Westerly Land Trust members Tom Beattie, Bob Piola, and Dick Holliday secure a bridge last May for the paths in Wahaneeta Preserve, one of the properties contiguous to the Lucey Propery. |
Jill Connor, The Sun, file photo
April 22, 2014 08:30AM
On Thursday, a bond referendum will be held authorizing the issuance of bonds and notes for the purchase of 12 properties (433 acres of land, often referred to as the Lucey properties) for “open space.”
Due to the wording of this referendum, this land would be held in its natural state in perpetuity, forever preserving this land as open space. These properties are unique in that they lie within the Bradford Aquifer protection recharge zone as designated in the Westerly Comprehensive Plan. This aquifer recharge zone supplies water to the Bradford Aquifer which in turn supplies water to multiple Bradford wellheads.
These properties are also unique in that they are all abutting neighbors to either the Woody Hill Management Area (819 acres of state owned land) or the Bradford Preserve (57 acres of Westerly Municipal Land Trust land).
Purchase of these 12 properties would result in a contiguous watershed area in excess of 1,200 acres. Purchase price for these 433 acres is $1.3 million.
If the bond is approved, the town of Westerly has committed to applying to the Rhode Island Department of Environment Management for a possible reimbursement of up to 50 percent of the funds used to purchase these properties.
The annual cost per household, based on the median home value of $310,000, would be approximately $6.53 (without Rhode Island Department of Environment Management reimbursement.)
Recently the Westerly Town Council indicated it would not pursue these properties if the bond referendum did not pass. This means commercial entities could purchase these properties and pursue their own interests.
The Westerly Conservation Commission supports the passage of this bond for the protection of the Bradford Aquifer and the aquifer recharge zone. The Westerly Conservation Commission encourages the citizens of Westerly to participate in this bond referendum so each citizen has a voice in our local government.
This letter was written by Joseph MacAndrew on behalf of the Westerly Conservation Commission.