Lease of land is a viable option

The Amherst Board of Selectmen is reluctantly going to talk with Brad Knight about leasing his land on Stearns Road so the town can use it for fields on which kids can play soccer and lacrosse.

We say “reluctantly” because, as the board clearly stated, reliance on private land could leave the town in a bad position if the landowner decided to no longer let the town use it.

That’s not an unreasonable concern, but the board must do something. In less than two months it will be forced to end all recreation use of Cemetery Fields, something the town has known was coming for years. The need for additional land isn’t exactly a surprise.

Sports participation continues to grow, Amherst needs to do something, and Knight’s land, which he has been offering for years, seems a viable option. The selectmen’s concern about the vicissitudes of working with private land owners is legitimate, but Knight has always seemed to be a real sports booster and not the sort to attempt to take advantage of a serious situation.

“I’m always ready and willing to discuss any option that provides playing fields for kids … We have a great opportunity to solve a crisis with very little effort,” he said in last week’s Cabinet story.

Those sound like the comments of a concerned citizen, someone who is eager to help, and we see no reason to view him in any other light.

Since voters seem disinclined to pay for land purchases, his fields seem like the town’s best hope for now.