Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Daily Hampshire Gazette Supports Hadley's inclusion on the WMF Watch

Yesterday's leading opinion piece from the editorial board of the Daily Hampshire Gazette was a wonderfully well-written piece about Hadley's inclusion on the World Monuments Fund's 2010 Watch list of endangered heritage sites.

I don't think I can produce the piece verbatim here because of copyright laws, but here are some excerpts:

Hadley has long been known for its productive farmland and perhaps less for its history, though it can make a few claims on the latter subject. For one, the town is the birthplace of Civil War general Joseph Hooker, whose Union forces were trounced at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. And two regicides from the English Civil War, William Goffe and Edward Whalley, hid in colonial Hadley in the 17th century, giving birth to the "Angel of Hadley" legend in which Goffe allegedly emerged from hiding to help save the settlement from an Indian attack in 1675.

But recently, news arrived that seemed to merge Hadley's farmland and its history. The World Monuments Fund, a private organization dedicated to saving landmarks around the world, included a section of Hadley on a list of 93 sites in 47 countries it believes need to be preserved. The New York-based group cited the "cultural landscape of Hadley, Mass." as a value that deserves protection...

...A program coordinator for the World Monuments Fund told the Gazette the organization wants to work with local land preservation groups to prevent the Great Meadow from being developed, "not to museum-ify it, but to find out how it can be preserved as farmland."

At first glance, the Great Meadow's inclusion in the group's list seems curious, seeing as many if not most of the landmarks listed date back hundreds, even thousands of years. For example, the list includes Peru's famous Incan ruins, Machu Picchu, as well as a medieval Spanish town, castle ruins in Uzbekistan over 1,300 years old and ancient petroglyphs in Pakistan...

...Though the history of European settlement in this country can't compete with the longevity of many places around the globe, that doesn't disqualify sites such as the Great Meadow from consideration as a place of historic and cultural value. If anything, the inclusion of the Hadley land on the World Monuments Fund list corroborates what many local land preservationists have said for years: It's vital to protect farmland and open space in the Valley...

...There does not appear to be any immediate threat to development in the Great Meadow, even though much of the land is zoned for it. We hope this kind of national recognition will aid local conservation groups such as the Kestrel Trust - which helped protect some of the Great Meadow - attract more resources for preserving additional acreage.

The Great Meadow and Machu Picchu on the same list? If that might help preserve a historic part of Hadley and, more importantly, some first-rate farmland, why not?

Thank you, Daily Hampshire Gazette!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Publicity from Watch-Listing!

A few updates:

Hadley's Great Meadow and the Route 47 Scenic Byway (together encompassing the part of the "cultural landscape" included on the WMF Watch) have received some good coverage recently due to their inclusion on the Watch.

Aside from the front-page story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, a photo of Hadley made it onto a slideshow on BBC News's homepage (which, incidentally, was the #2 most read story at one point!). It was also included in National Geographic! Thousands and thousands more people around the world now know about Hadley.

Let's hope the attention continues to focus on Hadley so that more and more people in the US and abroad recognize the importance of saving the Great Meadow and the rest of the cultural landscape!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hadley included on 2010 World Monuments Watch List

The "Cultural Landscape" of Hadley has been included on the World Monuments Fund's 2010 Watch list of endangered heritage sites. I work for WMF, so I was doubly pleased to see this place where I grew up selected by the independent panel of heritage and conservation experts for inclusion on the 2010 list. I can't speak on behalf of WMF (I am not an expert and not in the programs department), but I can add my two cents as a former local and someone interested in cultural landscapes.

It is hoped that Watch-listing will draw more attention to the cause of conservation and sustainability in this town. A focus on a national and international (the BBC included a shot of Hadley in this slideshow on its homepage!) level is what is needed to show that this landscape really is important. Preserving the Great Meadow, the land along the Route 47 "Scenic Byway" and other areas have long been local issues--that is not disputed. But giving the site such broader recognition and attention is certainly a much-needed boost for the cause. Foundations for buildings might not be being dug in the Great Meadow as we speak, but as long as a huge swathe of it is zoned residential and commercial, the land is under threat. What a great opportunity this is to secure the Great Meadow once and for all and to work towards saving land along Route 47 as well. Cultural landscapes are integral aspects of heritage.

More to come, I'm sure.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fantastic News on Moody Bridge Road!

67 acres of land on Moody Bridge Road in Hadley that could have been used for a housing development will now be saved following their sale to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The owner of the property, if my memory is correct, is the person who challenged the development-limiting law in Hadley several years back because she wanted to sell this land for a subdivision. Her efforts resulted in the State Supreme Court ruling the law unconstitutional, and thus it was repealed, paving the way for uncontrolled development.

Thankfully, the character of Moody Bridge Road will not be compromised (it's a really beautiful street if you've never driven it)! 82 acres on it were also preserved last year.

This isn't the end of the battle, though. There is plenty more land that needs to be saved from development!

Read the article in the Republican here.