SOUTHWICK – The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) is holding a meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Southwick Town Hall to vote on whether or not to allocate $500,000 of funding to the Franklin Land Trust to help them reach the goal of raising $5 million to preserve a land area adjacent to North Pond on Congamond Lake.
According to CPC Chairman Bob Horacek, if the vote was approved, it would then have to be issued as a warrant article for the annual town meeting in May. Horacek did add that, if the Franklin Land Trust wanted the funding to be in effect sooner, they could request to the town to hold a special town meeting at an earlier date.
In October, the Franklin Land Trust made their original request for the $500,000 of funding, but the CPC wasn’t ready to make a decision on the request until their next meeting scheduled for January 31. At the annual town meeting in May of 2017, residents voted in favor of allocating $1 million from the CPC account to help raise money to preserve North Pond.
This past December, Rich Hubbard and Alain Peteroy of the Franklin Land Trust met with the Select Board to discuss their urgent need to get more funding and support in order to preserve the North Pond land.
The deadline to raise the $5 million to preserve the 146-acre property is June 30, 2019. However, Franklin Land Trust representatives came to the Select Board to inform them that they need to have the $5 million raised by March 1. The reason for the earlier deadline is that the state needs to know by March 1 if the Franklin Land Trust has the funding from the CPC. Once the state knows that, they will decide on awarding more money to the Franklin Land Trust.
Since the Franklin Land Trust believes that a decision in January might be cutting it close to raising the $5 million by March, they were looking for support from the Select Board in hopes that it could help speed the CPC’s response to the application. Currently, the Franklin Land Trust and fellow North Pond supporters have about $1.4 million left to raise.
The Franklin Land Trust has been awarded several grants to help raise the money. In November of 2016, the Massachusetts Departments of Energy and Environmental Affairs as well as Fish and Wildlife awarded the Franklin Land Trust two grants that totaled $1.4 million. One of the grants was a land grant of $400,000 while another was a grant for $1 million.
While the Franklin Land Trust and the fellow Save North Pond supporters have received larger funding sources like grants, they’re also continuing to encourage the community and local businesses to send in private donations. In order to make a donation, visit the Save North Pond website.