Potential Ashfield housing development threatens local charm

Aerial view of Edge Hill in Ashfield

Ashfield Massachusetts is home to a vibrant, warmhearted community that has made the village a cradle of creativity. Visitors admire Ashfield for its authenticity, classic New England architecture, and natural beauty. Anyone who lives there or visits often is familiar with Edge Hill Golf Course, once a working dairy farm and now a picturesque golfing location.

Edge Hill isn’t just a great place to golf. It’s a thriving habitat for wildlife. Turtles lay their eggs in the sandy areas of the golf course during the warmest months of the year and the hatchlings take their first steps on its verdant grass as summer fades into fall. Edge Hill acts as a safe harbor for migratory birds, and townspeople frequently report seeing deer graze there on misty early mornings.

As some of you may already know Franklin Land Trust has begun raising funds to purchase a conservation restriction or fee ownership of Edge Hill. And we’ve got news to share, good and bad.

The good news is that we are 75% of the way to reaching our goal. The bad news is that Edge Hill’s conservation is by no means inevitable. We are on track for success, but still have a ways to go before our donation target is hit.

We may be looking at a dramatically altered Ashfield in the near future. A recent appraisal showed that 17 houses could be built there should the property be developed and one thing we know for certain is that these buildings will not share the town’s historic appearance. Ashfield residents could soon be dealing with the reality of a major housing development, with all of the noise and light pollution that will come with a new neighborhood springing up in the middle of town.

The property is adjacent to protected areas, including 40 acres immediately abutting the golf course to the east which FLT conserved just last year. If Edge Hill is developed it will reduce the mobility of wildlife that can currently cross with ease between the adjoining pieces of conservation land, altering the biodiversity of the area. To date, the Bear River region has seen 18 properties placed in permanent conservation protection totaling over 975 acres.

If we can raise the funds necessary to conserve this land, it will be protected for generations to come. This isn’t about kicking the can down the road or merely postponing the inevitable. This is about putting fears of Edge Hill’s development to rest for good!

We can still reach that goal! But only with your help. Donate today to keep Ashfield historic!