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Weare warrant article would help purchase 137 acres

WEARE - Creating a massive swath of conservation land, while providing a gravel pit for town needs and space for future athletic fields are the goals behind the proposed purchase of the Banks/Schmid Project. The proposal is on a warrant article to be voted on Tuesday.

The Russell Foundation is seeking creative ways to preserve open space. The 137-acre parcel is being offered to the town at the price of $600,000. The land includes 117 acres of scenic agricultural fields and forests, all of which will be placed in conservation easement and remain undeveloped.

The land will serve not only as open space, but as a place for passive recreation like hiking, active agricultural and forestry opportunities, scenic benefits along the East Road Agriculture corridor and educational opportunities, as it's located just a half-mile from the Weare Middle School. The Weare Winter Wanderers will continue to use snowmobile trails on the land.

Residents have already started thinking about the activities that could take place on the land and there's been talk of a skating pond, a community garden, even orchards, said Russell Foundation Executive Director Ian Sweeney.

The property also includes eight acres that constitute a gravel pit and 12 acres that won't be put under easement and could be used for town purposes like creating athletic fields.

Though the asking price for the land is $600,000, taxpayers aren't being asked to foot the entire bill. The warrant article calls for $200,000 of the purchase price to be raised in a one-time appropriation, said Selectman Richard Butt. Other organizations, private and public donors have all contributed to the purchase of the land.

The land is in a perfect location to both serve the town and to create a large contiguous stretch of conservation land, said Butt. Located just off East Street in the center of town, the land will help create a 340-acre stretch of open space.

According to McSweeney, the land will be named in memory of landowner Alma Schmid, who died a few years ago. Schmid had a keen appreciation for the scenery on her property and it was her dream to see it stay that way forever. In keeping with that dream, her longtime partner, Ray Banks, is placing the land in conservation easement so the property is never developed and always retains its natural grace.


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