Greenfield residents seek to donate combined 32 acres to city for conservation

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-15-2024 5:31 PM

GREENFIELD — The city might receive three parcels of conservation land between the Mohawk Trail and Shelburne Road spanning a combined 32 acres in the months ahead, as two residents intend to donate private land to the Conservation Commission.

The Conservation Commission discussed donation requests from residents Daniel Gauley, who wishes to leave 10 acres of land to the city in his will, and Richard Eaton, who plans to donate two adjacent parcels, both spanning roughly 11 acres, at its meeting Tuesday evening.

Commission Chair Travis Drury remarked that Gauley and the commission should consider closing on the donation while Gauley is alive, stipulating conditions in which the donor maintains rights to the property for the remainder of his life. Drury said in other communities in which residents have donated land to the municipality, the land returns to his or her heirs in the event that the municipality opts to reject the donation.

“I think there’s a way someone can donate it while they’re alive, but then retain the right to occupy it for the remainder of their lifetime,” Drury explained. “There are other ways of doing these things if [he] wanted to be sure that it was going to go through.”

Drury added that the commission would have to search to see if the parcels have any deed restrictions that might prevent them from being used as conservation land. Commission member Erika LaForme referred to the neighboring parcels as being a “great lot of land” that has previously been used for horseback riding.

Gauley, who said he formerly stayed in a teepee on his lot of land, said he hoped to bring commission members along for a walk through his woods in the weeks ahead.

“My land is a valuable piece of conservation land, and Greenfield has given me a lot — I was educated here, I was raised here,” Gauley said.

For the city to accept the land donations, Conservation Agent Mitchell Vye said the donations must be approved by both the commission and City Council. He said the commission will have to survey the land and do its “due diligence” prior to taking a vote on the donations, but that he hopes the potential donations will be brought before City Council within the next few months.

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Vye added that, should the city accept the donations, the commission would mainly preserve the natural landscapes as they are and prevent future development from taking place there. He said the donations will take some time as Gauley discusses his will with an attorney and Eaton uses his land for purposes related to his logging business.

“It’s been a long time since the Conservation Commission has had new land to manage,” Vye said. “Usually the Conservation Commission just holds it as is and just makes sure they’re not developed, these very large, forested parcels.”

Eaton could not be immediately reached for comment.

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.