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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    A view of the Terrell property off Groton Road in Nashua, Wednesday, July 21, 2010. The landowner is selling 46 acres to the city, to be preserved for hiking and biking trails.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    A motorist passes by the Terrell property, right, off Groton Road in Nashua, Wednesday, July 21, 2010. The landowner is selling 46 acres to the city, to be preserved for hiking and biking trails.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

    TheTerrell property off Groton Road in Nashua is across the road from the end of a hiking/biking trail on the south side. The landowner is selling 46 acres to the city, to be preserved for hiking and biking trails.
Thursday, July 22, 2010

City close to acquiring key conservation tract

NASHUA – Land owned by the same family since before Nashua existed will be set aside for conservation and as a monument to the people who farmed it for generations.

The city is close to sealing the deal to buy the 46.52-acre tract, which once was part of a larger farm on Groton Road. On Tuesday, the aldermen’s Planning and Economic Development Committee endorsed a proposal to buy the land for $15,048 an acre, or a total price of $700,033.

City officials described the price as a “bargain,” especially since some of the land is developable.

The money won’t be paid from property taxes, but from land-use change fees that developers paid into the city’s conservation fund, which contains just over $3 million. The proposed purchase needs the approval of the full Board of Aldermen

The land has been in the Terrell family since 1777, city officials said.

“It represents a time in Nashua’s history and represents a way of life that is all but forgotten,” said Peggy Trivilino, who chairs the Conservation Commission.

“It was Nashua before Nashua was Nashua.”

Landowner Albert W. Terrell declined to comment Wednesday on the proposed sale. He said he would like to talk after the deal is closed.

Trivilino said Terrell was willing to sell the property to the city because “he wanted the land to be preserved in memory of the family.”

The property ranked fifth in priority out of 22 properties on a natural resources inventory the city created in 2005. The list included privately owned land throughout the city that the Conservation Commission viewed as desirable for preservation.

If the city didn’t buy, the land likely would one day be developed into plots for single-family homes, city officials said.

With well-developed trails, the land is prime for hiking and won’t be developed into athletic fields, said Ryan Young of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

The proposed deal includes a 180-foot easement on the north side of Groton Road for a bicycle and pedestrian trail.

Features of the Terrell land include vernal pools, a mix of wetlands and uplands, old-growth forests and edge and field habitats, Young said.

Alderman-at-Large Brian McCarthy, who lives nearby in the city’s southwest quadrant, said the area is excellent wildlife habitat. McCarthy said he’s often had to stop for deer in the road while driving there at night.

Another key to the importance of the site is its proximity to other large conservation tracts, McCarthy said. He added that the land lies adjacent to the the Groton Woods Conservation Easement and near Yudicky Farm, Lovewell’s Pond conservation land and, to the south, the large Dunstable (Mass.) Land Trust.

The Terrell land would be closed to motor vehicles but open to pedestrians and bicycles under the resolution.

Also, the city would pay a one-time $10,000 fee to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests as a stewardship endowment for maintaining the conservation easement.

As part of the agreement, the city would own the land but would be prohibited from developing it, Young said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the city to own the land for many generations,” said Conservation Commission member Cynthia Overby.

“It’s a priceless little piece of Nashua’s history that we can actually walk on,” Trivilino said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.