Kestrel Land Trust to move to South Amherst early next year

  • Kestrel Land Trust logo

Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

AMHERST — Kestrel Land Trust, responsible for helping to preserve thousands of acres of open space in the region, will relocate its offices to a South Amherst site at the foot of the Mount Holyoke Range early next year.

The Planning Board last week unanimously approved plans for the trust to move from Amherst center, where it has rented office space in a building at 284 North Pleasant St. for the past six years, to an existing home at 37 Bay Road.

The trust acquired the former residence of the late Seymour and Alice Epstein for $480,000 two years ago, and intends to convert the home, next to a 7-acre pond the Epsteins built, said Thomas Hartman, a principal at C&H Architects in Amherst.

Planning Director Christine Brestrup told planners that as a nonprofit educational entity, Kestrel is allowed to move to the site with the board’s approval.

“This is a use allowed under that section of the bylaw in any zoning district with site plan review,” Brestrup said

The offices will include 11 parking spaces for the seven staff members and visitors, including members of the Kestrel board, and a new fire department turnaround will be constructed for emergency vehicles, Hartman said.

For the town, Kestrel’s move will help enhance the site and serve as one of the points of entry to the numerous hiking trails for the Mount Holyoke Range.

Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek, who has worked with Kestrel on land acquisitions and preservation, said the vision was to have the offices there.

“It’s exciting to see it come to fruition,” Ziomek said.

The town Conservation Department is planning to add kiosks and other markers in the months ahead to encourage more people to take advantage of walking the site.

In addition, the town will expand a nearby parking area on Bay Road near the Sweet Alice Conservation Area — named after Alice Epstein — and also putting a parking lot in at the Apple Brook cluster subdivision at 1194 West St., also known as Vista Terrace, and across from the Atkins Farms Country Market.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.