Princeton Rec Field Effort Moves Forward (MA)

Princeton, MA, 3/7/02: The Princeton Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, announced today that they are moving forward with a campaign to create 17 acres of new recreation fields, as part of a larger effort to protect 105 acres along East Wachusett Brook on East Princeton Road/Route 31.

Two weeks ago, TPL reached agreement to purchase the entire 105-acre property from Paxton Hills, Inc. for $820,000. TPL hopes to sell the majority of the land to the Metropolitan District Commission for $750,000 this summer, and is also offering the Town of Princeton the opportunity to purchase 17 acres for $70,000. This recreation land would be permanently protected from development by a conservation restriction held by the Metropolitan District Commission, but would be available for recreational uses such as playing fields and related structures and improvements.

“This is a great opportunity for the Town of Princeton,” said Terry Hart, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “The Princeton Open Space and Recreation Plan lists additional playing fields as one of the town’s top open space needs, and we now have an opportunity to purchase fields in an ideal location for a modest cost. The town is also extremely fortunate to have received a generous pledge of $125,000 from David and Barbara Krashes to help cover the cost of field construction.”

The Princeton Board of Selectmen voted last September to authorize TPL to begin negotiating with Paxton Hills, Inc. On February 5, the Princeton Open Space Committee voted to support the project, and on February 26, the Princeton Advisory Board took a preliminary vote in favor of the purchase. A Special Town Meeting will consider the purchase on April 2, 2002.

“The Trust for Public Land is pleased to be assisting with this unique project,” said TPL state director Craig MacDonnell. “We hope that the end result will be both new playing fields for Princeton’s athletic programs, and additional protection for one of the Commonwealth’s most important sources of clean drinking water.”

“Since the Princeton Land Trust owns 55 acres adjacent to the property being acquired, we are delighted to see this project moving towards a successful conclusion,” said Paul -more- The Trust for Public Land, page 2 Schlaikjer, president of the Princeton Land Trust. “The land trust hopes to connect the trails on its land with the new town recreation area, providing scenic hiking and cross-country skiing opportunities for the public.”

The East Wachusett Brook property is adjacent on three sides to seven acres of town-owned land on Route 31, which is currently used by the Princeton Department of Public Works. A portion of the property, roughly 17 acres near the road, including the old Ikalainen gravel pit, is suitable for redevelopment as recreation fields. There is an excellent view of Mt. Wachusett from the property. The balance of the land is primarily wooded and includes frontage on two sides of the East Wachusett Brook, an important tributary of the Wachusett Reservoir. As a result, it is a high priority for acquisition and protection by the Metropolitan District Commission.

The Wachusett Reservoir, which lies on the South Branch of the Nashua River, supplies drinking water to the Boston area. Although it receives more than 50 percent of its annual inflow from the Quabbin Reservoir, tributaries like East Wachusett Brook account for another 30 percent of its annual inflow. This property lies across the street from land already owned by the Metropolitan District Commission, which owns and manages nearly 30 percent of the Reservoir’s watershed.

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 1.4 million acres nationwide, including nearly 100,000 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.

The Princeton Land Trust is a privately operated nonprofit land trust. It is dedicated to preserving, free from development, parcels of land (forests, farmland, scenic land, special wildlife habitat) and water bodies that contribute to the beauty and the rural atmosphere of Princeton. Since it was formed in 1990, the Trust has protected more than 165 acres, including the triangle of land located at historic Russell Corner, which once formed the Town Common.