By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, March 10, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Photo by Jamie Cohen]
HAMPTON -- Conservation Commission Chairwoman Ellen Goethel hopes the town's past generosity toward conservation spills over into the commission's newest venture.
Warrant Article 40 asks voters to allocate $100,000 toward the purchase of 14 acres of land on Woodland Road that surrounds the historical Lamprey Ice Pond.
"We didn't want to come to the town for any more money this year knowing that we have all been tightening our belts," Goethel said. "But this piece of property is so critical to the integrity of the wildlife corridor and history of our town that we could not in good conscience let it slide by."
The Conservation Commission has already earmarked $150,000 for the purchase and has applied for $100,000 in additional grants.
But without the extra money from the town, the purchase may not happen.
The commission is in negotiations with the property owner and if the town doesn't buy the land, it could be developed. Goethel said that could affect both wildlife and the watershed in Hampton.
Goethel said the Ice Pond is a part of the significant watershed that connects all of Hampton. The watershed includes Nilus Brook, which flows from 12 Share, through the Ice Pond, to the Great Meadow, Mill Pond, Meadow Pond and into the Salt Marsh.
If the Ice Pond was polluted as a result of increased development, it would damage much more than the pond itself, Goethel said.
Wildlife that can be spotted in the area includes fish, frogs, ducks, birds, raccoons, deer and other animals.
The owner has already been granted permission by the Planning Board to subdivide the current two lots into three buildable lots.
Goethel said the purchase will not only protect the environment, but is consistent with the town's master plan that calls for a town forest in the area.
The purchase of the land would combine with other open space currently owned by town for a total of 25 contiguous acres of land that would stretch from 12 Share near White's Lane to the edge of the Great Meadow, just east of Woodland Road.
Goethel said the land would be open for hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The Ice Pond itself would be available for ice skating and fishing.
Goethel said the Ice Pond has historical significance to the town.
"The name of the pond comes from the fact that it was one of the locations from which ice was harvested, in the day before electric refrigeration," Goethel said.
Restaurants, hotels, and homes of Hampton would all get their ice from the pond.
In the winter, ice from the pond was cut into blocks and then stored in ice houses, layered and covered with hay or sawdust for insulation.
The pond was used for ice from the late 1800s until 1963, when Eugene Levitt's ice house was destroyed by fire.
"According to a resident, the foundation of Mr. Levitt's ice house still remains below the surface of the pond," Goethel said.