By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, January 2, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON -- The Conservation Commission spent last week trying to finalize a deal by the Dec. 31 deadline to purchase 12½ of the 14½ acres of land on Woodland Road that includes the historical Lamprey Ice Pond.
Ellen Goethel, chairwoman of the Conservation Commission, gave selectmen an update on the negotiations during Thursday night's special selectmen's meeting.
"We have come to a handshake agreement but we still have not signed on the dotted line," Goethel said. "And as you all know, negotiations can always fall through at the last minute."
Goethel said they hoped to have everything wrapped up by Dec. 29 but the results on whether the deal was signed or not was not known by early press time.
Goethel asked the board Thursday night to give Interim Town Manager Mark Gearreald the authority to sign the agreement if one is finalized since the board will not meet again until Jan. 8.
Selectman unanimously voted to put $5,000 in escrow as a down payment and to allow Gearreald to sign the agreement if one is agreed upon.
"We are just working out some last minute details and hope to have it finalized by Friday," Goethel said.
If a deal is not signed by the end of 2006, the commission would lose the $100,000 that was approved at last year's Town Meeting. The only way the town can encumber funds into the new year is if a written purchase agreement is signed.
Goethel said the owner has agreed to sell the land for $240,000, even though it was appraised at $265,000.
The commission has already held a public hearing to allow it to use the $100,000 that was approved at the 2006 Town Meeting and the $150,000 in its conservation fund to complete the purchase of one of the three lots that were for sale.
Goethel said if the purchase is made it will not only protect the environment but is consistent with the town's master plan, which calls for a town forest in the area.
The land purchase would extend contiguous town-owned open space to an area stretching from 12 Shares near White's Lane to the edge of the Great Meadow, just east of Woodland Road.
Goethel said the land could be open for hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hunting. Area wildlife includes fish, frogs, ducks, birds, raccoons, deer and other animals.
The pond will be available for ice skating and fishing. It is a piece of Hampton's history, once home to Eugene Levitt's ice house, which provided ice to residents and beach businesses.