Town weighs buying open space tract

AMHERST – Selectmen are considering the purchase of 104 acres of open space that straddles the town line with Bedford.

The board discussed the proposed purchase of the land on Fellows Farm Road during the first of two public hearings Monday night.

The town’s Open Space Advisory Committee is recommending that the town buy the land from resident Gertrude W. Martin for $1.89 million.

Selectmen have the authority to buy the land after the second public hearing Dec. 1. In 2005, selectmen were given the authority to bond $5.5 million for open space, and much of that has been unspent.

The decision to buy the land would likely be made during the week of Dec. 8 or Dec. 15, said selectmen, unless someone files a petition warrant article, which would force the issue into voters’ hands.

Sixty-seven acres are in Amherst and the other 37 are in Bedford.

The open space committee recommends that if the sale goes through, Amherst should sell the land in Bedford to the town of Bedford.

There is also a house on the property. If the house and surrounding land is sold, that could net $1.15 million, according to the committee. If the land in Bedford and the home are sold, the net cost of the purchase to Amherst taxpayers could be $440,000, according to the committee.