Agreement to Protect Libby Farm (MA)

STOUGHTON, Massachusetts, 11/14/02: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, announced today that it has negotiated an agreement to purchase approximately 83 acres of scenic open space on behalf of the Town of Stoughton. Known as Libby Farm, the land is located on West Street near the Easton town line. It is the town’s highest priority for protection because of its location in a corridor of existing conservation land supports rare wildlife species.

“We are delighted to announce our agreement to purchase the Libby Farm,” said Nellie Aikenhead, project manager for TPL. “We are grateful to the Libby family for agreeing to a conservation sale of this spectacular land.”

“Libby Farm is essential to the protection and expansion of existing conservation land,” said Stoughton’s Open Space Committee chair Glenn Flierl. “Development in this area would be more economically draining on town resources than the purchase of the Farm, and would greatly diminish the environmental and recreational value of the Stoughton Memorial Conservation Lands. The Libby property has beautiful fields and woods, and the Open Space Committee is doing our best to preserve and protect it.”

At the request of the Stoughton Open Space Committee and the Board of Selectmen, TPL began active negotiations with the Libby family in September. Under the terms of the agreement announced today, the Town has the opportunity to purchase roughly 83 acres of open space for $1.665 million. The purchase does not include the existing house on the property, which will be retained by the family and sold privately.

The project has already received a $500,000 federal award from the Land and Water Conservation Fund through the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) and a $15,000 grant from the Boston-based William P. Wharton Trust, which would reduce the Town’s likely portion to $1.15 million. Additional private fundraising has the potential to further reduce the Town’s cost. Town Meeting will consider the purchase on January 6, 2003, and will discuss the possibility of using a portion of the land for recreation fields.

A mix of scenic meadows and woodlands, Libby Farm is surrounded on three sides by the 493-acre Stoughton Memorial Conservation Lands. It also lies directly across the street from the roughly 50-acre Edward F. McNamara Farm, which the Town purchased for permanent conservation in 2000. The property includes wetlands, vernal pools, and rocky outcrops, and is crossed by popular hiking trails and old cart roads.

“The grant offered by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs comes from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program and is subject to Congressional appropriation,” explained Joel Lerner, director of the Division of Conservation Services at EOEA. “The funds are administered by the state and were used to purchase the Stoughton Memorial Conservation Lands in 1972, so it is fitting that some 30 years later we are able to help add another significant parcel to Stoughton’s conservation and recreation holdings. State and federal investments have enabled the town to preserve over 623 acres of land.”

Senator Jo Ann Sprague (R-Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth) said, “I am very pleased that Governor Swift and Secretary Durand have recognized Stoughton’s dedication to open space and have rewarded it with this grant. I would also like to applaud the people of Stoughton for considering the protection of this valuable land.”

“The chance to purchase this land presents a three-fold opportunity to protect this environmentally-sensitive parcel from development, preserve much needed open space in the Town of Stoughton, and demonstrate our statewide commitment to land conservation,” said Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-Suffolk and Norfolk).

“This grant will certainly help Stoughton with the purchase of the Libby property, and I hope it will allow the town to add another jewel to its ”greenbelt’,” said Representative Louis Kafka (D-Sharon, Stoughton).

“The possible addition of this site to existing conservation properties will be a great compliment in the town’s pursuit to preserve their open space,” said Representative William Galvin (D-Stoughton, Randolph, Avon, Canton).

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 8,000 acres in Massachusetts.