Preserve North Pond project looking for donations

SOUTHWICK – With 2,900’ feet in lake frontage and 3,700’ feet in road frontage, this North Pond land on Congamond Lake is a very appealing piece of property.

The 144-acre, two parcel property includes North Pond as well as the Wildlife Management Area.

Sole owner of the land, Denis LeClair-Robbins, has had an official appraisal conducted on the North Pond land, estimating to be about $5 million. LeClair-Robbins has put a one-year option on the property, which gives members of the Town of Southwick one year to raise $5 million in funds in order to preserve the North Pond land.

A project has been set in place to preserve the land. John Whalley, owner of several businesses in Southwick and the creator of Whalley Park, has developed a plan.

 Part of North Pond on Congamond Lake on June 24, 2016.

Members of the Town of Southwick have a fundraising plan in effort to preserve the North Pond land. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

Along with the help of Conservation Commission coordinator Dennis Clark, Historical Commission treasurer David Gunn, and Southwick Fish and Wildlife agent Sam Lovejoy, Whalley has organized a way to start the fundraiser.

The plan is to have businesses in Southwick contribute to the fundraising. Whalley is looking for 20 businesses that can donate up to $50,000 each. The ultimate goal is to have a total $1 million in fundraising from the 20 businesses. One of Whalley’s businesses, the American Inn, is the first business to donate $50,000.

Whalley has a specific method to how the money would be raised. Each business that donates, will match five cents for every dollar that is donated. If a business donates $500, each business would then match it with five cents, which would double the amount to $1,000.

It is also highly encouraged for businesses in Southwick to donate any amount they can, in an effort to help support and preserve the North Pond land.

Every business who donates will be advertised in The Westfield News. A donation of $250 or more is considered a premiere donation and those businesses will get their name put in bold print. Any donation under $250 would still allow businesses to be advertised in The Westfield News, but in regular print.

Big or small, every donation matters to helping the cause of preserving this land.

“We’re dying to find businesses that are willing to help in any way,” said Whalley.

The checks for the donations will be written out to Franklin Land Trust, located in Shelburne Falls, Mass. Franklin Land Trust is a non-profit organization that assists farmers and landowners with preserving their land. Franklin Land Trust will qualify the donations as tax deductible.

Lovejoy is very passionate about preserving this part of the lake and as well as the entire property.

North Pond on Congamond Lake on June 24, 2016.

Seen in the distance are two boats parked near the shore of North Pond. North Pond is a popular destination for boats to dock. (Photo by Greg Fitzpatrick)

“I’m really interested in preserving this property because of the lake,” said Lovejoy. “I’m as interested in fish and game and protecting the land behind us.”

The North Pond land presents a very unique aspect to the community with several tourists and Southwick residents who enjoy their time near the lake. Whalley pointed out that, North Pond is the only part of Congamond Lake where people can park their boats and enjoy themselves.

The Wildlife Management Area, which is right on the border of the North Pond land, has the last grassland bird habitat that exists in the state. The wildlife area and North Pond present the unique importance to preserving the property.

“What’s astounding is that very rarely do you have a piece of land this big that has several aspects to it that are huge,” said Lovejoy.

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