Lt. Gov. Jane Swift, Environmental Affairs Secretary Robert Durand and MIT Treasurer Allan Bufferd made it official last Saturday -- 520 acres of open space were placed under a permanent agricultural preservation and conservation restriction granted by MIT to the Essex County Greenbelt Association and accepted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
These grants by MIT will permanently protect the land from development. This is one of the largest single conservation restrictions in Massachusetts.
They were joined by Essex County Greenbelt Association Chair Ed Becker and Topsfield Board of Selectmen Chair Janet Kmetz in a special signing ceremony on the terrace of Coolidge House in Topsfield. Two other Topsfield selectmen, Joseph Iarocci and Steven Clark, also attended the ceremony.
The land is part of the property left to MIT by William A. Coolidge, a former longtime member of the Corporation. Another part of the property, Wheatlands Hill ("Sledding Hill"), was donated to the town in 1997.
"Mr. Coolidge loved this land," said Mr. Bufferd. "At MIT, we were always aware of Mr. Coolidge's concern for the environment. By placing conservation restrictions on these parcels, the land will now forever remain as open space, which certainly is in the keeping with the wishes of our great benefactor, Mr. Coolidge."
Mr. Bufferd thanked several people for playing key roles in developing the agreement, among them Senior Vice President Emeritus William Dickson and former Director of Real Estate Philip Trussell of MIT, and Mr. Coolidge's niece, Catherine Lastavica.
"I would also like to express a special thanks to George Ames and John Cole for the steady care they have given this property over the years," Mr. Bufferd said.
"Preserving land allows us to guarantee the preservation of natural resources and habitats in the Commonwealth," said Lt. Gov. Swift. "Through the generosity of MIT, this piece of property will be preserved for open space and agricultural uses."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 20, 1999.