Open letter to the citizens of Amherst

To the Editor:

I have been reading the various letters to the editor and listening to interested parties concerning the situation surrounding Cemetery Fields, which our family home abuts.

I took the opportunity to research the various documents, which reveal the facts surrounding the situation. I have read in letters to the editor that the land was a gift from the original owners and their intent was for it not to be used for recreation purposes. This is untrue on all levels. The actual purchase and sales agreement between the Merrills, who sold the land at fair market value to the Cemetery Trustees on June 30, 1993, for $140,000, specifically and clearly states the land may be used for cemetery and other town purposes, including playing fields, by the town.

There was no gift of this land to the town. Further, there is a hand written letter by the Merrills to the town dated April 29, 1995, which clearly states they were not opposed to the use of the land for sport or recreation, but wanted the fencing installed, and this was agreed upon in the purchase and sales agreement. This provision was met before the fields were used for sport.

I have also heard that the Cemetery Trustees are unable to sell the land because it is illegal to do so. This is patently false. According to Terry Knowles, the assistant director of charitable trusts for the New Hampshire attorney general, the parcel of land in question can be legally sold.

While there are strong opinions surrounding how this land should be used moving forward, I invite all citizens to find the documentation verifying the fact of the situation. This information can be viewed at www.amherst
today.com
under the Cemetery Fields tab. All of the original documents are there to see.

After researching the documentation, it is clear to me that there is nothing illegal about the purchase and transfer of this land to the town, nor was there ever a gift of this land to the town or a wish on the part of the original owners that the land should not be used for playing fields beyond a specific date. The intent to change to cemetery land was when the need should arise. There is no documented need for this land to be used as a cemetery any time soon. There is plenty of space available in the Meadowview Cemetery for burials for at least 59 years, if past trends of 22-28 burials per year continue.

I encourage each citizen to learn the facts for themselves and join me in voting yes for Warrant Articles 40 and 26 to keep the fields in use as they currently are.

PAULA MACLELLAN

Amherst