Champlin Foundation awards final piece to Mercy Woods purchase

Champlin Foundation awards final piece to Mercy Woods purchase

CUMBERLAND – Mayor William S. Murray and Cumberland Land Trust president Randy Tuomisto announced this week that the Champlin Foundation, in cooperation with the Rhode Island chapter of the Nature Conservancy, has awarded a grant of $295,000 to the Cumberland Land Trust toward the purchase of Mercy Woods.

The 229-acre site, owned by The Sisters of Mercy Northeast in the northeast corner of town, is composed of woodlands, fields, vernal pools, and hiking trails.

The town will own the land, and terms of the purchase include the right to develop up to 17.5 acres of practice fields for sports such as soccer and flag football.

The Mercy Woods Conservation and Management Plan adopted by the Town Council last October creates a partnership between the town, the Cumberland Land Trust and Pawtucket Water Supply Board in regard to future management of the property.

In conjunction with the abutting properties, Mercy Woods creates an important habitat block of more than 2,000 acres for plants and animals and provides ample hiking opportunity for all to enjoy, said Tuomisto.

“I am grateful to the Champlin Foundation for this most generous gift benefitting Cumberland’s present and future generations” Murray said.

This stands to be the second largest open space acquisition in Cumberland’s history. Murray told the Town Council last week that the pending purchase of Mercy Woods in early May “is probably the best news the town of Cumberland has had in many, many years ...”

It wasn’t “an easy pull,” he said, but Director of Planning and Community Development Jonathan Stevens and others made it happen. This is a piece of property the whole town can be proud of, he added.

The Champlin grant of $295,000 completes the financing of the $1.5 million acquisition. Other funders include the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, at $400,000, the Pawtucket Water Supply Board, $300,000, and the Cumberland Land Trust, $100,000. The town’s contribution is $405,000, which comes from the town’s open space fund.