Friday, December 3, 1999
Wang-Coombs becomes town agricultural land
While most voters have probably forgotten about the Wang-Coombs land since the purchase was approved last spring, the Carlisle Land Trust has been working diligently since then to bring closure to the complex deal. The town closed on the first parcel, 17.25 acres north of Curve Street on July 1, but they had to sell the limited development lots before they could acquire the 18.25 acres south of Curve. CLT trustee and coordinator for the sale, Wayne Davis, was clearly relieved to announce that the closing on the second parcel occurred on Monday, November 29.
Furthermore, while taxpayers rarely get more than expected, because of the way the lots were drawn, the town acquired 35.7 acres of agricultural land located at the junction of Curve and Fiske Streets, rather than the 32 originally promised. As explained last April at Town Meeting, the town's parcel is composed of ten lots. As for the remainder of the 44.2-acre parcel, CLT sold two lots for limited development, and John Swanson, who had the right of first refusal on an additional lot, acquired the thirteenth lot from landowner Juliette Wang.
The three lots to be developed consume about 8.5 acres and take only a small amount out of the agricultural production area, according to Davis. The town's 35.7 acres are now under the control of the Carlisle Conservation Commission which will manage the agricultural land as they do other town parcels. Approval for an agricultural restriction had been hand at the time of last spring's Town Meeting and the town is now in queue for the $10,000 per acre grant from the state which, Davis said, officials can expect in two years. According to terms in the grant, passive recreation, as long as it does not interfere with the agricultural use, will be allowed.
As far as finances, the CLT had to do some fancy footwork to make ends meet. Taxpayers approved $2,150,000 for the purchase last April, but the cost for the ten lots ended up being $2,250,000, leaving the group $100,000 short. Davis explained that the CLT faced a trade-off. They considered developing another lot, but ultimately, decided to use the profit from selling the two lots and contributions to finance the gap.
"The sale took a huge amount of effort on the part of a lot of people," Davis acknowledged. When asked more specifically, he was quick to mention CLT board member Greg Peterson who once again contributed "countless hours of uncompensated legal advice and good counsel." Also, Davis wanted to acknowledge the 12 residents who took a "bold leap of leadership" when they put up the $250,000 for a down paymentprior to the town's approval of the purchase. "They put a lot of faith and money behind us. It's an enormous relief to know they can get their money back." Davis closed with a sigh of exhaustion from the lengthy and sometimes bumpy road through acquisition and preservation of the Wang-Coombs land which will now provide agricultural land and rural vistas for Carlisle residents in perpetuity.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito