Agreement Would Protect Farm in Dunstable, MA

Dunstable, Massachusetts, 8/29/06: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, and Dunstable town officials announced today that TPL has reached an agreement to purchase 159 acres of land on Mill Street from Joan Ferrari. The agreement gives TPL six months to raise the $2.5 million purchase price from a variety of public and private sources in order to permanently conserve the land. TPL is working with the Town and the Dunstable Rural Land Trust to raise the purchase price. If successful, the Town of Dunstable will own this important landscape and it will never be developed.

The 159-acre Ferrari property is located in north central Dunstable, just west of Salmon Brook. The land is a mix of open and wooded land that includes much of Flatrock Hill, the fourth-highest hill in Dunstable. Existing trails cross the property and provide connections to other conserved land.

The land is a key parcel for conservation because it connects five protected areas owned by the Dunstable Conservation Commission and the Dunstable Rural Land Trust (DRLT) totaling 275 acres. If conserved, the Ferrari property will create a nearly 425-acre block of contiguous open space. Nearby protected open space includes the DRLT Wildlife Refuge (330 acres), the Kennedy Farm APR (80 acres) and the Town Well Field (65 acres).

Kevin Welch, a member of the Board of Selectman, said, “We are excited to have this wonderful opportunity to add to our open space inventory. The town is trying to maintain the rural persona in spite of constant pressure from development. We are very thankful for TPL’s advocacy in this endeavor. The major challenge now is to address novel ways to finance the project.”

Chris LaPointe, Project Manager for TPL, said, “The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have reached agreement with the Ferraris to create an opportunity for conservation. This land provides a tangible link to Dunstable’s history, and is a keystone in the growing conservation area around Salmon Brook. We believe that the project offers a tremendous opportunity to use the Town’s funds to leverage outside sources of money for a conservation and historic preservation project of real significance.”

Developers had been seeking permits to build 150 new homes on the Ferrari Farm property. Although a recent project did not come to fruition, the land continues to be a highly appealing development opportunity for housing developers.

The existing farm house, which is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, was likely built by Caleb Read and his wife Caty, who were married in 1805. One of their daughters, Sarah Read Roby, who was born in the house, became one of Dunstable’s major benefactors, endowing construction of the town hall and library, and establishing maintenance of the Town cemetery. As part of the land conservation project, the house and barn will be sold to private buyers.

Potential funding sources for the $2.5 million purchase price for the farm are local Community Preservation Act funds, a state Self Help Grant, and the private sale of the existing house and barn on approximately ten acres of land. Town officials are working with project supporters to develop a strong funding plan to bring to Town Meeting this fall. With the help of TPL, Dunstable applied for a $500,000 Self Help Grant through the Division of Conservation Services. Grant awards are likely to be made this fall before Town Meeting.

Leah Basbanes, Chair of the Dunstable Conservation Commission said, “The Conservation Commission is very pleased with the cooperative effort to pursue the preservation of this parcel. The Ferrari farm is a wonderful keystone piece that unifies several other large parcels of protected land. The town as a whole, present and future generations alike, will truly benefit from this joint effort, and that is a very satisfying feeling. I personally would like to thank The Trust for Public Land, the Dunstable Rural Land Trust and the Ferraris for making this happen.

In 2005, TPL worked with the neighboring towns of Westford and Pepperell on significant conservation projects. The 265-acre Pepperell Springs Project and the $13.5 million, 286-acre East Boston Camps property in Westford were both protected with TPL’s help, and represented the culmination of multi-year collaborative efforts with the two towns and local land trusts.

Bob Kennedy, President of the Dunstable Rural Land Trust, said, “The Dunstable Rural Land Trust is pleased that the efforts of the Ferrari family, The Trust for Public Land, the Dunstable Conservation Commission, and others who have worked to accomplish this opportunity for the Town of Dunstable, have resulted in this agreement. We look forward to working with town officials to complete this important land acquisition. It will benefit so many groups and individuals in Dunstable.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas. Last year, TPL led the successful efforts to conserve the 265-acre, $3.2 million Belmont Springs property in Pepperell, and the 285-acre, $13.5 million East Boston Camps property in Westford. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped to protect more than two million acres nationwide, including nearly 11,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve its land for people mission. For more information, visit

Note to editors: To have a digital photo or map emailed to you, contact Chris Lapointe at the Trust for Public Land, (617) 367-6200 x358.