The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank announced Wednesday that it had purchased 32 acres at Red Gate Farm in Aquinnah from the family of Caroline Kennedy and Edwin Schlossberg for $10 million — adding significantly to the joint purchase last year of 304 ecologically rare acres at what is now being called Squibnocket Pond Reservation. That $27 million purchase was done in partnership with the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and completed in December 2020, marking the largest conservation purchase in recent memory.

The additional undeveloped 32 acres purchased this week includes 1,000 feet of frontage on Squibnocket Pond and an old hunting camp.

All told, the land bank and Sheriff’s Meadow will now own 336 acres of rare, windswept Atlantic-facing coastal dunes, wetlands, hillocks and salt-blasted heathlands between Moshup Trail and Squibnocket Pond. The Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has described the property as one of the most important tracts of land in the commonwealth.

“It was all part of the same planning process,” land bank executive director James Lengyel explained, speaking to the Gazette by phone Wednesday about the purchase. He said when the purchase and sale agreement between Sheriff’s Meadow, the land bank and the Kennedy family was signed last September, it included a right of first offer for the remaining 32 acres — sometimes known as lot three. Negotiations between the land bank and the Kennedy-Schlossberg family have been under way since then, in a highly competitive real estate market, Mr. Lengyel said.

“There were competitors, and we were glad that we were able to come to terms with the family,” he said.

While property had been on the market, the Kennedy-Schlossberg family had long expressed a desire to keep it undeveloped.

The land bank will pay the family $3 million in cash, and has signed a promissory note to pay $1 million per year for seven years, Mr. Lengyel said, describing the terms.

The Kennedy-Schlossberg family will retain ownership of 60.3 acres which includes their family home and other buildings.

In a brief announcement about the purchase Wednesday, the land bank said the new property will be integrated into the larger Squibnocket Pond Reservation, whose draft management plan is under way. The property includes two distinct parts: a northern and southern lobe. Plans call for opening the reservation to the public by next summer. Mr. Lengyel said there remains a gauntlet of approvals and permits to clear, including with the commonwealth and the town.

Red Gate Farm formerly served as a private retreat for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis until her death in 1994, and had remained family-held until the conservation sale last year to Sheriff’s Meadow and the land bank. The sale also marked the first partnership between the land bank, the Island’s only public conservation organization, and Sheriff’s Meadow, one of the oldest Vineyard land trusts. The land bank contributed $15 million, while Sheriff’s Meadow contributed $12 million to the first purchase. The new purchase this week only involved the land bank.

Mr. Lengyel remarked on the significance of the purchase, placing it in the context of the rapid change and growth that the Vineyard is experiencing.

“The word I like to use to describe what is happening on the Vineyard right now is intensify,” he said. 
“But this is a place that will remain quiet forever.”