Hampshire Gazette, December 12, 1969

Requested By Hockanum Residents



The Department of the Interior has granted the major request of many Hockanum residents said Atty. John M. Callahan who is representing them before [the] Bureau of Outdoor Recreation on the proposed Connecticut River Valley Recreation Area.

The Department has agreed to develop a Master Plan for the area, hopefully with consultation on the matter with local residents, Callahan said.
The Mt. Holyoke Unit, as the proposed recreation area near Northampton is called, would encompass some 12,000 acres surrounding Skinner State Park on Mt. Holyoke.

The proposal outlines a broad area that would front the Connecticut River for 4 1/2 miles and would extend east about 9 miles. It would also include a 200 foot wide strip on land on the west bank of the river, say present BOR plans.

Avoid Pitfalls

Callahan's group had asked for the Master Plan to avoid several pitfalls which would arise without one.

Among the problems mentioned by Atty. Callahan was the distinct possibility that the cost of land acquisition within the park area alone would run well over $42,000 committed to it by the federal government.

If this happened, said Callahan, many residents would not receive the value of their land with the possibility of several years waiting for reimbursement.

Another problem in the proposed legislation is that although the plans allow special provisions for farmers in the area, they do not ensure their protection.

The Master Plan, said Callahan, should spell out precisely what the recreation potential of the facility would be and the exact procedures to be followed in the area's development.

Hope for Detail

Callahan hopes that the Master Plan will be detailed enough regarding the land acquisition costs so that Congress will be able to appropriate a sufficient amount of money to meet them.

Another problem he hopes will be dealt with in the Master Plan is the need of reimbursement to surrounding towns for tax losses resulting from the removal park lands from the taxable real estate of the towns.
Until the bill dealing with recreation area is substantially amended, he said, to assure home and farm owners will be treated fairly, my clients will remain upset about the prospect of the park.

Callahan does see the approval of the "Master Plan" idea as a step in the right direction.

"I anticipate that Sens. Brooke and Kennedy and U.S. Reps. Conte and Boland will do everything they can to improve the bill and add protection for local residents and towns," Callahan said.

Local hearings on the bill proposing the park to be conducted by the Senate Committee on National Parks, which were to be held in October, were called off when the Nixon Administration cracked down on expenditures this year.

These local hearings have been rescheduled for late next spring, said Callahan.

Callahan commented, "This is the first time they have proposed to develop a Master Plan for a recreation area before the area is actually authorized".



Hampshire Gazette, December 16


The proposed Connecticut River Valley Recreation Area of which the Mt. Holyoke section is a part, has been postponed indefinitely by the National Park Service, it was announced today by Congressman Silvio O. Conte.

The NPS cited budgetary considerations as the reason for the delay in plans which would include some 12,000 acres surrounding Skinner State Park on Mt. Holyoke. The House Interior Committee said that no hearings on the bill would be held in the near future because of the postponement.

Conte, at the request of a group of Hockanum residents whose land would be affected by the proposed park, has been pushing for the development of a master plan for the area before any funds for purchase of land would be forthcoming.

Work on this master plan will continue and it will be put together in consultation with local people, according to Conte.

State Rep. John W. Olver of Amherst has announced that a local advisory committee, will be formed in the near future to aid In the development of the master plan. He will be writing various local groups and town or city governments to inform them.

Friday, Olver said that those residents interested in serving on the Advisory Committee should write to Commissioner Arthur Brownell of the Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources at the State Office Building In Boston.