New Park Project Launched in Magnolia, MA

Manchester and Gloucester, MA: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit conservation organization, announced today that it has reached an agreement to purchase two acres in Magnolia from the current owner, Debon Realty Trust. The property, which straddles the border between Manchester and Gloucester, includes frontage on both Raymond Street in Manchester and Magnolia Avenue in Gloucester. TPL hopes to raise sufficient funding to purchase the property, remove the existing dilapidated building and parking lot, and redevelop the land as a public park.

Under the terms of the agreement, TPL has until April 11, 2001 to purchase the property for $1.4 million. In addition, TPL is beginning to gather cost estimates for demolition, cleanup, planning, design, and park construction, which are expected to total at least $500,000. Anonymous private donors have already pledged funds to cover the acquisition of the property, and over the next several months, TPL will be working with local residents to raise matching contributions from private and public sources.

“This is a wonderful chance to reclaim open space and create a new community resource in Magnolia,” explained Nellie Aikenhead, project manager for TPL. “Although mostly paved now, the property offers scenic views of Gray’s Beach and Kettle Cove and has terrific potential as a public park. We are still in the initial stages, however, and we have a big hill to climb over the next two months. In addition to identifying sufficient funding for the project, we need to complete an environmental review of the property and identify a permanent owner for the park.”

If funds can be identified by April 11, TPL plans to move forward with the purchase, oversee the demolition and park construction, and ultimately transfer ownership of the property to the Town of Manchester and the City of Gloucester, or another appropriate owner.

“This proposal has the potential to provide tremendous benefits to Magnolia,” remarked Manchester Selectman Daniel Senecal. “In addition, it provides a unique occasion for the City of Gloucester and the Town of Manchester to work together.”

“The proposal to build a public park on this beautiful sight provides an opportunity for community building in the truest sense,” said Mark Nestor, a member of the Gray’s Beach Neighborhood Association. “This would be the best possible outcome of the efforts of the Gray’s Beach Neighborhood Association and the Magnolia Neighborhood Association to preserve the integrity and beauty of their community. We will be working hard over the next two months in an effort to identify municipal, state, and additional private funds to complete this project.”

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 60,000 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