Agreement to Protect Half-Mile Hill (MA)

NORTH ANDOVER, Massachusetts, 3/25/02: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, announced today that it has signed an agreement to purchase approximately 35 acres, known as Half-Mile Hill, on the shores of Lake Cochichewick. Under the terms of the agreement, TPL has until July 15 to purchase the property for $2.65 million from its current owner, the Mary Charles Trust. TPL began negotiating to purchase the property last fall, at the request of North Andover’s Community Preservation Committee and Board of Selectmen.

“The protection of this magnificent property will truly help to preserve the rural character of the Town,” said Rosemary Smedile, chair of the North Andover Board of Selectmen. “Additionally, conserving properties on Lake Cochichewick, North Andover’s sole source of drinking water, is a high priority. No new taxes will be required to purchase Half-Mile Hill, because the Town’s Community Preservation Act funds can be used for the acquisition. In addition, we have also received a grant of $250,000 from the State’s Self-Help Program, which will help reduce the cost of the purchase.”

“We would like to thank the landowner, Mary Charles Trust, for giving us the opportunity to protect this property on Half-Mile Hill,” stated TPL project manager Nellie Aikenhead. “The land is a key parcel in a very scenic area of North Andover, and its protection will also help to ensure the permanent protection of the Town’s drinking water supply.”

On May 13, residents will vote at Town Meeting on whether to approve the use of the Town’s Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the purchase. The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Division of Conservation Services, has already awarded a Self-Help Grant of $250,000 to the project. To further reduce the cost of the acquisition to the Town, local supporters and TPL are launching a campaign to raise $150,000. If the campaign is successful, the Town’s purchase price would be reduced to $2.25 million.

“The Community Preservation Committee has worked hard with TPL on protecting Half-Mile Hill, one of the most visible and environmentally sensitive parcels along the shores of Lake Cochichewick. Coupled with the acquisition of Carter Hill a year ago, North Andover will have used CPA funds to preserve over 60 acres of hilly undeveloped land within our watershed within two years,” said Felipe Schwarz, a member of the North Andover Community Preservation Committee. “The Community Preservation Act has proven to be a very effective tools for land conservation in North Andover.”

Located on Osgood Street and offering spectacular views of the lake and surrounding hills, the property includes frontage on Lake Cochichewick, which is North Andover’s sole source of drinking water and the largest body of fresh water in Essex County. In addition, the land is at the center of a 500-acre corridor of protected open space that includes town-owned Osgood Hill, and Weir Hill Reservation, owned by the Trustees of Reservations. Protecting Half-Mile Hill will help to fulfill North Andover’s long-term commitment to creating large tracts of open space for hiking, sledding, and other low-impact recreational activities.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including nearly 100,000 acres in New England. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.