Essex County Greenbelt, the Boxford Trails Association/Boxford Open Land Trust (BTA/BOLT) and the Town of Boxford announce the permanent protection of the Nason property on Hovey's Pond in Boxford. The acquisition saves a well known, scenic West Boxford property and critical wildlife habitat from being developed into six or more estate home sites. The 46 acres of rolling woodlands, wetlands, and grassland include 450 feet of shoreline on Hovey's Pond and an extensive system of public trails for hiking and horseback riding that link to adjacent preserved lands.
Last winter, BTA/BOLT learned that substantial acreage on Hovey's Pond was about to be sold to a developer. The property's Chapter 61 status meant that the Town had the right of first refusal, with just 120 days to decide whether to acquire the land for conservation by meeting the developer's offer price. Residents rallied when they heard this news. BTA/BOLT sought Greenbelt's help to develop an acquisition plan.
With the 120-day deadline looming, Greenbelt and BTA/BOLT worked to fundraise and spread awareness of the threat to the Nason land. BTA/BOLT led many public walks on the property, and raised more than $500,000 from Boxford residents. Greenbelt secured an option agreement with the landowner, ensuring the property would remain available for purchase.
A town acquisition required a two-thirds majority vote at the annual Boxford Town Meeting. In May, town residents voted unanimously to authorize $950,000 for the purchase, with the knowledge that private citizens committed to saving this community asset had already donated more than half of the purchase price. “These acres are part of BTA/BOLT's vision of acquiring contiguous parcels of land to create extensive green corridors for wildlife and people, creating beneficial environments for all,” said Natasha Grigg, BTA/BOLT's president.
Under the terms of the project agreement, Greenbelt purchased the property from the Nason family on October 23rd. Greenbelt's ownership of the property will be brief. The Town has submitted two state grant applications that could refund up to $400,000 of the Town's acquisition cost. Greenbelt's pre-acquisition allows the Town to remain eligible for the pending state grants. Once the grant has been awarded, the Town will acquire the property from Greenbelt, and welcome the public to this newly acquired conservation land.
“Greenbelt is thrilled with this result of our partnership with BTA/BOLT and the citizens of Boxford,” said Executive Director Ed Becker. “This beautiful, rare and environmentally valuable property is now conserved, providing permanent protection for its irreplaceable natural resources and a special place for public recreation.”