NORTH SMITHFIELD – A private landowner who has six miles of hiking trails running through his property is inviting others to enjoy his land, and hopefully find some peace in the forest, during a time when their normal routines have been disrupted in hopes to curb the spread of COVID 19.
David Gold has opened up his Mattidy Road property to visitors seven days a week, through Sunday April 12, anytime between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The property – once a target of open space initiatives by town officials – boasts wildlife, historic features and access to multiple bodies of water.
“Gold Forest is a place of solace- a place to forest bathe,” wrote Gold. “Spending mindful time in the woods is beneficial for body and soul especially during difficult times.”
Town officials debated purchasing Gold’s property, negotiating terms of a potential deal for more than a decade. Proponents, including then members of the Conservation Commission – hoped to preserve the land for the enjoyment of residents.
In 2008, the town signed a $2.7 million purchase and sales agreement, but later canceled the deal after a new Town Council was voted into office. More recently, in 2019, town officials offered Gold $800,000 for the property, which was listed on the market for $1.95 million.
Gold reportedly signed an agreement last year with a solar company for development of a portion of the property.
This week, he said he plans to gift the remainder of the land to the town in the Gold family name, and encouraged residents to support the proposal.
“The solar project will open the trails,” Gold wrote. “This proposal is nothing like the project(s) that you have witnessed. I suggested you keep an open mind and follow the proposal now before the town- an opportunity gain open space/park & forest at no cost to townspeople.”
Regardless of the property’s future, nature lovers are now welcomed to enjoy it – at least for the next two weeks.
Gold noted that to access the property, visitors should park either on the railroad bed across from 275 Mattity Road or within the triangle on the road, which are both directly across from trail entrance. He noted that there are ‘no parking’ signs and a gate across the bed, but guests are welcomed to squeeze through the closed gate and park with his permission.
Leashed dogs are also welcomed, and guests are reminded to clean up after their pets.
The attached map, Gold noted, can serve as a guide.
Gold asked that visitors “use common sense in keeping distances,” and avoid grouping.
“Simply stated, enjoy nature,” he said.