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The South Kingstown Land Trust has made an offer to sell part of one of its parcels of land to the town for the site of an ambulance barn.

The one-acre parcel has no conservation easements and is at the corner of Ministerial Road and Old Post Road. The land trust would sell about half of that to the town for $10,000.

“In many ways this parcel meets every need and concern articulated for an EMS barn,” Land Trust Executive Director Julia Landstreet said. “Located between Matunuck Beach and Green Hill Beach Roads, close to Route 1, clear sight lines in and out a driveway, minimal disruption to neighbors, level terrain and available at a fair price.”

Selling the land, or part of it, to meet a critical community need falls within the trust’s mission, Landstreet said. Land trust staff and board members agreed on that point, she said.

It’s unclear if the town would take the land trust up on that offer.

The Town Council held an executive session closed meeting on Monday to discuss “matters related to the acquisition or lease of real property for public purposes, or of the disposition of publicly held property wherein advanced public information would be detrimental to the interest of the public.”

The town’s EMS has spent the better part of six months on a proposal to construct an EMS garage facility to improve response times to the western part of South Kingstown, from Matunuck and Green Hill to the Charlestown town line.

The EMS department proposed leasing a part of Union Fire District land that’s slated for a new fire station at 49 Matunuck School House Road. The EMS would construct a new building at the site.

That process is moving through the town’s Planning and Zoning boards, and it was after a planning hearing that Landstreet met with town staff to see if the existing site’s footprint could be expanded to part of the Weeden Farm. But the protective covenants of the farm land do not allow it, she said.

“While that is impossible it did spark a collaborative conversation brainstorming potential alternate locations,” she said.

The Land Trust’s proposed site was given to the trust as a gift along with several other sites. The donor didn’t protect the sites with conservation easements, according to Landstreet.

Over the years the Land Trust has leased the parcel for farm uses: In 2018, the Narragansett High School Future Farmers of America class built a corn crib on the site.

The Land Trust would continue to maintain the corn crib and also has plans to build a stone wall on its remainder of the parcel, Landstreet said.

South Kingstown EMS Chief Craig Stanley has explored suitable locations for an EMS station, preferring a spot along the Route 1 corridor toward Charlestown, he said last summer.

The EMS department operates from two locations 24-hours per day. Paramedic 1 and 2 are located at the North Station within the Public Safety Complex on Kingstown Road, and Paramedic 3 is located at the South Station within the Public Services building on Commodore Perry Highway.

A small station at the rear of the fire district’s Matunuck School House Road property would include a single bay for an ambulance and a living quarters, Stanley said.

Stanley said in June that buying land and constructing a new facility could cost three to four times as much as leasing, and would most likely require a bond referendum.

Land Trust reaches deal to protect Yawgoo Pond site

This week’s news comes just two weeks after the land trust announced that a local property owner has agreed to put close to 18 acres on Yawgoo Pond under its protection, bringing the trust’s total amount of protected land to more than 3,000 acres.

In a press release, the group announced at the time that 17.85 acres of forested wetlands and pine-oak forest in West Kingston will be preserved by landowner John Richmond.

Richmond will retain ownership of four acres, protected by a conservation easement held by the land trust and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management. The land trust now owns 13.85 abutting acres, also protected by a conservation easement held by DEM.

The agreements protect the scenic pond shoreline and the species that depend upon it in perpetuity and prohibit any new building or development.

“This project would not have been possible without the perseverance of John Richmond and the land trust staff,” Landstreet said. “It was inspiring to see the amazing generosity of the many neighbors who made contributions to protect this land for the benefit of the environment, Yawgoo Pond and future generations.”

The project puts the land trust’s combined total of protected land at more than 3,000 acres, 123.4 acres of which surrounds Yawgoo Pond. The new parcel includes more than 400 feet of shoreline encompassing rare plants and thriving wildlife habitat. With the acquisition, approximately 1.2 miles of Yawgoo Pond’s shoreline is protected to date.

“Protection of this beautiful, forested property will help protect the water quality of Yawgoo Pond forever,” Linda Green, former program director of the University of Rhode Island Watershed Watch Program, said. “Forests slow down rainfall and allow it to soak into the ground and keep much of it from running into the pond. There is no better protection for fresh water.”

The land trust’s mission is to protect and steward the town’s natural resources, open spaces and cultural landscapes for the benefit of the community.

The nonprofit was founded as a private trust in 1983, and later incorporated as a private nonprofit corporation in 1999, with the mission of conserving the natural resources of the Town of South Kingstown through preservation and stewardship of open space.

In May, the land trust closed on a deal that protects 9.5 acres off of Glen Rock Road in West Kingston through a conservation easement.

In August 2019, the trust closed on the purchase of 43 acres of wooded property on the south side of Worden’s Pond Road that previously was owned by the Boy Scouts. The land trust and the Boy Scouts reached an agreement in March 2018 where the trust would buy the land.

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