Hurd Deal Seen By Year End

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Sunday, September 12, 2004

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON - Selectmen would like to see the purchase of the easement on the Hurd farm finalized by the end of the year.

That was the message they gave Julie Iffland of the Land for Public Trust at last week's Board of Selectmen meeting.

In March, Hampton voters approved the expenditure of up to $3 million to protect 160 acres of open land by purchasing a conservation easement on the Hurd farm, which has been owned by the Hurd family since the 1920s.

To help it obtain grant money and finalize the deal with the Hurd family, the town teamed up with the Land for Public Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land for public use.

Although the deal received the town's approval in March, it has yet to be finalized.

Iffland said the reason the deal hasn't been signed is because the trust is still working to finalize the grants and other issues.

"We have been working hard to pull all the many pieces together," she said.

Selectman Cliff Pratt asked why it's taking so long.

"I had a conversation with the Hurds a month ago and I did feel some anxiety from them about the process," said Pratt. "I don't understand why the process hasn't moved on a little quicker."

Iffland had said the trust didn't have a precise closing date in mind, but she estimated that the deal would be finalized sometime between January and March of 2005.

After speaking with the selectmen last week, Iffland said the trust is hoping to get it done by December.

"There are some details that may be an issue," she said. "But right now I see a path to getting this done by the end of the year."

One reason the selectmen would like to see the deal finalized is so the town can bond for it before it begins a new budget cycle.

"The town has a $3 million bond out there," said Pratt. "We are starting next year's budget, and we don't want to carry this forward into next year's budget."

"We don't want to prepare a Town Meeting if we haven't spent the money that the voters went for last year," said Selectman Ginny Bridle.

Town Manager James Barrington said the town will bond for project in late 2004.

Any grants received after that will be used to pay off the bond.