Ipswich (MA) Property Closer to Protection

TOWN OF IPSWICH: TPL has purchased 107-acre Strawberry Hill on Jeffreys Neck Road.??Depending on the availablity of state and federal funding , the town of Ipswitch will acquire either the property or a conservation easement protecting it–in either case the land will be permanently conserved.? This project will be the first funded from Ipswitch’s $10 million Open Space Bond of April 2000.

“With TPL’s purchase of Strawberry Hill, we have taken a big step towards protecting the property permanently,” explained TPL project manager Craig MacDonnell. “We are hopeful that additional state and federal funds will be committed so that the Town can purchase approximately 90 acres outright, and the state can acquire a conservation restriction on the property. If these funds are not awarded, however, we have developed a solid backup plan that will allow the town to achieve its conservation objectives.”

“The Town of Ipswich is pleased that under either scenario, our goal of seeing the majority of the property protected as conservation land will be achieved,” said Jim Engel, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

Strawberry Hill lies immediately adjacent to 45 acres owned by the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and across the street from 213-acre Greenwood Farm, which is protected by The Trustees of Reservations. In addition to providing scenic views from Jeffreys Neck Road, the property provides habitat for declining populations of ground nesting birds. Last fall, with support from Town Meeting, town officials offered to purchase Strawberry Hill for $3.5 million, but were unable to come to terms with the property’s owners. As a result, the Board of Selectmen asked for TPL’s help. Several months later, TPL reached an agreement to buy the land and proposed that the Town protect it through the purchase of a conservation easement. In April, Town Meeting endorsed the plan, and the Town began pursuing state and federal grants.

The $10 million Ipswich Open Space Bond authorization was passed in April 2000 partly due to widespread concern that Strawberry Hill was threatened with imminent development. The protection of Strawberry Hill is slated to be the first project funded with monies from the bond. Many organizations and volunteers have worked hard to achieve this land protection opportunity for the Town, including the Open Space Committee, Historical Commission, Essex County Greenbelt Association, and The Trustees of Reservations.

The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide, including nearly 75,000 acres in New England. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, call TPL’s Boston office at (617) 367-6200 or visit www.tpl.org.