The Aquidneck Land Trust released the following announcement Thursday in a press release:
The town of Portsmouth awarded a $300,000 grant to the Aquidneck Land Trust’s (ALT) Campaign to Save the St. Mary’s Church Land on Tuesday.
On May 25, ALT, St. Mary’s Church and trustees of the Sarah Gibbs Trust signed an Option Agreement that gives ALT until May 24, 2013 to raise $3 million to conserve about 70 critical open space acres of the St. Mary’s Church land between East Main Road and the St. Mary’s Pond Reservoir in Portsmouth.
“We give the Portsmouth Town Council and the Portsmouth Open Space Committee a standing ovation for their leadership, vision and for their honoring of the voters’ wishes clearly expressed in the robust passage of Portsmouth’s 2007 open space bond. It is a true honor to work with them on protecting the island’s remaining green infrastructure such as the St. Mary’s Church land,” said Ted Clement, ALT executive director.
With this grant award from the town of Portsmouth, ALT has raised a little more than $2 million in grant awards and cash against the $3 million goal.
Since Portsmouth voters approved the open space bond in 2007, ALT and the town of Portsmouth have worked together on conserving about 124.38 acres of Swan Farm in 2008, about 126.37 acres of Green Valley Golf Course in 2009; about 37.59 acres of Wicks Nursery in 2011 and now the St. Mary’s project.
The proposed approximate 70-acre St. Mary’s Church conservation area is strategic from a conservation perspective. Pursuant to the town of Portsmouth’s 2002 Local Recreation, Conservation and Open Space Plan, the subject land is located within a Town of Portsmouth designated Open Space and Active Agriculture Area, Resource Protection Overlay District Area and Greenways Plan Area.
The St. Mary’s Church land is located next to a number of previously conserved parcels within ALT’s Center Island Greenway thereby building upon and enhancing this past conservation work. The land also falls within the St. Mary’s Pond Watershed, directly abutting the St. Mary’s Pond Reservoir area with more than 1,000 ft. of frontage on the reservoir property.