City of SalemThe following was submitted by Essex County Greenbelt:
The Marblehead Conservancy is partnering with Essex County Greenbelt, a regional land trust serving the entirety of Essex County, to build public awareness and support for a one-time opportunity to permanently protect the Chadwick Lead Mills site as a conservation area and gateway park for Marblehead residents. Acquisition of the Lead Mills property will fulfill a longstanding goal of Marblehead’s Open Space and Recreation Plan, and it will address citizen calls for more conservation land that were gathered in a public survey conducted earlier this year.
The survey, conducted January though March of 2012, is part of the data collection process that will help the Town identify goals and objectives for open space and recreation, and will eventually result in the creation of a five-year action plan.
“The results of the survey were presented at a recent public meeting. The survey revealed that over 60 percent of respondents felt there was not enough conservation land,” said Marblehead town planner Becky Curran.
The nearly 5-acre Lead Mill parcel is located off Lafayette Street, with most of the property falling within the Town of Marblehead and 1.4 acres located in Salem. Both municipalities have had a longstanding interest in acquiring the property for conservation.
The property had been the subject of various development proposals, including a 44-unit Chapter 40B subdivision. The property underwent remediation to address contamination originating from the Chadwick Lead Mills factory. This remediation, under the direction of the state Department of Environmental Protection, was completed last fall. With the site now free of contamination, the threat of imminent development coupled with the Town’s need for additional conservation land led Greenbelt and the Marblehead Conservancy to take action.
“The former Chadwick Lead Mills property meets all the screening criteria published by Marblehead in 2008 for consideration as conservation land, including being adjacent to existing conservation property,” said Bob French, President of the Marblehead Conservancy. “With its gentle slopes, the property offers an opportunity for those with physical limitations to enjoy natural surroundings, something that is difficult elsewhere because of terrain. It lies just over a hill from the Hamond Nature Center where the Recreation and Parks Commission is building programs to interest children in nature.”
The recently completed cleanup of the property created an opening for conversation with the landowner regarding the potential conservation of the property. The landowner has agreed to sell the parcel, appraised at $2 million, at a bargain price of $1.6 million. Greenbelt is in the latter stages of negotiating a one-year option to purchase the property, which will be assigned to the Town of Marblehead and City of Salem, and is providing technical assistance to facilitate the acquisition, allowing all partners the time needed to the put pieces of this creative collaboration together.
The Town of Marblehead and the City of Salem are cooperating to acquire and maintain the property as open space, offering passive recreation and providing access and parking for the highly used trails that connect Salem, Marblehead, and Swampscott. Through a series of town initiatives, Marblehead voters will be asked to authorize an expenditure of $1.5 million, while the City of Salem prepares a joint grant request to the State for a Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant that would help reduce the overall cost.
The Marblehead Board of Selectmen unanimously endorsed the project as “a good value” for Marblehead. The estimated amortized price per median household is $10.54 over 20 years, which would be further reduced to less than $8 per median household if state grant funds are awarded to reimburse a portion of the purchase price. The Marblehead Conservancy and Essex County Greenbelt will coordinate a $100,000 public fund-raising campaign for the balance of the funds needed for the acquisition.
The Conservancy and Greenbelt are urging voters to attend the Marblehead Town meeting, Monday, May 7 at 7:45 p.m. and to vote “yes” on Article 39 of the Town meeting warrant. The meeting will take place at Marblehead Veterans Middle School Auditorium, Duncan Sleigh Square, 217 Pleasant St.
About the Marblehead Conservancy:
The Marblehead Conservancy is an all-volunteer, member-based nonprofit. Principally known for building and maintaining trails in Marblehead’s conservation areas, the Conservancy also works with schools, scouting organizations, and the Abbot Public Library for educational purposes. These activities as well as supporting efforts to acquire conservation land and easements are all in response to Marblehead’s Open Space and Recreation Plan.
About Essex County Greenbelt:
Essex County Greenbelt is a member-supported nonprofit land trust that has protected almost 15,000 local acres since 1961. Greenbelt works with local communities and landowners to acquire and protect farmland, wildlife habitat, and the scenic landscapes of Essex County.
To learn more, visit www.ecga.org or call 978-768-7241.