Friday, April 9, 1999
Funds for O'Rourke Farm now in Carlisle's Pocket
There was plenty of good cheer in Town Hall on Monday when U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan hand-delivered a check for $1,784,217 for the sale of the 129-acre O'Rourke Farm to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Selectmen Vivian Chaput, Michael Fitzgerald, and Doug Stevenson as well as Greg Peterson of the Carlisle Land Trust were on hand to receive the funds on behalf of the town and to conclude the two-year effort, on the local and federal level, to preserve the Maple Street tract.
As part of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Complex, the farm will help to create one square mile of protected conservation and refuge land along the Concord River. The purchase was made possible through a combination of Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriations ($1,521,317) and Migratory Bird Conservation Fund "Duck Stamps" ($262,900) sold to hunters who use public lands. A year from now, the town also will receive approximately $8,000 per year in shared revenue payments from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The town of Carlisle appropriated $1.8 million to protect the farm in December 1997 and purchased the property from the O'Rourke family in May 1998. Congressman Meehan and U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy worked with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees to secure funding for the purchase. The farm runs along the Concord River and will protect vital wetlands and farm land, public drinking water supplies and an extensive public trail network.
"This is a great day for Carlisle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Massachusetts. Preserving public open space is one of the most important tools we have, to sustain our communities, wildlife habitats and environment," Meehan said. "I give great credit to the residents of Carlisle who voted to protect the farm, their elected officials and the Carlisle Land Trust who have worked tirelessly for the past 18 months....Without everyone's involvement, today's closing would not have been possible."
"The O'Rourke Farm is a beautiful piece of property that will provide wonderful open space and recreation for the people of Carlisle and Massachusetts," said Kennedy. "It will also greatly enhance the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge."
"With this sale, we have achieved the goal of protecting 129 acres of Carlisle farm and woodland, preserving extensive drinking water rights for future generations, and providing access to over six miles of public walking trails that interconnect the eastern corridor of town," said chair of the board of selectmen, Vivian Chaput. "After the dedicated efforts of many individuals, we have received nearly full reimbursement of the town's initial investment. We wish to thank many for this accomplishment, beginning with the voters who placed their trust in land conservation and took the risk to purchase the property. In addition, Congressman Meehan and Senator Kennedy and their staffs were instrumental in bringing this sale to completion. Finally, this successful outcome would never have happened without the tireless efforts of town resident Greg Peterson of the Carlisle Land Trust. Together we have shown how local and federal governments can work together to achieve mutual goals."
Peterson, a trustee of the Carlisle Land Trust, cited the leadership of the board of selectmen, particularly Chaput, Douglas Stevenson and Michael Fitzgerald, the town water qualtiy committee chair Tony Mariano, Jr., the congressional delegation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as all critical to the success of the project. "Today, we have all kept the faith with Carlisle's voters and taxpayers. We said we would resell the O'Rourke Farm to USFW, while retaining water rights and walking trails and today we kept that promise. The Carlisle Land Trust is hopeful that the voters will approve reusing these monies to preserve the Wang corn fields," Peterson commented.
For those wondering about the whereabouts of the recently received funds, town treasureer Nancy Koerner has invested the money with U.S. Trust in a Certificate of Deposit, which pays an interest rate of 4.92 percent, until the note for the town's purchase of the parcel comes due in August.
Bud Oliveira, project leader of Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge Complex, noted, "This purchase will fill a large gap within the Great Meadows Refuge....The many fields will support nesting opportunities for grassland birds, which are of particular concern in New England...This acquisition would never had been possible if it weren't for the foresight of the people of Carlisle and their belief in land conservation."
The trail agreement with Fish and Wildlife was signed and took effect on April 8. Trails committee member Louise Hara said she anticipated that the trails committee, along with Fish and Wildlife, would mark the trails within the next month so people can find their way more clearly. Parking will be at Greenough and Foss Farm.
This article is based on a press release from the office of Rep. Marty Meehan.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito