Private Non-Profit Land Trust Formed

by Allen Fletcher

The RECORD, Fall 1987, p. 3

Seeking to fill a void in an arena in which the Worcester area’s land use is determined, the Greater Worcester Land Trust has recently been formed. Thus far we have only optimism to report: Good chemistry, favorable community response, and grand plans. We have listened with amusement to rumors of our own existence, and to those who ask we can only say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Our goal is quite simply the preservation of quality open space in the Greater Worcester area, with the idea that if someone doesn’t attend to it it will go away. The city has been blessed with the legacy of the forward-looking parks movement of a century ago; and the region as a whole has been blessed with large reserves of undeveloped areas–forest, farmland, and simply vacant land. Now, with development transforming both urban and rural land at an unprecedented pace, it is apparent that the old park system is simply not enough. If we want to see a healthy mix of land uses in Greater Worcester’s future–one where urban values are complemented and intensified by significant natural preserves–we have to attend to the problem now.

The idea of a land trust is new only to Worcester. It is a device that has been used throughout New England and the United States to enable the private sector to stake out a position in the transformation of the landscape. Land trusts can typically move more quickly than municipalities in the land use arena, and once they have established credibility they can provide landowners with a significant alternative in the disposition of their land. We intend to work through outright acquisition, conservation easement, acceptance of gifts, political lobbying, limited development, pursuit of grants and any other means at our disposal to try to influence the shape of Worcester’s future. We hope to work closely with neighborhood groups, municipal government and state agencies in our projects.

We will need money and will soon be pounding the pavement of Greater Worcester looking for it. We have filed for non-profit status and formed a relationship with the Greater Worcester Community Foundation for the purposes of fund-raising.

We have also formed an advisory board to help keep us on track and establish credibility among the people of Greater Worcester.

We are optimistic and impatient. We feel that with the blessing and support of people such as REC’s constituency we will be able to play a meaningful role in the future of the area.

Our directors are the following: Robert Bertin; Deborah Cary; George Dresser; Dennis Ducsik; Allen Fletcher (President); Brian Nickerson; Evelyn Silver; and Phil Truesdell. Our advisory board includes: Richard C. Steele; Bronson Fargo; Henry B. Dewey; Fairman Cowan; William Whipple; Valentin (Sid) Callahan; Katherine Hodgson; Richard Prouty; Sally Pettit; City Councilors John B. Anderson and Joseph M. Tinsley; Parks & Recreation Director Tom W. Taylor; and Joseph McGinn, former chairman of the Worcester Conservation Commission.