I’m talking about the Colby Farm Property that lies at the intersection of Crow Lane and Low Street. I was thinking ‘darn inconvenient’ but let’s face it – it doesn’t have the force of frustration that ‘damn’ relays. It’s been frustrating for the Open Space Committee because they are eyeing a large agricultural open space just off of Turkey Hill Road that could be slated for housing – and it’s a gorgeous, pristine area that overlooks Newburyport from a high place – just picture it being turned into another Vinyl Village!
It’s been frustrating for the city too. Hours and hours of meetings and public hearings to establish an Open Space & Recreation Policy. Then all of a sudden, what with financial demands of new schools and new municipal development, that are putting tremendous pressure on the citizens – that same policy would dictate the acquisition of this last open vista off of Low Street with its potential for athletic fields.
It’s been frustrating for citizens too. They access Vision Appraisal and what they see for this open space has no reference to all this talk of Lot 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7. That’s because the deed lines they see have no relation to the projected development of housing lots the owner has anticipated. It’s doubly confusing because the owner is offering these lots at a price projected that a house lies on them, referencing perceived value rather than the real value of the land.
And that is where it is frustrating for our planning office. Only Lot 8 was offered and so no clock is ticking on the 120 days of first-refusal for 61A agricultural lands for the other desired lots. To make this whole deal work for the city, Lots 1, and possibly 2 and 7 would have to be purchased. There is also the presence of wetlands – how much will it be impacted if athletic fields or community gardens are established? How much land is needed to make it all work? What’s the real purchase value of those lands if you couldn’t build a house on it anyway due to wetlands?
Dyke Hendrickson, just eyeing the city council subcommittees, made the passing reference at the end of the year, “A first refusal to purchase Lot 8 on Low Street will succumb….” and then made reference later that the will of the city is in doubt in pursuing this acquisition.
To clarify to the public, the city is very much committed. To clarify, Lot 8 has definitely been acquired. The deed transfer for the land has been finalized and a consulting firm has been commissioned to find out how much additional land needs to be obtained for athletic fields (or other uses such as community gardening). In addition, a re-examination of the value of the additional lots has commenced to put them more in line with the real property value, which should save the city money when acquiring them. Plus, additional monies have been set aside in case the other Lot’s are offered.
But the owner of the property has not offered the additional Lots 1, 2 & 7; therefore the clock has not commenced for the city to act on first-refusal. This has been frustrating for Lillian Montalto, the realty agent, who would love to get on with selling the build-able parts of the property near Crow Lane and Low Street.
In one way, this is good; it allows open space funding to increase over time and other city priorities to proceed unabated.
But just like the for sale signs hanging around the property and dangling in disrepair,
The waiting is just frustrating!