Background & Accomplishments
After the creation of the Open Space Committee in 1994, as a first step it proposed a fund, the Open Space, Recreation, and Water Supply Protection Fund, to be used for costs related to acquisitions of open lands. The fund was approved by both Town Meeting and the State legislature in the late 1990s. This was followed in the spring of 2000, by the authorization of a $10 million Open Space Bond at the Annual Town Meeting, designated for the protection of land for open space, water supply protection, and recreation. In 2011, the town approved an additional $5 million Bond Authorization for the purpose of open space acquisitions and related costs to develop properties for recreational uses. With support of the citizens of Ipswich and through partnerships with local land trusts and the State, the Open Space Program has had tremendous success in it's mission to protect the valuable natural resources of our community and create new and improved passive recreational opportunities. Read more about each of the successful completed Open Space Bond projects.
Open Space Bond Steering Committee
After passage of the initial Bond Authorization in 2000, an Open Space Bond Steering Committee was appointed to make recommendations on how the program should be administered, which included hiring a Program Manager to oversee land acquisitions as a key function of the Open Space Program. As properties have been acquired and protected, an Open Space Steward was hired in 2003 to address stewardship needs of the Program. The stewardship needs of the Program have in the past been assisted by AmeriCorps/MassLIFT members, and are currently assisted by staff within the Parks and Cemeteries Department, as well as occasional volunteers and outside contractors as necessary. In addition to recommendations for staffing the Program, the work of the Steering Committee led to the Open Space Land Acquisition Policy and the Open Space Bond Parcel List, which has been revised through the years since the original list was created.
The Open Space Program staff includes the Program Manager, who oversees aspects of the program related to land acquisitions and works closely with the Open Space Committee establishing policies and priorities related to land protection. The Program Manager is responsible for collaborating with a number of relevant town boards and committees including the Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Board of Selectman, Agricultural Commission, and others that have a stake in the protection of Ipswich's natural and recreational resources. In addition, the Program Manager works closely with local, regional, and state organizations working on land protection projects in Ipswich.
Also on staff is the Open Space Steward who addresses stewardship and land management needs of the town's protected open space. The Stewardship staff works closely with the Conservation Commission and other Town entities that have care, custody and control of open space lands, and is assisted by Parks and Cemeteries Division and Department of Public Works staff; as well as volunteers and outside organizations all involved in the use and management of open lands, particularly those with public access.
Staff have also had the good fortune through the years to have hardworking and capable Interns, including AmeriCorps Members, all with a strong interest and commitment to conservation and natural resource protection, work with us to advance the efforts of the Program.