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November 8, 2012

Little Neck sale opponents stop appeal

IPSWICH — It seems the fight over the sale of Little Neck has come to an end.

The Ipswich Citizens for Public Trust announced this week that it will drop its appeal, a struggle that the group has poured countless hours into.

The 35-acre Little Neck peninsula was placed in a trust in 1660 and managed by trustees to benefit the Ipswich Public Schools. The trustees, known as the Feoffees, sold the land to Little Neck residents for $31.4 million on Aug. 10.

The sale netted $25 million for a new investment trust that will continue to benefit the schools.

The citizens group opposed the deal, saying the trust should not have been broken and the schools will get less money than if the trust had been preserved and properly managed.

In a statement released Tuesday, the group said it “reluctantly” made the decision to withdraw its appeal after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court denied the group’s request to hear its case last week.

“While we hate to let down the many people in Ipswich and around the country who have supported our cause, as a practical matter, pursuing the case further before the Massachusetts Court of Appeals is unlikely to achieve a different result,” the statement read. “The SJC was the court in the best position to protect the public interest and reach the merits of this case.”

The group also faulted the attorney general’s office for failing to take action against the Feoffees, despite the office finding — twice, in 2001 and 2002 — that the Feoffees were mismanaging the trust. The group claim that the attorney general’s lack of action led to tenant disputes on Little Neck, which the court cited as the reason to breach the 17th-century trust and sell the land.

“Anyone thinking about donating land or property for charitable purposes in Massachusetts should now think twice in light of the Little Neck case,” the group wrote. “It is clear the attorney general cannot be counted upon to uphold the intentions of donors and testators.”

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