Group Saves 593 Acres Near Brattleboro From Development

A local group of volunteers on March 31 used public and private funds to buy 593 acres of forestland near Brattleboro. The group then gave the land to the town of Marlboro, Vermont so the land can be protected from development forever. The cost of saving Hogback Mountain was $1.7 million.

“We're thrilled,” said Bob Anderson of the Hogback Mountain Conservation Association www.hogback.org

New Amherst Group Seeks to Aid Public Schools, Save Open Space

A group of Amherst residents is gathering signatures on a petition that would have the town spend more on public schools, open space protection, and other items. The petition supports a so-called "proposition 2½ override."

"When the roof is leaking you fix it to protect your home," Andrew Churchill told The Valley Post. Churchill is a supporter of the petition drive and assistant director of the UMass Amherst Center for Education Policy. He said recent cuts to the town budget have resulted in a situation like a leaky roof on a house.

Thousand Acres in Keene Saved

In Keene, the 1,044 acre Greater Goose Pond Forest has been protected from development. The land is owned by the city and had been vulnerable to being paved. The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests this month permanently protected the Keene forest, which includes a pond, streams, and wetlands.

“This was the work of many people, from the Greater Goose Pond land management committee to the Keene city council that adopted the committee’s recommendations,” said Eloise Clark of the Keene Conservation Commission.

High-Density Housing Looking for a Home in Amherst

In the last few weeks, a housing developer from Columbus, Ohio has approached residents in an area south of the UMass Amherst campus about buying parcels of land on Sunset Avenue for the construction of student housing. Despite a rising need for such high-density, space-efficient housing stemming from the university’s large student population and long-term plans to continue expanding its student enrollment in the coming years, the project has faced criticism from some homeowners in the area.

Vermont Governor Opposes Health Care, Cuts Environment Protection

On June 24, Vermont governor Jim Douglas personally lobbied President Obama to reject universal health care. “This governor does not represent the wishes of the people of Vermont,” said Richard Davis, director of the Guilford, Vermont-based www.universalhealthvt.org Guilford borders Brattleboro.

Meanwhile, the Burlington Free Press newspaper reported that the number of people working at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is down almost 10 percent over the last six months. Douglas eliminated 58 jobs in the agency. That number includes 11 people laid off between June 22 and June 24.

Pro-Big Box Greenfield Mayor Voted Out

A major goal of Greenfield Mayor Christine Forgey has been to build a Wal-Mart or a similar “big box” store on an area of open land that’s too far from downtown to easily reach on foot. On April 21, in a primary election, Forgey was voted out of office. In June, voters will choose from two candidates for mayor.

“I was glad the mayor was voted out,” said John Ward, co-owner of the Solar Store www.GreenfieldSolarStore.com on Fiske Avenue in downtown Greenfield. “Open space doesn’t have to be paved just because it’s open space.”

A Place for Open Space

In 1960, there were about 11,000 houses and apartments in Windham county, which includes Brattleboro. By 2000, that number had more than doubled to reach 27,000. Similar growth has happened throughout the Valley.