Can Salamanders read?
The i's have been dotted and the t's crossed (in triplicate) as the town on Wednesday received both by certified mail and delivery in hand the official notice of intent to remove property in northeast Amherst from Chapter 61 conservation for the whopping sale price of $6.5 million.
Yes THAT property off Henry Street -- the one that has aroused the fires of indignation from nearby residents in the historic village of Cushman and a few more from all over Amherst and a surrounding town or two.
The town of Amherst, upon receipt of the documents, has two deadlines: 30 days to question the notification process as flawed, and then another 90 days (assuming the paperwork is in order) to decide if they wish to invoke the "right of first refusal", or pass it on to another non profit land trust.
Either way, an intercepting entity would need to match the current offer of $6.5 million. Yes, dollars.
Kind of like the epic blunder the town made 25 years ago taking by eminent domain the Cherry Hill Golf Course in North Amherst, costing taxpayers $2.2 million. The largest land "purchase" in town history, and to the best of my knowledge the last time the town has wielded the potent power of eminent domain. What some might refer to as "the nuclear option."
Adjusting for inflation the cost of Cherry Hill today would be $4.4 million, still a far cry from the $6.5 million cost of taking the 154 acres of woodland currently owned by the largest private landlowner in Massachusetts, W.D. Cowls, Inc.
And that of course does not include the legal bills resulting from a crossfire of attorneys from two major corporations.
This is one battle the town doesn't need: sound the retreat!