Stoughton (MA) Votes to Acquire Libby Farm

STOUGHTON, Massachusetts, 1/8/03: A milestone in the effort to permanently protect 81-acre Libby Farm on West Street was reached last night, when Stoughton Town Meeting voted 126 to 9 to authorize the Town to acquire the farm. According to last night’s vote, the majority of the property will be managed as conservation land, with approximately 4 acres set aside for playing fields. The Town voted to fund the purchase through general borrowing. The vote, which was previously scheduled for January 14, will still be held.

Although the full purchase price is $1,665,000, the Town’s cost will be reduced significantly by federal and private grants. The Town has been awarded $500,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, $15,000 from the William P. Wharton Trust, and $10,000 from the Fields Pond Foundation. Project supporters are working now to raise a minimum of $10,000 in additional grants to reduce the Town’s cost to $1,130,000. Stoughton’s Treasurer estimates that the average annual cost per household will be $9.79 in the first year, declining each year to $5.24 in the twentieth and final year of payments.

Last summer, the Stoughton Board of Selectmen and Open Space Committee asked the Trust for Public Land (TPL) for assistance in protecting the Libby Farm. In October, TPL negotiated an agreement with the owner, GCL Wood Street Realty Trust, giving the Town until January 15 to approve the purchase. Last night’s vote allows the Town to move forward.

Libby Farm is the Town’s highest priority for protection because of its location in a corridor of existing conservation land. It is surrounded on three sides by 630-acres of Town conservation land, including Stoughton Memorial Conservation Lands and the Edward F. McNamara Farm, which the Town purchased for permanent conservation in 2000. The property includes wetlands, forests, meadows, and rocky outcrops, and is crossed by popular hiking trails and old cart roads.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit 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 more than 10,000 acres in Massachusetts. 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 the third year in a row.