In the beginning
With the real estate boom of the late 1980's came tremendous loss of open space to land development. The Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust had its origin in the Town of New London budget cycle for the 1987 Town Meeting. Recognizing the impact of escalating property values on its goals for preservation of additional open land, the Town Conservation Commission asked for an increase in its annual appropriation. The request was not granted. However, the Selectmen felt that land preservation warranted a special study. So in April 1987, they appointed a committee consisting of a representative from the Budget Committee, the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission, a local realtor, and a State Legislative Representative.
This group of five concluded that a private non-profit land trust was the appropriate vehicle to address land protection. A land trust can offer a quick response to landowners needs, be flexible, offer confidentiality and have the ability to fundraise. The group was expanded to include additional concerned citizens in the summer of 1987. Articles of Agreement and by-laws were drawn up and registered with the State on September 25 of that year. The name chosen, The Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust was in tribute to the man whose donation of land to the New London Common set an outstanding example of what private land preservation can contribute to a town and its people.
While the Land Trust's beginnings were in New London, the organization has grown to serve 12 towns in the Mt. Kearsarge/Lake Sunapee region. The mission of Ausbon Sargent is to help preserve the rural character of the Mt. Kearsarge/Ragged/Lake Sunapee region by working with local governments and landowners. Ausbon Sargent protects lands that make our region a special place to live.
What's in a name?
The Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust is a challenging name. Now for quick reference we refer to ourselves as "Ausbon Sargent." We believe the action of our namesake epitomizes who we are as individual members and what we do as an organization. Please read the following story behind our name.
Who was Ausbon Sargent?
Ausbon W. Sargent, a retired maintenance worker of no inherited wealth, at age 94 took his life savings and bought the three-acre Main Street "town green" parcel from Colby-Sawyer College. Sargent immediately gave the land to the Town of New London on condition the parcel remain forever undeveloped.
The year was 1985 and land prices had soared amid a building boom. The financially struggling college, where Sargent had worked for 25 years, had offered the parcel for sale. Fearing the town green, the center of community life of his boyhood, would go the way of the mini-mall, Sargent paid $150,000 to guarantee its preservation.
Wishing to remain anonymous, Sargent only took credit for this "living legacy" to the people of New London at the urging of his friend Mary Haddad. "I don’t care one cent about any fanfare," Sargent told a reporter at the time. "The main thing is to keep it the way it was." The green has been renamed the "Sargent Common" and the only structure permitted is the Mary D. Haddad Memorial Bandstand.
The Mission of the Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust
The Ausbon Sargent mission “Helping to preserve the rural landscape of the
Mt. Kearsarge/Ragged/Lake Sunapee Region” is a direct reflection of the hopes that Ausbon W. Sargent had when he used his life’s savings to preserve the New London town common forever.