TOWNSEND -- Townsend received a state grant to purchase a 35-acre parcel in the middle of Old Meetinghouse Park.

Obtaining the acreage will fill a "big, gaping hole" dissecting the park, said Townsend Conservation Agent Leslie Gabrilska.

"I am so psyched," she said of the $35,547 award.

The Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity grant was announced Dec. 5.

The additional land will give the users of Old Meetinghouse Park more options.

A trail from Highland Street leads to a loop trail.

"It can take you a good hour, hour and a half. It's a good hike," Gabrilska said.

A trail across the additional acreage will create a shorter route.

"Now we'll be able to put a trail right across it," she said.

The town approved using some municipal funds to purchase the land. The purchase price is $50,000, Gabrilska said.

The amount not covered by the state grant will be taken from the conservation fund. This money for the commission is set aside at Town Meetings.

Work and planning for the purchase of the park is not complete.

An appraisal needs to be updated.

The trailhead is on Highland Street, across from the water tower. The Highway Department has agreed to install a crosswalk and the Water Department will make parking available at the foot of the access road to the tower, Gabrilska said.

The new parcel was logged several years ago. Other land in Old Meetinghouse Park will be logged soon.


Advertisement

The forest-management plan has already been approved.

"We are starting to do a logging on the property. There's a lot of pressure from some people to do it," she said.

The town purchased the land for Old Meetinghouse Park with the help of a $476,000 grant from the state's Self Help Program in 1997. It was understood that the land would be used to generate income to pay for the town's share of the purchase price, Gabrilska said.

The first phase of the logging will be used to fund a second phase before the town sees a profit, she said.

The logging is planned to have a minimum impact on users of the park.

"We will do it so they stay away from the trails we have. They will keep a buffer zone," Gabrilska said.

One of the goals is to maintain the "primitive" trails built recently by Eagle Scouts.

"The kids did a lot of work," she said.

The changes in the park will give local volunteers and trail builders a chance to use their skills. Gabrilska is hoping for a boardwalk to cross a drainage area near the trailhead. Poison ivy needs to be cleared out, the signage needs to be improved and there will be those new trails to build.

Anyone interested in helping out should contact Leslie Gabrilska at the Conservation Commission in town hall at 978-597-1700, ext. 1739.