Conservation projects often happen when, for a moment in time, the interests of landowner, community, and conservation align. This was the case on Cuttyhunk Island where a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity emerged with the passing in 2015 of island legend, Oriel Ponzecchi, owner of several iconic properties including historic Winter House and the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club as well as the rare landscapes of Lookout Hill, Bayberry Hill, Church’s Beach, and Barges Beach.
Our work often starts with advising clients about planning options for their real estate assets. LandVest had worked with the Ponzecchi Trust for 15 years on estate planning related to the Cuttyhunk lands. When the time came to dissolve the trust and distribute the assets, LandVest was there with estate appraisals, disposition recommendations, and an implementation plan that achieved the financial and legacy goals of the Trust.
Early on, the prospect of a resort developer acquiring the properties sent tremors through the small island community. Some saw needed economic opportunity, but all recognized a serious threat to the character of the island and its fragile natural and built infrastructure: the single-source aquifer, the municipal water service and power grid, the rural road network, and marina and ferry facilities. A common refrain was that people wanted their kids and grandkids to enjoy the freedom and simplicity of the island as they had known it.
When five of the Trust properties were put on the market, the Buzzards Bay Coalition saw their chance to lead this complex conservation project, in partnership with the town, before the unified ownership was fragmented forever and the conservation opportunity was lost. After three years, the landowners, Coalition, Town of Gosnold, Commonwealth, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bouchard 120 Oil Spill Fund, and 198 private donors came together to complete the acquisition and permanent preservation of 68 acres of idyllic landscapes for generations to enjoy forever.
In Island Time, our latest episode in The LandVest Difference series, we share how we work with landowners, towns, and conservation groups to achieve great conservation outcomes. If you’ve missed any of our previous episodes exploring our consulting, timberland, and residential stories, make sure to check those out, too. Enjoy!
“She believed in ‘The Magic of Cuttyhunk’ and was committed to do all she could to preserve its environment and culture for generations to come. She was and remains a true hero to the island and would be thrilled and delighted by the success of Cuttyhunk’s conservation efforts.”
Jon Winet, Oriel Ponzecchi’s son and current owner of the Cuttyhunk Fishing Club