image description
An aerial image of Fairfield Dairy Farm with the area under consideration for an APR marked in red.

Williamstown Nonprofit Seeks CPA Funds for Agricultural Restriction

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation plans to ask the town for Community Preservation Act funds to support an Agricultural Preservation Restriction for a property on Green River Road.
WRLF Executive Director David McGowan was before the Agricultural Commission last week to ask that body for a letter of support for the application he plans to bring to the Community Preservation Committee next month.
Rural Lands is working with the owners of Fairfield Dairy Farm to secure an APR from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture for "approximately 20 acres" McGowan told the commission, which voted unanimously to support the application.
"It's surrounded by APR land that Fairfield Dairy Farm had previously put into an APR," Ag Commission Chair Sarah Gardner said in describing the parcel under consideration. "What's different about this land is it's kind of the missing piece of the puzzle. It's between other APR land."
The APR program "offers to pay farmland owners the difference between the 'fair market value' and the 'agricultural value' of their farms in exchange for a permanent deed restriction which prevents any use of the property that will negatively impact its future agricultural viability," according to the MDAR website.
The program requires a local match added to the state contribution. In Williamstown's case, the local match would be a minimum of 10 percent, McGowan said.
Gardner told her colleagues that the commonwealth believes the soil on the Galusha family's farm is especially worth protecting.
"In my conversation with MDAR, I learned it normally pays $10,000 per acre for agricultural land, but in this instance they doubled that because they believe it's important," Gardner said. "The soils are important agricultural soils, and they think it's an important piece of the overall farm, which is the biggest farm in Williamstown."
McGowan confirmed that the state agency agreed to raise its normal cap of $10,000. But he noted that even at the higher cap of $20,000, along with the local contribution, the farm would be selling its land for less than it could get on the market.
"Williamstown qualifies for a 10 percent match … but even if the town put in 20 percent, there would still be a gap," McGowan said.
Gardner said the Galusha family is willing to make a sacrifice to ensure that the rich soil, currently used for forage, stays in agriculture.
"Either way, the seller is taking a financial hit," Gardner said. "They want the farmland to be preserved. I really think of it as a community service, in a way. It's looking toward the future, and it's in the common good.
"[APRs are] about preserving the resource for the future. It's not about any particular farm or any farmer. It's preserving the soil resource. They'll only do APRs on prime ag soil. That is why MDAR is willing to spend so much money on this."
McGowan declined to say what the land was appraised at or how much WRLF will be seeking from CPA funds. But based on the rough numbers he gave -- 20 acres, $20,000 per acre from the commonwealth and a 10 percent local match -- the application for town funds would be about $40,000.
The Community Preservation Committee is the gatekeeper which reviews applications for CPA funds and makes recommendations to town meeting for approval in the spring. McGowan said he plans to take advantage of one of the committee's pre-application meetings, which potential applicants can schedule on Dec. 10, 11 or 14, to discuss the APR project.
According to the Community Preservation Act, funds can be used for certain purposes: community housing, historic preservation and open space and recreation. Rural Lands' APR proposal would fall under the open space provision of the act.
The CPC expects the town to have about $324,000 to fund projects in the fiscal 2022 cycle (town meeting May 2021). One of the committee's regular applicants, the town's Affordable Housing Trust, already has expressed an intention to apply for $175,000 in new funding.

Tags: agricultural restriction,   CPA,   

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Williams College Announces Tenure for Eight Faculty Members

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Board of Trustees of Williams College voted to promote eight faculty to the position of associate professor with tenure.

Promotions will take effect July 1, 2021, for Jeremy Cone, psychology; Christine DeLucia, history; Matthew Gibson, economics; Lama Nassif, comparative literature; Christina Simko, sociology; Owen Thompson, economics; Emily Vasiliauskas, English; and Zachary Wadsworth, music.

Jeremy Cone, psychology

Cone is a social psychologist whose research explores how attitudes are formed unconsciously. His research has demonstrated that these implicit evaluations are far less indelible than was once believed, challenging conventional thinking in this field. He has published widely in top journals, such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Psychological Science and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, including a number of works co-authored with his students. He has given talks and presentations in the U.S. and abroad, and he was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition, where he spoke about the nature of gossip and its connection to believability and its role in implicit impression revision. Cone earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University. Before joining the faculty at Williams, he was a post-doctoral associate at Yale University. He currently serves on the Faculty Steering Committee.

Christine DeLucia, history

DeLucia's areas of interest include early American history, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and material culture. Her first book, Memory Lands: King Philip's War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast (Yale University Press, 2018), received the New England American Studies Association's Lois P. Rudnick Book Prize and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians book award, among others. She has published widely in top journals, including the Journal of American History, William and Mary Quarterly, Early American Studies, Los Angeles Review of Books. She recently held a fellowship at the Newberry Library in Chicago to work on her second book, a study of Native American, African American, and colonial relationships in the Northeast in the period before, during, and after the American Revolution. DeLucia earned her Ph.D. from Yale University. Before coming to Williams, she taught at Mount Holyoke College. At Williams, she has taught the seminars From Wampum to Phillis Wheatley: Communications in Early America and The Afterlives of Objects: Telling American Histories through Material Culture and Museums. She currently serves on the Committee on Diversity and Community.

Matthew Gibson, economics

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