The Eager property is entirely wooded, containing a mix of maple, oak and white pine in the canopy. The majority of the land is dominated by hardwoods, with pine mixed in, except for an area in the southwest of the property. This is part of a large white pine stand that runs north to south along the land’s western boundary. The Eager land is entirely dry, with extensive frontage on Ball Hill Road, and has a varied, gently sloping terrain with rocky soils. Thick patches of mountain laurel are scattered throughout the property, which is generally free of invasive species.
The property abuts Town of Berlin and Town of Boylston Conservation land, and touches corners with SVT’s Wrack Meadow Reservation. The entire property is within a BioMap2 designated “Critical Natural Landscape” (CNL) that is associated with a nearby “Core Habitat Forest Core”. The Core runs north-south along the Pisgah Ridge, and the CNL encompasses much of the land contained by Lyman and Linden Streets in Berlin, Howard and Green Streets in Northborough, and Rocky Pond, Linden and Green Streets in Boylston.
The Town of Berlin approached SVT in the fall of 2010 to request assistance with a bargain sale transaction. Mr. Eager wished to sell the property to the Town for $400,000 for conservation purposes. This number was considered by Town officials to be far below the market value, and the transaction was considered a less-than-fair-market-value sale.
The Town entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Mr. Eager as a precursor to signing a Purchase and Sale. They also contracted with SVT, by means of an MOU, to assist with the transaction, including applying for a state grant on behalf of the Town. It was anticipated that SVT would hold a CR over the property once the Town had acquired it.
The Town agreed to the payment to Mr. Eager of a $150,000 penalty if they were unable to close with him by the end of December, 2011. Given typical state grant timelines, this seemed adequate. However, grant announcements were made extremely late in 2011, and because the Town would have forfeited its award of $233,682 by closing before a grant contract with the state had been executed, SVT agreed to step in to purchase the property, using its land protection revolving fund to finance the purchase. SVT purchased the property from Mr. Eager on December 20, 2011.
Gathering the necessary paperwork to then resell the property to the Town took some time, but closing finally took place on May 31, 2012, at which time the ownership of the property was transferred to the Town, with SVT retaining a conservation restriction. The Eager property is open to the public, accessible from a small parking area located off Ball Hill Road.
As always, SVT is so appreciative of our local partners, without whom this work would not be possible. Our thanks go to Mr. Eager for his generosity in selling the land for a reduced price, and to the many Town officials, employees, and volunteers who helped this project come together, particularly Conservation Commission Chair, Skip Duggan, who was critical to the effort and cheerful throughout.