Land Trust awards stewardship bids

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 10:00pm

With Harold “Turtle” Hatfield” abstaining, the Land Trust opened and awarded stewardship bids for 2018 at its meeting on Dec. 14. 

There were just three bidders, Islandscape, which is owned by Hatfield, Revo, and Connelli Land Improvement Services. Some of the properties needing mowing and stone wall clearing only received one bid, but one received two bids of equal amounts. Chair Barbara MacMullan and Treasurer Barby Michel wondered what to do — wait until more Land Trust members could be present, or something else?

“You could flip a coin,” suggested Clerk Heidi Tarbox. Land Trust Attorney Joe Priestley flipped the coin, and, with heads winning, the bid for mowing at the Lebow property was awarded to Islandscape.

Two requests for bids had been held back as Hatfield wanted to come up with new mowing plans for the Turnip Farm and Fresh Pond. The idea behind the new plans is to “checkerboard” the mowing, so the entire properties are not mowed at the same time. Plans for both properties involve mowing separate areas in the winter and summer.

Members of the Land Trust decided to divvy up the mowing into three separate bids – two for Fresh Pond, and one for the Turnip Farm. Those bids will be advertised in the Dec. 23 and Jan. 6 issues of The Block Island Times.  

Hatfield also has a new plan for maintaining the beach access path that leads from the Ocean View Foundation property to just south of Ballard’s Beach. The path is only a few years old, and was installed as an alternative to another path that had eroded to the point that it was unsafe.  Now part of the new path is suffering from erosion. Hatfield suggested cutting a new path 25 feet from the old one and to periodically move the path “back and forth.” As for how to block off the existing path, Hatfield said: “The stuff I cut on one path will go on the other.”

“That’s a good idea, Turtle,” said Chris Littlefield of The Nature Conservancy.

Plans for another new path were a bit more tricky.  In the Beacon Hill area there is a patchwork of conserved properties and old maps, which are still in circulation, show a path going through private property where, currently, the owners allow hunting. The problem is that hikers come upon a field and don’t know where to go next. A gap in a stone wall that some may think is the correct way to go, leads into the property.

The Land Trust has an easement on the field, which allows for pedestrian access. The field is mowed once per year, and after considering various options, the Land Trust felt the best plan would be to create a path through the field that could be mown once per week. Hatfield suggested consulting with the property owner and asking that whoever mows the lawn, also mow the path. The Land Trust would reimburse the homeowner for the extra mowing. Signage showing which way was private and which way was public could also be installed. 

Strong real estate sales in October and November have resulted in the Land Trust collecting $427,554 in transfer fees for those two months. Real estate transfer fees allow the Land Trust to purchase and conserve more properties. In November, the Land Trust participated with The Nature Conservancy in the purchase of the Biaggi property near the end of Dorry’s Cove Road.