HAMPTON, NH – Kennebunk Savings is donating $15,000 toward the Hampton Conservation Commission’s acquisition of 22 acres of undeveloped land on North Shore Road. The property includes forested uplands and wetlands, as well as the historic Grist Mill Pond. The town will own the land, with a conservation easement held by the Southeast Land Trust to ensure its protection.

The land has been identified not only as a critical habitat and wildlife corridor, but an important protection zone to ensure safe drinking water supplies. “For that reason alone, this is an important property,” said Jay Diener, Vice-Chair of the Hampton Conservation Commission. Undeveloped land surrounding wetlands helps keep systems healthy by filtering sediments and pollution that would otherwise be ocean-bound. It can also prevent flooding, acting as a sponge during unusually heavy rains or king tides. The Commission has voted to expend about 80% of its own conservation fund on this purchase.

Diener observed that Hampton has less conserved open space than other seacoast communities—making this conservation effort particularly notable for the quickly-growing town. A warrant article on the ballot in March asking for additional funding to finalize the purchase passed with 83% support, a testament to the community’s enthusiasm.

“The Barkley Family has accumulated this property for decades with the intention of conserving it,” Diener said. “They have been approached by builders many times and have always rejected those offers.” A recent appraisal of the land has valued it at around $1.4 million – but it is being sold to the town for $200,000. The property will be open to the public for year-round hiking, canoeing, and wildlife observation.

“I’m floored by the generosity of the Barkley Family,” said Kaley Gagne, the Hampton and Portsmouth Branch Manager for Kennebunk Savings. “We are so fortunate that such a critical open space was set aside for the health and wellness of the greater community for generations to come.”

Bradford C. Paige, the Bank’s President & CEO, noted the institution’s motivation for supporting projects like this. “As a financial institution, we often benefit from land development. As such, we understand that we have an important responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that we also prioritize the preservation of our key natural resources and the beauty of the places we call home.”