Agreement Would Protect 66 Acres in Medfield, MA

Medfield, Massachusetts, 2/1/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, and Medfield town officials have announced an opportunity to permanently protect approximately 66 contiguous acres of wooded uplands, wetlands, and fields located on School and North Streets in Medfield. The land, which is currently owned by the Cronin and McCombs families, provides protection for one of the Town’s drinking water wells and offers an outstanding trail network that is already used by the public for hiking, cross country skiing, and horseback riding. If purchased, a small portion of the property will also be reserved for a practice field.

Working on behalf of the Town of Medfield, The Trust for Public Land has negotiated an agreement to purchase approximately 34 acres of the 44-acre Cronin property for $3.0 million, and to permanently protect the remaining ten acres from further subdivision and residential development with a Conservation Restriction that will be donated by the Cronin family. TPL also anticipates that the McCombs family will donate a 22-acre Conservation Restriction over their property, which is adjacent to the Cronin land. The McCombs family gift is contingent upon the acquisition and permanent protection of the Cronin land by the Town of Medfield.

The 34-acre Cronin land is suitable for a minimum of 15 to 23 residential house lots and has been independently appraised at $3,170,000 and $3,175,000 by two Massachusetts-certified appraisers. The Cronin family has agreed to sell the land to the Town for $3.0 million, which is less than its appraised fair market value. Because the land helps to protect a drinking water well on the former Medfield State Hospital site that is soon to become part of the Medfield’s public drinking water system, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has awarded the Town a $500,000 drinking water grant, leaving a balance of $2.5 million for the Town of Medfield. The purchase requires approval via Town Meeting and debt exclusion votes.

According to Nellie Aikenhead, Senior Project Manager at The Trust for Public Land, “This purchase is important to Medfield from many perspectives. First and foremost, it will help the Town to permanently protect one of its drinking water wells. In addition, the land contains an existing network of walking trails and a portion of the property will be reserved for a future playing field, which will help to relieve the pressure on Medfield’s existing fields. Finally, due to the donation of approximately 32 acres and the $500,000 state grant, the Town’s financial leverage is significant.”

Dave LaFreniere, a local resident and president of Friends of Medfield Forest and Trails, said, “I hope that citizens recognize the comparatively small cost to protect these parcels of land as a sound investment, and vote accordingly. With the large expenditures our town faces related to the pressures of development and growth, we can’t afford not to preserve some of our remaining open space. Funding the protection of the Cronin and McCombs properties will simultaneously preserve natural and historical aspects of the Town, protect our valuable water supply, and help slow the need for additional capital expenditures related to growth.”

In order to allow the Town to meet the state drinking water grant deadline, which requires that the land be purchased prior to June 30, 2008, the debt-exclusion question will be brought to voters at the regular March 31, 2008 election, in advance of Town Meeting. Town Meeting approval will be subsequently sought at the Annual Town Meeting on April 28, 2008. Provided that the funding is approved, the Town will purchase the Cronin land and accept the Conservation Restriction by the end of June.

TPL’s Nellie Aikenhead expressed appreciation to the Cronins and McCombs’.”These two long-time Medfield families have provided the Town with an exceptional opportunity to acquire valuable property that helps to protect the public water supply and preserve a scenic and historic landscape at the gateway to Medfield center. Their generosity, as well as the foresight of Town officials, has enabled us to bring this purchase to the residents of Medfield.”