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Lynn Woods Land Swap - The swap has been rejected!

We at Dieselbikes felt it was necessary to provide the local New England mountain bike community with information regarding the Lynn Woods land swap deal proposed by the City of Lynnfield.  This topic has been discussed for the last 20 years and at some point in time, it may eventually happen. If this proposal was approved, all the land near the Naked Fish restaurant would have been developed (see map below).  Shark's Tooth and Power line trails would be gone as well severing the Beaver Trail and Seven Hills Area.

For now this proposal has been shot down by the City of Lynn and this will buy the mountain biking community some more time to enjoy the Route 1 area of Lynn Woods.  We at Dieselbikes are working with the City of Lynn to get the know trails like Shark's Tooth and Beaver Trails on the Official Map approved by the City of Lynn.  This way, in the event such at land swap proposal occurs again (and it will), we the mountain biking community will have some say in this matter.

Below is an official map and write-up of the proposed land swap written by Lynn Woods Land Manager Dan Small.

Lynn Woods Land Swap Map

In 2005 the citizens of Lynnfield approved a proposal to "swap" land with Lynn in order to increase Lynnfield's commercial tax base.  Lynnfield would acquire a portion of the park behind the Naked Fish Restaurant on Route 1 and sell it for commercial development.  In exchange Lynn would gain title to an equal sized parcel of already protected Lynnfield conservation land.  This "swap" would have resulted in a significant net loss of irreplaceable open space.  The continuous woodlands many people think of as Lynn Woods are really a collection of parcels owned by many different entities including Lynn, Lynnfield, Saugus, New England Power and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Transferring or "swapping" ownership of these protected parcels does nothing to further protect our watershed, the environment or the future recreational use of this resource.  Not surprisingly this absurd proposal appears to have no support in Lynn and was probably a dead issue the moment it was conceived.

Opinion: By Dan Small

A few years ago a friend of mine told me a very unsettling story.  It seems his little sister was getting married and my friend had decided to dig deep into his savings and give her enough money for a down payment on a home as a wed-ding present.  My friend was not a rich man but this was gift he could give her that would last a lifetime.  The home was never purchased; the money was spent on a motorcycle.  It is a troubling story but what does this have to do with the Lynn Woods?  The Lynn Woods became a municipal park as a result of the Park Act of 1882.  This act allowed municipalities in Massachusetts to create public parks within their boundaries.  The act required that a Park Commission be created to oversee the park and included a series of guidelines that must be followed.  It allowed the Commission to accept donations of land and money and allowed for bonds to be sold for the purchase of land.  It also expressed that "All lands taken or held under this act shall be forever kept open and maintained as a public park or parks" (Park Act of 1882, Section 10).  One of the first properties to be donated to the Park Commission was the parcel known as the Free Public Forest.  This was land Cyrus Tracy and other forward thinking citizens of Lynn had acquired beginning in 1881 to be held as a privately owned park for free public use.  They were concerned that the rapid growth of Lynn would consume the woods for housing and industry. Before turning over ownership, the Trustees of the Free Public Forest and the City of Lynn entered into an agreement regarding the future use of this land.  The document was known as the Indenture of Trust.  The Indenture of Trust was a promise that the Lynn Woods would remain a free public forest forever.  The document didn't just refer to the land being donated by the Trustees but specifically includes the forest "lying partly in said Lynn and partly in the Townships of Saugus and Lynnfield respectively and bounded Northerly but the Newburyport Turnpike" (Route 1).  It is obvious that the intent of this document was to protect all of what we now consider Lynn Woods. The important thing to realize about this document is that it was signed while most of the woods was still privately owned.  The donations of land and money, the issuing of bonds, the expenditures from the City treasury all occurred after this promise had been made.  All of this was approved by the taxpayers of Lynn with the understanding that it would be "forever" as stated in the Indenture of Trust and in Section 10 of the Park Act.  Can the Indenture of Trust be violated? Can pieces of the Lynn Woods be nibbled off or "swapped?"  Legally, I suspect it is not an airtight contract and a team of skilled lawyers with sufficient financial backing could find loopholes to exploit.  But this isn't a legal issue, it is a moral one.  The park wouldn't exist without the promise that it would be forever.  Who would have donated anything to the project if the Indenture had been worded "the land will remain a free public forest until we need it for something else."  Obviously none of this would have occurred, we wouldn't have a park, and no-body would be able to discuss routing interstates through, expanding golf courses over, or commercially developing pieces of our Reservation.  One hundred years ago the people of Lynn dug deep into their savings and gave us a gift that would last forever.  We can cherish that gift or sell it and buy everyone a motorcycle.

If you would like to have your opinion heard on a Lynn Woods issue please send your thoughts to our newsletter editor Jane Kelley.


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