Mattapoisett Lands Trust eyes grants to fund 120 acre purchase

Apr 10, 2019

MATTAPOISETT — The Board of Selectmen agreed to let the Mattapoisett Land Trust apply for a grant in the town’s name as it explores funding options for a $1.5 million purchase of Pine Island watershed property.

The Lands Trust entered into a purchase and sales agreement with the Hiller family for the 120 acres in March.

The land is valuable to prevent erosion as weather patterns change, as wildlife habitat, for public access to Pine Island Pond, and for historical reasons (the site contains the ruins of a home that belonged to Supreme Court Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.).

Lands Trust representative Mike Huguenin explained to Selectmen on April 9 that the Lands Trust intended to raise funds for the purchase in three ways.

A third would come from private donors, a third from federal and state grant, and a third from the Community Preservation Committee and the town.

On the grants side, the organization planned to apply for the state Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (or LAND) grant, and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NACA).

Then, just this past week, it learned that the Municipal Vulnerabilities Preparedness grants, which previously did not cover land acquisition, now does. This grant has a higher potential value than the other state and federal grants.

The deadline to apply for this grant is April 19, so the Lands Trust asked for permission to jump on the new grant right away.

“We all know what the taxes are like around here. Let’s get as much outside money into this as possible,” Huguenin said.

Board of Selectmen Vice Chair Tyler Macallister asked if a road along the property could be used as a secondary egress to Point Connett in the event of a category one storm.

A previous study had identified the area as a “vulnerability area,” because only one road leads to it said Town Administrator Michael Gagne. 

In other words, “we would basically have Point Connett isolated if [Angelica Avenue] was destroyed,” Gagne said.

Huguenin responded that there are strict protections on how conserved lands could be used, and a 50 foot wide road would likely face resident pushback, but a gravel road to use instead of Angelica Ave if a hurricane is coming would likely not be controversial.