Sell Vietnam - A Gamble

Friday, October 30, 2020

Sell Vietnam?  What a Gamble!

 

Ajax Gaming Ventures, a Delaware Limited Liability Corporation owned by Donald Trump offered NEMBA a $35,000, one year purchase option, based on a sale price of $1,650,000 to buy our “Vietnam” property in Milford, Massachusetts.

 

In 2003 after completing a $210,000 fundraising effort NEMBA was able to purchase 47 acres of land in Milford, Massachusetts. We bought this land to prevent its development and to protect and preserve a wonderful network of trails that were known locally as “Vietnam”. Our land forms an integral part of a much larger area of conservation land in the towns of Milford, Holliston and Hopkinton.

 

NEMBA’s purchase of this land marked a first for mountain bike associations in our nation, and in the world.

 

Our Vietnam property is right in the middle of approximately 1000 acres of protected open space. Vietnam and the surrounding lands are, of course, replete with many miles of trails that are open to non-motorized trail users. NEMBA has been very active, since the purchase of the land, in improving the existing trail network in the entire area, as well as in building and enhancing trails on our own property.

 

Despite the astounding price, NEMBA summarily rejected the purchase offer. Mountain bikers bought this land to preserve it, not to profit from it. Still, it’s amazing to think of just how lucky we were to be there at the right time to make that purchase.

 

It was quite a gamble. In 2002 NEMBA purchased an option to buy the land from the Liner Trust for $15,000. We had no idea if we could raise the rest of the money, but we couldn’t let the opportunity slip by. Somehow, through donations large and small, donations that in some cases came in from around the country, we beat the option deadline and were able to purchase the land.

 

After we took ownership NEMBA formed the Vietnam Land Management Steering Committee to oversee and manage the property. Owning conservation land, even if you’re a non-profit organization, is not an easy thing to do. In addition to the obvious issue of trail maintenance and upkeep there are liability issues to consider. That means insurance costs every year. And then there are taxes, again a consideration that the VLMSC deals with on a yearly basis. And of course one must deal with abutters. Fortunately we have been able to maintain excellent relations with the owners of the surrounding conservation lands which all form part of the much larger Upper Charles Headwaters Area.

 

The management goals for Vietnam include, in part,

 

  • Protection and preservation of important natural resources such as wetlands and water quality, rare and endangered species, and overall biological and landscape integrity.
  • Protection and preservation of the technical, natural recreational terrain, minimizing new signage and other new facilities.
  • A planned trail system suitable for both challenging technical and cross-country bicycle riding.
  • Regular maintenance of the trail system.
  • Appropriate construction of new trails as necessary to complete the planned trail system or to replace existing trails to be closed and restored.


Public Access and Use


The parcel shall be open to the public for appropriate non-motorized trail-based recreation. Elements of the public use vision include:

  • Permanent and guaranteed mountain bike use of the parcel, in perpetuity, regardless of who owns and/or manages the land in the future.
  • Recreational opportunities for the general public, not limited to NEMBA members.
  • A multi-use trail system and a commitment to trail sharing among various user groups.
  • The prohibition of recreational motorized vehicle use of the parcel and the Upper Charles Headwaters area.

 

Clearly our stated goals for our Vietnam property do not allow its development into a gaming facility, or anything else. No matter what the financial incentives might be. So it was not much of a stretch for us to reject the offer.

 

For more information on Vietnam, go to www.nemba.org and enter Vietnam in the search box in the upper right hand corner.