Perry Ruddick, one of the early visionaries of the Trust and its second President, guided the Coffin land acquisition strategy over the years and in 2004 articulated to the Trust Board of Directors what he thought would be the ideal endgame:
The Land Bank should work closely with the ‘Sconset Trust to establish a plan to purchase the remaining 120 acres of open land still held in the Coffin family estate located at 260 and 270 Milestone Road. The Land Bank will make an offer for the public golf course and the Trust will make an offer for the 45 acres to the east of the golf course. With one combined offer, the two conservation groups could retire one of the three remaining large open parcels of land on the island of Nantucket. Integral to the plan would be the alignment of support from the Nantucket Conservation Foundation and Nantucket Golf Club.
In the Fall of 2004 Perry and Bob Felch met with the commissioners and the executive director of the Nantucket Land Bank and agreed that the concept was bold and a substantial stretch but one that we all would strive to achieve. While it took 7 years to bring Perry’s vision to fruition, it would not have happened without his guidance.
In 2011 then Board President David Cheek met with the leadership of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation and the Nantucket Golf Club to advance Perry’s strategy. Market conditions and the conservation community were ready to see if a plan could be defined to create the right environment for a transaction. And as they say, the rest is history. The stars finally aligned in late 2011 and on May 1, 2012, all parties gathered at the Land Bank offices to “close” the transfer of the Coffin estate property including the public golf course and the open land to the east.
The public will see the recognizable symbol of the Trust’s commitment to land conservation as one passes the Milestone property – the Trust blue posts mark the boundaries of the new property off Milestone Road. The property stretches north to the Plainfield Road circle and is replete with marvelous examples of indigenous plants, shrubs and trees.
The 45-acre tract has been re-named Ruddick Commons. The vision of the current Trust Board to establish some casual and simple walking trails for public enjoyment has become a reality in 2014. With abutting ‘Sconset Trust properties now encompassing a total of 59 contiguous acres of open land, the wonderful trail system is open to the public with access at the main Milestone entrance, as well as along Burnell Street and Plainfield Road.
Island residents and visitors owe a debt of gratitude to Perry Ruddick. Supporters of the Trust and Coffin Land Campaign have enabled The ‘Sconset Trust to conserve and maintain this beautiful tract of green open space for generations to enjoy.