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A Bit of GWLT History: Parson’s Cider Mill

September 5, 2000:

Four years after the recording of the adjacent Marois 28 deed, and more than four years after the City first purchased the 43.08 acres of Parson’s Cider Mill, the Conservation Restriction to the Greater Worcester Land Trust was finally recorded. This required special “home-rule” legislation from the Massachusetts state legislature.

Parson’s Cider Mill is one of the original Worcester “Open Space Top Ten” list properties. The property itself was significant as the former site of a cider press in Worcester. It features an ornamental pond and plantings, an old retired City of Worcester Reservoir, a red pine stand, a cart road, and a brook flowing across the site. Unfortunately, the ornamental stonework wall just off of Apricot Drive has since been demolished by the City of Worcester DPW in a project to address dam safety concerns.

On a more positive note, the site itself has also become the home of a memorial to former neighborhood resident Dr. Robert Goddard, the father of American rocketry. The memorial now stands at the corner of Apricot and Goddard Memorial Drive. The property also hosts a section of the Tetasset Ridge Trail that spans the west side of the City of Worcester.

The preservation effort was a partnership between GWLT and the City of Worcester. Additionally, a state grant was utilized, with federal funding from the National Park Service through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF.) This complex mix of partners and government agencies made for a complex set of requirements.

As this was the first joint preservation project using such a state grant, a small glitch occurred in the Council approval votes, and instead of the purchase of the property being where the story ends it became where the story begins. The state wanted the CR recorded before the transfer occurred and instead the property was transferred to the City before the CR was recorded. The chain of records meant that GWLT could not be given a CR on the property without special legislation as it would constitute a change of use. This special legislation needed to go through a complex approval process meant to dissuade municipalities from converting open space to another use, but in this case it became a burden to the project partners to protecting it further.

The assistance of multiple legislators, numerous phone calls, many letters, and a mix of patience and impatience, finally resulted in the CR that ensures that this property remains a municipal open space for all time.

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