Hampshire Gazette, May 16, 1970

OUTLINE FOR RECREATION AREA GIVEN BY PARK SERVICE AIDE

AMHERST - Preliminary concept plans for the Mount Holyoke unit of the proposed Connecticut River Recreation Area were presented last night to the project's Citizenís Advisory Committee.
Representatives from the National Park Service showed a plan to develop about 9 per cent of the proposed unit's area. leaving the remainder of the land in its natural state.
The park representative's plans include three "initial contact points" where persons may enter the park. The major contact would be for people coming from the south and would be located in the vicinity of Aldrich Lake in the Granby-South Hadley area. This area would have facilities for picnicking and swimming and would give persons arriving by car access to a road inside the park just within its perimeter.
The eastern third of the park will have a camping area and trailhead and picnic area.

Proposed Addition

Almost directly north of the southern contact point, but on the opposite side of the park (off Bay Road in the area of Middle St) there is another initial contact point for persons arriving from the north.
This contact point is expected to be coordinated with state plans for a road through n proposed state addition to the park.
A present Amherst College ski slope west of the north contact point will be used for winter sports-tobogganing, sledding and beginning skiing.
A canoe camp is planned for the area where the Fort River joins the Connecticut, at Hockanum In Hadley.
A tramway is being considered for transportation of persons from the Skinner State Park area in Hadley to the top of the mountain range, where their might be a restaurant, an information area and trailheads.
An existing marina on the east side of the river will remain with the present owner possibly remaining to operate the facility on a concession basis within federal regulations.
Another marina is being considered for the west side of the river, south of the existing marina.

May Be Swimming

If pollution problems in the river are solved, there will be a swimming area in the river.
In the southwest corner of the park, but on the east side of the river, another access point is planned.
The southern area of the park will have areas for group camping and family camping.
Under present plans, Route 116 In the Notch area of Amherst- South Hadley will be closed or an underpass or overpass built, and a south road across the mountain would probably close and other access provided for homeowners.
Insofar as possible borders of the park were drawn several hundred feet behind backyards of houses around the perimeter of the park but about 100 homes still lie within the park as presently conceived.
Lemuel Garrison, the director of the Northeast Region of the National Park Service, said that a clause in one bill which allows government to take all of a property if part lies within the park, was primarily for the convenience of people who do not wish to serve their property.
This would, in effect, allow the property owner to sell all of his property instead of just a part if he so desired.

Try To Negotiate

George Sandberg, a federal expert on land acquisition questions said, however, that the federal government would try, in most cases, to negotiate with the property owners for the entire parcel if part was within the park.
The reason for this, he said, was to keep costs down per acre to the federal government.
If a property is divided, he said, the property owner is paid for the land taken and a severance fee to compensate for the drop in value of the remaining portion.
In many cases, he said, the government must pay three-quarters of the value of a property to acquire less than half of that property because of the severance fee.
He explained that property owners can be paid as much as 80 per cent of the value of their properly for a "scenic easement," where the property owner is allowed to keep his land as long as he agrees to use it only for what it is now being used-- in effect preventing development of the property.
In a "lease-back" arrangement, a property owner would be paid for his property and could elect to remain on it for a predetermined time up to 25 years.
One percent of the value of the property would he deducted from the purchase price for every year that the owner elected to stay on the property.

Until His Death

In a life tenancy arrangement, the owner at the time of the sale to the federal Government can remain on the property until his death and the death of his spouse.
In the "lease-back" arrangement, the property owner is required to maintain the property, use it only for non-commercial residential purposes, and have an extended fire and risk insurance policy.
Janet Dakln, chairman of the Amherst Conservation Commission, told the Park Service representative that she felt they had "missed a great opportunity by not having an initial contact point in the area of the Notch quarry.
The area would be excellent, she said for a trailside museum at the trap rock quarry and a restaurant and trailhead.
"I would restore Route 116 as the main access to the park," she said.
Mrs. Dakin also pointed out that the contact point for persons coming from the south would come into the area of the home of the areaís biggest landowner, who has said he is in favor of the but would like to remain in his home.
She also said that there should be some way for persons to be able to allow their children to inherit their property.

Too Small

A Park Service planner said he fell that the road was too small for the planned use and that traffic would work hardships on people living in the area. He said that he was not aware that the Strategic Air Command facility in the Notch area was being deactivated and might be available for park use.
Joseph Niquette, representative from Holyoke, said that his city would like to see facilities for swimming, boating, picnicking, and parking on the west side of the river, but the Park Service planner said he was not sure there was enough room on the parcel on the west side of the river for all these activities. Raymond Kostek, representative from Hadley, asked lf there had ever been reimbursement to a town for loss of taxes.
The Park official said that this had happened in only one instance and then on a decreasing scale.
He asked that a watershed on a discovered but as yet undeveloped water supply within the park be left in its natural state, as is being done with a South Hadley watershed that lies within the park.
Marie Quirk, representing a group of Granby homeowners. said that Granby property owners would probably want to negotiate boundaries.

Handle Traffic

Questions were raised by several committee members as to how the park service planned to handle the traffic and protect adjacent homeowners from the 16,000 people per day that are expected to visit the park when it is completed, but Park Service representatives said details would be worked out later as plans became more specific.
It was stressed that these plans are only a concept of what the completed master plan will be and are very much open to change at this point.
Several members of the committee asked that Park Service representatives meet with respective groups before a hearing to be held on May 22, or that a preliminary map of the park be released to the press so that townspeople will have an opportunity to learn of the park service plans before the hearing.
Other committee members objected to the release of the map to the press because some readers might feel that this is a final plan and not subject change, which is not the case.
A vote was taken, and members voted 6-3 not to release the map.

Express Concern

Committee members expressed concern that there would be no explanation of the Park Service plans for the recreation area at the hearing to be held Saturday at 9 a.m. probably at the South Hadley high school auditorium.
The hearing has been called for the benefit of a senate National Park subcommittee and Senator Alan Bible, chairman of the subcommittee; Senator Abraham Ribicoff and Senator Edward Kennedy are expected to attend the hearing.
Committee members also expressed concern that they have not really enough time to react to the Park Service plan to make a statement at a public hearing.
Chairman John Olver, appointed a subcommittee of Mrs. Dakin, Mrs. Quirk and Richard Thayer, a representative of the Hadley Homestead Preservation Committee, to prepare a statement for the public hearing.
The advisory committee will meet again on June 3.