Imagine a 74-acre Civil War Era farm across from the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, with scenic views, situated a mere mile from a vibrant small town hamlet. Any such farm would be a developer’s dream but this particular Gardiner farm, fronting Sand Hill and Marabac Roads, is quite real. It has been in Albert Hess’ family since 1928, and is slated for preservation through the purchase of its development rights, with one crucial caveat: Gardiner’s Open Space Commission must raise just over $40,000 by March 31st, when a federal grant of $225,000 expires.
With the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture ($225,000) and the Open Space Institute ($112,500) as well as contributions by community organizations, local residents and foundations, $410,000 of the $450,000 required to purchase the development rights, has already been raised. Last June’s fundraiser at Marty and Thelma Kiernan’s Farm – the first Gardiner Farm to have its development rights purchased – raised $10,000 toward the effort and other fundraisers are planned.
With real estate prices at record lows, the time for the purchase of a conservation easement couldn’t be better. Fair market value is currently just over $6,000 per acre. Additionally, land protected in this manner remains on the tax rolls and, since Open Space requires fewer municipal services, municipalities that value preservation can also save on tax expenditures.
The Hess Farm produces corn and hay thus supporting our local farming industry, a critical component of our local economy. Its preservation ensures continued enjoyment of beautiful vistas, enhances our sense of community and provides economic benefits. But time is short. To be a part of this preservation effort, a tax -deductible contribution in any amount can be made in several ways:
To make your donation, you can use the convenient coupon below, or just send a check payable to “Open Space Conservancy” to the Open Space Conservancy, 1350 Broadway, Suite 201, New York, NY 10018. Be sure to write “Hess Farm” on the check’s memo line.
Contributions may also be made on-line at Open Space Institute/Conservancy’s website www.osiny.org (be sure to note “Hess Farm” in the memo box).