VIRGINIA B. SMITH & others 
CITY OF WESTFIELD & others. 
Heard: April 14, 2016.
action commenced in the Superior Court Department on
April 27, 2012.
case was heard by Daniel A. Ford, J.
A. Kenefick, III (Mary Patryn with him) for the plaintiffs.
Anthony I. Wilson (John T. Liebel with him) for the
Present: Green, Trainor, & Milkey, JJ.
plaintiffs, Virginia B. Smith and other Westfield residents
(collectively, residents), appeal from a judgment for the
defendants, the city of Westfield and others (collectively,
Westfield), which vacated a preliminary injunction that, in
effect, prohibited a school construction project at the John
A. Sullivan Memorial Playground (playground). The residents
challenge the judgment for two reasons. First, they argue
that the playground was sufficiently dedicated to invoke the
protection of art. 97 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts
Constitution, notwithstanding the fact that no documents were
ever recorded that dedicated the land for art. 97
purposes. Second, the residents contend that the
judge erred in concluding that a Statewide comprehensive
outdoor recreation plan (SCORP) contradicts Mahajan
v. Department of Envtl. Protection, 464
Mass. 604 (2013) . We affirm, as we conclude that the
playground has not been designated for an art. 97 purpose in
a manner sufficient to invoke its protection.
matter came before a Superior Court judge on cross motions
for judgment based on an agreed statement of facts. We
summarize those facts, reserving some facts for later
discussion. On November 13, 1939, Westfield took title to the
land in question for the purpose of satisfying a tax debt
pursuant to G. L. (Ter. Ed.) c. 60, §§ 53 and 54.
In 1957, Westfield passed an ordinance recognizing the land
as a playground and naming it the John A. Sullivan Memorial
Playground. In 1979, the Federal Land and Water Conservation
Fund (LWCF) awarded Westfield a grant that, in part, was used
to upgrade the playground. A SCORP was required for Westfield
to be eligible for that grant. See 16 U.S.C. § 4601-8(d)
(1976).The SCORP, which the residents assert
applies to this matter, states: "Land acquired or
developed with [LWCF] funds become protected under . . .
[art. 97]." See Massachusetts Outdoors 2006: Statewide
Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, Executive Office of
Energy and Environmental Affairs 4,
6.pdf [https://perma.cc/T3D7-4EKN] (2006
SCORP). In 2010, Westfield endorsed an open space
and recreation plan that designated the playground as
"open space." In August, 2011, the playground was
determined to be surplus property, and the city council voted
to have it transferred to the school department in order to
construct an elementary school. In the hearing on the
parties' cross motions, the residents conceded that no
document was ever recorded in the registry of deeds
designating the playground as land devoted to the
"conservation, development and utilization of the
agricultural, mineral, forest, water, air, and other natural
resources." Art. 97 of the Amendments to the
Article 97 protection.
residents maintain that the playground is subject to art. 97
protection and that Westfield acted beyond its authority when
it approved and permitted construction of a school building
at the playground without obtaining a two-thirds vote of the
General Court as required by art. 97. "The critical question
to be answered is not whether the use of the land
incidentally serves purposes consistent with art. 97, or
whether the land displays some attributes of art. 97 land,
but whether the land was taken for those purposes
[emphasis in original], or subsequent to the taking was
designated for those purposes [emphasis supplied] in
a manner sufficient to invoke the protection of art.
97." Mahajan v. Department of
Envtl. Protection, 464 Mass. at 615. Article 97
protection also may arise where, following the taking for
purposes other than art. 97, the land is specifically
designated for art. 97 purposes by deed or other recorded
restriction. See Selectmen of Hanson v.
Lindsay, 444 Mass. 502, 508-509 (2005). See also
Toro v. Mayor of Revere, 9
Mass.App.Ct. 871, 872 (1980) (applicability of art. 97
depended on whether the land had been conveyed "to the
conservation commission ... to maintain and preserve it for
the use of the public for conservation purposes"). We
agree with the motion judge's finding that Westfield did
not specifically designate, in a manner sufficient to invoke
the protection of art. 97, i.e., by deed or other recorded
restriction on the land, the playground for art. 97 purposes
and that the playground was not taken for those purposes.
Westfield's subsequent actions of passing an ordinance
naming the playground and endorsing the open space and
recreation plan in 2010 are insufficient to subject the
playground to art. 97 protection. Compare Selectmen of
Hanson v. Lindsay, supra at
50 8-50 9; Mahajan v. Department of
Envtl. Protection, supra at 615-616.
residents contend that because the 2006 SCORP considers land
rehabilitated with LWCF grants as being under the protection
of art. 97,  the judge erred in determining that the
acceptance of the LWCF grant did not subject the property to
art. 97 protection. As the judge correctly stated, "[a]
federal or state agency is not free to promulgate regulations
which conflict with statutes passed by the state legislature
or with the common law enunciated by the Supreme Judicial
Court. See Purity Supreme, Inc. v.
Attorney Gen[.], 380 Mass. 762, 774-775
(1980)." Moreover, the Supreme Judicial Court, as final
arbiter of the Massachusetts Constitution, has interpreted
art. 97 and defined its requirements. A Federal or State
agency's regulations cannot conflict with the Supreme
Judicial Court's interpretation of the Massachusetts
Constitution. See Planned Parenthood League of Mass.,
Inc. v. Attorney Gen., 424 Mass. 586,
589-590 (1997). Accordingly, the 2006 SCORP cannot infringe
upon the formalities for constitutional protection, as
construed by the Supreme Judicial Court, by deeming the
acceptance of an LWCF grant as creating art. 97 protection.