Musketaquid Wild Walks

 

With the – help of our members and neighbors, CLCT has successfully completed the acquisition of Hartwell Meadow, a scenic and productive 5.3 acre hayfield at the border between Concord and Carlisle. This was the first time that CLCT purchased land by exercising the right of first refusal (ROFR) under Chapter 61A, the agricultural land tax. In doing so, we had to match the price that the owners had received through a bonafide offer to purchase—$775,000 for the single family house lot that was the permitted use of this land under a prior subdivision approval. Fortunately, we had received generous pledges from several members that led us to believe that, with additional fundraising, the purchase was within reach.

The ROFR process is set by law, and ultimately we had only 90 days to raise the remainder of the funds. Once again, we were heartened by the commitment shown by our members and the neighbors to preserving open space, including the farmland, trail system, and historic and agricultural landscape that this property exemplifies. Since the purchase was accomplished, we have started to work on a conservation restriction for Hartwell Meadow; this is a requirement of exercising the ROFR that adds an additional layer of protection to the property. We will also be working with the Tyler family to extend a trail easement through their abutting land that will connect this property to Westford Road and then to all our upper Spencer Brook valley trails. Finally, the Duffy family will continue to hay the field for their dairy farm.

View from Betty’s house of hay bales on Hartwell Meadow. (Photos courtesy of Betty Meehan)
 
Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. Jackson Brown, Jr.
 
 

Hey look – no images. To learn more about the recent history of the meadow, we turned to Betty Meehan who grew up in the house on Lowell Road across from Hartwell Meadow. Betty’s parents, Ruth and Ralph Howe, bought their 25-acre property in 1929, attracted by its diverse apple orchard. From the house, Betty could see only three structures across this open, rural landscape: the Jones (now Tyler) barn to the west, the Bartkus house with its chicken farm to the south, and the Hayes house to the north. The field across the road was owned by the Hayes and grazed by their dairy herd. The Hayes’ niece, Reena (Alexandrina) MacGuinness, grew up with them in the house at 1140 Concord Street in Carlisle and eventually inherited the property.

 

Wild walks in the wild west have nothing on old Musky

 

It was from the estate of Alexandrina Irwin that the Land Trust purchased Hartwell Meadow. Betty remembers sitting on her front porch and calling to Reena, who was sitting on her stoop across and up the road, exchanging the lines to a song that began “playmate, come out and play with me.” She remembers sledding on the hill behind the Hayes house with the Bartkus children and exploring a cranberry bog in the nearby woods with Mrs. Hayes. When pasteurization became popular, the Hayes could not afford the equipment it required and gave up their cows. The field was then used by Guy and Dot Clark to grow corn for their dairy farm in Carlisle. But Betty remembers that for much of her life, Hartwell Meadow has been a hayfield. We like to hope that in conserving this land, we have helped retain a sense of what was once a quiet and pastoral
neighborhood.

View from Betty’s house of hay bales on Hartwell Meadow. (Photos courtesy of Betty Meehan)