Selectmen support article for open space

AMHERST – The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to support a warrant article intended to simultaneously preserve open space in town while providing more land for active recreation.

The article, drafted by the Amherst Conservation Commission, would ask voters to approve a bond of up to $5.5 million dollars to acquire open space in town. Of that total, 85 percent would be used to buy conservation land, and the remaining 15 percent would be used for recreation land.

An Open Space Advisory Committee, made up of representatives of various town boards as well as residents, would determine and pursue appropriate land acquisitions, said Graham Hankey, a conservation commission member who presented the plan to selectmen.

While the details have yet to be worked out, the commission proposes supporting a bond with a 20-year term so that the tax impact is spread out over time, Hankey said.

Having a “pot of money” available gives the town a better chance at competing with development interests, Hankey said in an earlier interview.

It was announced at the selectmen’s meeting that the Amherst Land Trust was about a month away from completing a cost of services study that will examine and compare the financial impact of various land uses in town, including residential, commercial and industrial development and open space.