $12 million. Other grants in the western Massachusetts area include a $2 million grant for the Abbey Brook Restoration and Revitalization project in Chicopee, and $800,000 for the removal of the Church Manufacturing Company dam in Monson.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at

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