Franklin Celebrates Acquisition of 200 Acres of Open Space for Town
The purchase of Schmidt’s Farm officially brought the total open space acquired in the past year by Franklin’s Community Preservation Act Funds to 200 acres. The town celebrated this milestone on October 27th.
By J.D. O’Gara
On Friday, October 27th, the town of Franklin celebrated its acquisition of the over 200 acres of open space, through Community Preservation Act funds, at the site of the most recent 115-acre purchase, Schmidt’s Farm, a parcel on Prospect Street which, with the additional purchase of 15 acres of abutting acreage from the Dalzell family, totals 130 acres. This land is not yet ready to be open to the public, with extensive work needed to make it accessible and repair the barn on the property, but Town governance expressed optimism at its future value as a treasured recreation space. Earlier this year, the town also purchased the 70-acre Maple Hill property, closer to the center of town between Lincoln and Maple Streets, with CPA funds.
Town Council Chair Tom Mercer opened the event, welcoming Town Counsellor Melanie Hamblen, who said she was thrilled CPA funds were used “again to protect and preserve this irreplaceable farmland for generations to come. And I am proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish since the CPA adoption and generate additional open space, connecting our nature trails for wildlife and residents alike. I look forward to seeing the vision for these parcels come to fruition.”
Town Administrator Jamie Hellen, followed, saying, “This is pretty much the greatest day a town administrator can haveI think I speak for elected officials, it really doesn’t get better than this. I’m sure we can take a lot of credit, but all of you voted for this, and a couple years later we’re seeing that return on investment. This caps three ribbon cuttings we’ve had this year for the first slate of (CPA) projects.” Hellen talked about how the CPA was created because communities struggled to pay for these projects, and he thanked members of the Community Preservation Committee in addition to town voters.
Hellen explained a bit about some of the work to be done at Schmidt’s Farm, noting the house in front would be demolished, but that the barn has potential to be used as an educational tool, once it undergoes extensive repair. The parcel, as well as the Maple Hill parcel, needs to have a management program in place per CPA requirements, and the town will work with Metacomet and other stakeholders to establish one. While about half of the land will be preserved for hiking trails, the town will investigate agricultural use of the other portions, considering the site for an additional community garden.