Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank executive director James Lengyel describes the 52.2-acre property acquired by the land bank this week as a microcosm of the Vineyard.
The Chappaquiddick land, he said on Tuesday, announcing the agreement which will protect it, “has open fields, rolling hills, wetlands, streams, a beach, long distance views. It’s got just about everything.”
For $3.4 million, the land bank has bought outright 3.2 acres of land from Jane Knight. It also secured a conservation restriction for another 49 acres.
The land, off Jeffers Lane, has 290 feet of frontage on Cape Pogue Pond and abuts 1,157 feet of shoreline already conserved as part of the Three Ponds Reservation, which is now the land bank’s largest property at 312.4 acres.
“There is a summer cottage on the [smaller] property,” Mr. Lengyel said.
“It will stay there and Mrs. Knight has the right to live in the cottage for the term of her life, and then after that the land bank will take possession of the cottage and remove it and undevelop the property.
“The balance is retained by the Knight family, who continue to own it, but it can’t be developed.”
The deal is the latest fruit of a long relationship between the land bank and the Knight family.
“They have worked with the land bank for years,” said Mr. Lengyel. “One of Mrs. Knight’s sons, Richard, was a land bank commissioner more than a decade ago. They have in the past donated trail usage to the land bank.”
An easement to the water was granted by the family some 15 years ago. Another one, part of the cross-Chappaquiddick trail, was donated by the family in 2005.
The arrangement reflected the conservation sentiments of two generations of the Knights.
“My husband and I always felt we’d like to keep as much of the land open as possible, to be enjoyed by everyone,” Mrs. Knight said by telephone this week.
And her son Robert, speaking for her six children, said they had long ago decided the land would be conserved.
“Some years ago, the brothers and sisters got together and decided we didn’t want to break it up and sell it off. The money that we might have got from selling it would be soon squandered and the land would be gone forever,” he said.
The family had explored the possibilities of another conservation restriction, years ago, he said, but had given it up because the conditions were too onerous.
“But the land bank, they’ve been exceedingly good to deal with,” said Robert Knight. “James Lengyel smoothed everything out.”
Mr. Knight said the terms of the deal left open the prospect of farming the land in the future.
Once, about half the property was agricultural land, the other half woods and wetlands. Over recent years, the family has worked to stop the woods encroaching on the open land, which is not now farmed.
“We think the landscape’s nicer when it’s not all just brushy woods but a combination of woods and field,” he said.
“At this point it’s being mowed periodically to keep it open, but it’s part of the conservation restriction that it can be farmed.
“Who knows, maybe one of the grandchildren will decide to farm it. Maybe things will get bad enough in the global economy so raising potatoes on Chappaquiddick will make a lot of sense.”
Five of the six Knight siblings have houses on the property, but they are clustered together on its edge. That, too, was part of the family’s plan to keep the land as open as possible.
“We planned it that way, so they didn’t really impact the land very much,” Mr. Knight said.
In other news from the land bank, new trail maps are also out this week.
The updated maps include many new trails established over the past couple of years. Mr. Lengyel said the maps are still being distributed, but will soon be in all town halls and libraries.