SKLT is very near to closing on the development rights on the 40 acre Whaley Farm on Jerry Brown Farm Road. We’ve exceeded our goal of $75,000 raised from private individuals, thanks to a major gift by Christopher Gaffney and Karen Kames. Gifts were received from 80 people, totaling over $118,000. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed! After closing, we’ll celebrate!
In addition to private donations, SKLT received a $5,000 legislative grant from Representative Kathy Fogarty for the Whaley Farm. Last but not least, at the end of May, the South Kingstown Town Council voted to approve a grant from the Town Open Space Bond fund to finish the fundraising needed for the purchase, up to $85,000. Early funding commitments by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the RI Agricultural Land Preservation Commission (ALPC), and the 1772 Foundation led the way in protecting this farm. The landowners also contributed by agreeing to a bargain sale for the development rights. The Whaleys will continue to own and operate the farm into the future – nothing will change except that the land will never be developed.
Earlier this year, on March 23rd, SKLT closed on the purchase of the development rights on 61 acres of forest, wetlands and former farm land on Liberty Lane in West Kingston. SKLT thanks the RI ALPC for their contribution of funds for the purchase. The protection of this land is strategically important because it abuts the largest natural wildlife habitat area in our town, the Great Swamp Management Area, owned by RI Department of Environmental Management. The Great Swamp is over 2500 acres in size, holds the state’s largest freshwater pond and provides habitat to many species. We are very pleased to add contiguous protected land to this large preserved complex.
Some people wonder how much protected land is enough in our town. From a broad perspective, consider that the projected buildout analysis done by the Town estimates that our town’s population and building units could increase by 38%, based on available buildable land. An analysis could examine whether that amount of growth would strain our roads, water supplies, schools and other infrastructure, in addition to changing the ‘sense of place’ in town. Looking at the same question from a different perspective, we at SKLT aim to continue to protect important natural and agricultural land when it’s the right time for the landowner, whenever that might be.