Watershed land in Pownal up for sale

Jim Therrien


POWNAL — The proposed sale of 218 acres of Pownal forestland by the city of North Adams, Mass., has drawn the interest of conservationists who would like to see the land protected.

The land, in several contiguous parcels extending south to north from the Williamstown, Mass., border, is a former backup water intake area for the city's water system that is no longer in use.     

At Mayor Richard Alcombright's request, the City Council earlier this week approved seeking offers for the land, which is part of the city's Broad Brook watershed area. The mayor said Thursday that requests for proposals will be sought, and those will be considered based on price and suitability of use.

He said the administration will likely then bring a recommended sale agreement back to the council for final approval.

One of the mayor's priorities, he said, is that the planned use be environmentally friendly.

"My preference is I would love to see some protection for the land," he said.

The parcels are near the Appalachian Trail, which is located to the east, and Green Mountain National Forest land. The city, in fact, sold a total of 3,420 acres in the area to the national forest in 2006 and 2007, according to Pownal real estate records.

The Trustees of Reservation also owns forest land in the vicinity — part of a preserved natural area that includes hiking trails and is located in both Williamstown and Pownal.

The city-owned property is assessed at $378,300 on 218.6 acres. There was discussion at the city council's meeting of whether that assessment was high, but the valuation has never been grieved, according to town lister records.

From Williamstown, the property is accessed via White Oaks Road, which continues with that name into Pownal.

Asked whether the Vermont Land Trust was aware of the proposed sale, Donald Campbell, southwest regional director with the organization, said VLT was made aware and is interested in helping to preserve the 218 acres, "if that is a priority for the town of Pownal."

The VLT previously helped secure for the town grant funding for the purchase of about 700 acres of forestland in North Pownal along the Taconic Range and established a conservation easement for the former Pownal Tanning Co. property.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and VTDigger.org. @BB_therrien on Twitter.


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