Town to Spend $ 1.1 Million to Open Moraine Farm Land | News

BEVERLY – The city plans to spend $ 1.1 million in community preservation funds to open 11 acres of land on three separate plots at Moraine Farm for public use.

The town’s community preservation committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the grant, which would be the biggest investment the town has made to date using community preservation money.

The deal, yet to be approved by city council, sees the city pay $ 1.1 million to the reservations trustees, the non-profit organization that owns the land. In return, the Trustees agreed to several benefits for the residents of Beverly, including the creation of a community garden, the extension of walking and running trails, the reopening of an entrance to the property on Conant Street, the providing 10 dedicated parking spaces to residents of Beverly; and holding at least two community events per year on the property.

“This is probably a unique opportunity for us,” said Derek Beckwith, committee member.

The city’s $ 1.1 million will allow the trustees to complete a larger project – the creation of a 145-acre reserve at Moraine Farm that would open much of the historic property to the public for the first time.

The Trustees launched a fundraising campaign to raise $ 4.1 million to purchase 66 acres from Project Adventure, which the Trustees would combine with the 79 acres they already own to unify the property and create a large reservation. Trustees said they had “reached the capacity” of their donors and therefore asked the City of Beverly to invest $ 1.1 million “to close the fundraising campaign.”

With the $ 1.1 million, the city purchases a “conservation restriction” on the three plots, which means they cannot be developed. The Trustees would retain ownership of the plots but would allow public access and the specific benefits for Beverly residents that will be set out in the retention restriction. Administrators would not have been eligible for community preservation funds if they had asked directly for help with the purchase of Project Adventure, officials said.

Mayor Mike Cahill said the three plots are the only lands owned by the Moraine Farm trustees that are not subject to a conservation restriction. He said the organization could have sold the plots to developers to help fund their purchase of the Adventure Project land. By acquiring the conservation restriction, the city is ensuring that the land will remain open space and that residents will have access to it, he said.

Two of the plots frontage along Cabot Street in North Beverly near Beverly Airport, while the other is on Conant Street next to Hannah Village. Cahill said a historic entrance to the property on Conant Street, closed for years, will be open, allowing people to walk from that end of the property to the town’s property, Phillips Preserve, near the lake. Wenham.

“When you go out and browse the property, you really see the value of the whole property,” Cahill said. “This whole network of trails is magnificent, breathtaking. “

David Santomenna, associate director of land conservation for the trustees, said the deal with Beverly will allow the trustees to reach a deal to purchase the land for the adventure project by December 31. He said the purchase would be the culmination of a decades-long effort by the trustees to reunite the property and open it up for more public use.

“The whole property has truly been a private enclave forever,” he said.

The Moraine Farm has been divided into plots owned by different families and organizations since its design by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1880. The 66 acres to be acquired by the Trustees include a frontage along Lake Wenham, the main house of the estate. , a tea garden and a terrace.

Project Adventure will remain on the site as a tenant of the Trustees and will continue to operate its education programs, including the use of the outdoor adventure course on the property.

Editor-in-Chief Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

Editor-in-Chief Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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