Agreement Would Protect N. Andover Hilltop (MA)

NORTH ANDOVER, Massachusetts, 2/19/04:, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today that it has signed an agreement to purchase approximately 30 acres of land at the summit of Half-Mile Hill, on the shores of Lake Cochichewick. This property is directly adjacent to 35 acres on the south slope of the hill purchased by the Town in 2002, and will expand the buffer of open space around the public water supply of Lake Cochichewick.

“The protection of this magnificent property is one further step in preserving the quality of our drinking water,” said Wendy Wakeman, chair of the North Andover Board of Selectmen. “The land has long been the Town’s top conservation priority. No new taxes will be required to purchase the Half-Mile Hill Summit, because the Town’s Community Preservation Act funds can be used for the acquisition.”

“We would like to thank the landowner, Michael Kettenbach, for giving us the opportunity to protect this spectacular property,” stated TPL project manager Nellie Aikenhead. “The land is a key linkage in an impressive corridor of open space, and its protection will help to ensure the quality of the Town’s drinking water supply.”

At the request of North Andover’s Community Preservation Committee and Board of Selectmen, TPL began negotiating to purchase the property late last fall. Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, TPL has until June 30 to purchase the property for $2.65 million from its current owner, Michael Kettenbach. On May 10, residents will vote at Town Meeting on whether to approve the use of the Town’s Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for the purchase.

To reduce the cost of the acquisition to the Town, local supporters and TPL are launching a campaign to raise $50,000 from private sources. If the campaign is successful, the Town’s purchase price will be reduced to $2.6 million.

“The Community Preservation Committee has worked hard to protect properties along the shores of Lake Cochichewick and on protecting Half-Mile Hill. Significant progress has been made in the past two years. Along with the acquisition of Carter Hill and the Mary Charles property on Half-Mile Hill, North Andover will have used CPA funds to preserve over 90 acres of hilly undeveloped land in our watershed,” said Felipe Schwarz, a member of the North Andover Community Preservation Committee. “The Community Preservation Act continues to be a catalyst for land conservation in North Andover.”

Located behind Edgewood Farm on Osgood Street and offering spectacular views of the lake and surrounding hills, the property includes 280 feet of 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 600-acre corridor of protected open space that includes town-owned Osgood Hill and the Mary Charles property, and Weir Hill Reservation, owned by the Trustees of Reservations. Protecting Half-Mile Hill Summit will help to fulfill North Andover’s long-term commitment to creating large tracts of open space for hiking, bird watching, skiing, sledding, and other low-impact recreational activities.