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A Missing Link in a Green Corridor
CLCT has been protecting land in the upper Spencer Brook Valley for over 40 years, and now protects over 170 acres – 83 acres that we own and 91 acres held in conservation restrictions. These properties preserve the water quality and watershed of Spencer Brook; they provide a habitat corridor that runs the length of the brook; and they offer an extensive recreational trail system within which we are continually working to build connections.
In aerial maps of the area, you can spot a parcel of land near the Carlisle town line that represents a missing link in a green chain of conservation land extending all the way from Strawberry Hill Road well into Carlisle. With your timely help, the Concord Land Conservation Trust will be able to preserve this land.
Hartwell Meadow – History and Agriculture
The land that we are calling Hartwell Meadow is a scenic, 5.3 acre productive hayfield on the border with Carlisle. It is located on the west side of Lowell Road between Hartwell Road (the last street in Concord) and the town line. Where it touches Lowell Road, the property features a lovely meadow which slopes down to a hayfield that is surrounded by woodland. On the north side, the property is mostly bordered by land owned by the Town of Carlisle.
This land has likely been under cultivation since the late 17th century. It was part of a 154 acre tract owned by the Hartwell family beginning in 1695. John Hartwell, a housewright, eventually built several houses on the property. One of these he gave to his son David Hartwell, a Minuteman who marched to the North Bridge on April 19, 1775. In the early part of the 20th century the Hayes family purchased the property, cultivating the fields for hay and corn, and keeping chickens as well as other small farm animals.
Northwest Concord was a productive agricultural area from the 17th to the 20th century. Today, this farming heritage has been thoughtfully preserved thanks to the foresight and generosity of neighboring landowners who placed conservation restrictions on a number of fields and meadows. Immediately adjacent to Hartwell Meadow are the extensive hayfields that were permanently preserved by Vic and Mary Tyler through their donation of conservation restrictions in 2007 and 2009. By acquiring the Meadow, and continuing to have it hayed or to put it in some other agricultural use as time and demand suggests, we will be adding to a significant commitment that the Land Trust and neighbors have already made.
A central reason that the Land Trust is interested in Hartwell Meadow relates to public access and connecting existing walking trails. The conservation restriction donated by the Tylers on their hayfield to the south of Hartwell Road provides for public access. However, there is a narrow strip of land between the Tylers’ land and Hartwell Road that is part of Hartwell Meadow. As a result, a future owner of Hartwell Meadow could block public access to the Tylers’ land from the north. Land Trust ownership of Hartwell Meadow would guarantee such public access in perpetuity. In addition, if the Land Trust is able to acquire the Meadow, the Tyler family has offered an additional access easement across their land that will enable walkers to continue beyond the restricted hayfields all the way to Westford Road, a significant benefit to the neighborhood and to anyone who enjoys walking here.
The undeveloped land immediately to the north of Hartwell Meadow was acquired by the town of Carlisle through a tax taking. While it is largely wetland and unlikely to be developed, it continues to be listed as municipal land. If the Land Trust is able to protect Hartwell Meadow, the Carlisle Conservation Commission and Board of Selectmen intend to request the Town of Carlisle to officially designate the parcels that it owns abutting the Meadow as conservation land. This will create a continuous network of permanently conserved land running through Concord across Hartwell Meadow and well into Carlisle.
The Acquisition Process
Hartwell Meadow is currently owned by the Irwin Trust. Because of its agricultural use as a hayfield, the property has qualified for enrollment in the Chapter 61A program for many years. As a condition of enrollment and in exchange for a reduced property tax, owners of Chapter 61A land must offer the Town of Concord a right of first refusal at the time they intend to sell the land for another use. In April 2017, the Town received this offer when it was notified that the Irwin Trust had entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement to sell the property for development for $775,000. As permitted by applicable law, the Town has assigned its right of first refusal to purchase the property at this price to the Land Trust.
We are asking for support from our members and from the nearby Concord and Carlisle neighborhoods for the acquisition of Hartwell Meadow. To purchase the property, our goal is to raise the $775,000 purchase price plus another $25,000 for estimated transaction costs. This must be accomplished within the limited time period provided by the statute, which requires that we close on the purchase this fall. Fortunately, we have received generous pledges from several Land Trust members that lead us to believe that, with additional fundraising, we can reach our goal. If our fundraising campaign is successful, Hartwell Meadow will be preserved for its conservation, recreation, historical and agricultural value forever.
Please help us preserve this remaining link in a corridor of green.
Donate online by using the button below or mail a check to CLCT, P.O. Box 141, Concord MA 01742.