After DEM grant, Gold renews calls to purchase his land

After DEM grant, Gold renews calls to purchase his land

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Town Administrator Gary Ezovski says he expects a $400,000 open space grant award announced by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management last Friday will renew conversation about buying the “Gold Forest,” a 144-acre property on Tarkiln Pond and Douglas Pike.

But Ezovski said Tuesday that despite the grant award, the asking price for the property “will have to change substantially to gain my interest.” He said the grant is an incentive, but the “purchase price will be the ultimate qualifier.”

The Town Council last October rejected a proposal to buy the Gold property for hiking and other recreation uses. Though they said the purchase price of $1.9 million was too high, they said they weren’t permanently rejecting the idea.

Property owner David Gold, who has been trying to sell his property to the town for at least the past decade, has renewed his call for town officials to follow the mandate passed by voters with a $3 million open space and recreation bond in 2007 and spend the money. He noted in an email that former Town Administrator Robert Lowe sought to purchase the property a price of $2.7 million, with $250,000 of that coming from a RIDEM contribution.

“The town has a complete file on the 2008 go-round as a great resource in proceeding with less expenses this go-round,” wrote Gold.

Gold said the price to the town today would be much reduced, at $1.55 million after the grant contribution, rather than the $2.45 million asking price in 2008.

According to the grant award, RIDEM sees the property as representing “an interesting diversity of habitats and historic resources,” a site of “an impressive piggery ruin dating back to the 1800s – once New England’s largest.”

Adds a RIDEM news release, “Open fields, pond frontage, and upland forest create a diverse array of habitats while a series of well-maintained trails make this property ideal for public recreational opportunities.”