Post image for Town considering options to secure land off Deerfoot <em>(Special Town Meeting at end of November?)</em>

Above: With a historic home and many acres of undeveloped land slated to be sold to a developer, Town Committees are asked to weigh in on what they would want to do with the land if Town voters opted to match the offer. (image left from realtor.com, right from Google Maps)

As I posted yesterday, the clock is ticking for the Town act on matching a $1.9 million offer on close to 28 acres of “forest land”. This week, Town Counsel publicly confirmed that the notice of intent to sell came with a bonafide offer. By my math, that means the Town has until December 26th to act.

This week, some of the options for use of the land or paying for the match were highlighted, including some that might not cost additional tax dollars.

As I wrote about last week, the parcel in question is 135 Deerfoot Road. (Technically, it is two parcels, which includes a lot designated on Google Maps as 126 Deerfoot Road.)

On August 28th, the Town received notice of owners’ intent to sell property designated as forest land under Chapter 61. (That doesn’t mean all 27.8+ acres is actually forest land. It includes an approximately 200 year old – some say historic* – home and old barn with landscape yard.) The statute allows the Town 120 days to act on their right of first refusal. 

“Acting” would require authorization by Town Meeting voters. Selectmen discussed potentially holding a Special Town Meeting at the end of November to handle this issue only. (It would be the third Special Town Meeting in just over a year.)

As of their Tuesday night meeting, the board wasn’t advocating for purchase of the property. And before voting on opening a Town Meeting Warrant, Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf said she would want to hear from boards about what they want to do with the land. 

At this point, no committees have voted to support the purchase. (Most haven’t had a chance to discuss it as a committee, let alone look at details to consider a formal vote.) But representatives from multiple committees did push to take a better look at the opportunity and what should be done. And many were already recommending that Town voters make the call.

Planning Board Chair Don Morris was the first committee rep up to the mike. He recalled that a report, which he is having trouble locating, had found that purchasing Open Space can have a longer term savings for the Town’s tax burden than allowing land to be developed. He characterized developments as conveyor belts to the school system, and referred to costs related to additional roads and services.

What may surprise some readers is word that neighbors purportedly would prefer the land be purchased by the developer who has made the offer, Brendan Properties. According to abutter Marguerite Landry, she and about 20 neighbors worry about what the Town might have in store if it purchases the parcel. 

It’s worth noting that many residents from the neighborhood have been at odds with the Public Works Planning Board. Homeowners publicly disagreed with recommendations for a water tower at Fairview Hill that they purport would ruin views in their area.

It may also surprise you to learn that not all Town Committee interest was to keep any new housing off the land. 

Freddie Gillespie, Chair of the Community Preservation Committee said it had several hundred thousand dollars available for Affordable Housing projects. She suggested that using some of the land for around 17 homes could re-secure “safe harbor” from unwelcome, larger 40B projects.

Gillespie explained that most people don’t know that the protected status based on the Park Central approval has already passed. She also suggested preserving and making use of the existing home and barn as some sort of housing project. [click to keep reading…]

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Post image for Reminder: Hike Southborough on Saturday (Updated)

Above: Trails you can explore on Hike Southborough Day include the Beals Preserve and the Overlook Trail at Chestnut Hill Farm (images cropped from Chestnut Hill Farm blog)

As I previously posted, the community is being invited to come out an hike in our town this Saturday, September 23rd.  Since I originally posted the news, more walks were added to the schedule. I’ve been updating the post, but it seems to make sense to share the news with updates again today.

Hike Southborough Day includes activities for all ages. Guided hikes are scheduled throughout the day. New Geocaches with prizes will be premiered. And kids can enjoy scavenger hunts to make hiking more fun.

The event is organized by two Southborough Girl Scouts in cooperation with in cooperation with the Southborough Trails Committee, the Southborough Open Land Foundation, Stewardship Committee and Chestnut Hill Farm. (With snacks and water provided by Wegman’s.)

Organizers will be based out of a tent at Chestnut Hill Farm (from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm). But hiking activities extend beyond the farm.

Residents are welcome to hike Town trails throughout the day. But for a guided hike, here is the schedule:

9:30 am – Beals Preserve (tracking wildlife)
9:30 am – Sudbury Reservoir Trail
noon – Breakneck Hill Conservation Land
2 pm – Art Installation at Beals Preserve
2:30 pm – Chestnut Hill Farm
6 pm – Beals Preserve

Between 9-3 at the tent, you can pick up freebies (trail snacks, water, maps, scavenger hunt) and flyers with “Tips ‘N Tricks” for safe hiking, fun hiking, leave no trace, etc.

For those of you who enjoy Geocaching, you can look for prizes and several new caches.  

So, if you’re up for a hike, it sounds like a good time for all.

(Note: You can read the flyer here, but be warned that it is missing details on the wildlife tracking and Breakneck Hill walks.)

Updated (9/22/17 10:50 am): If there are enough great pics to share, I’d love to post some shots next week from this weekend’s hikes. You can email mysouthborough@gmail.com. Or, remember to tag #HikeSouthboroughDay when you share pics on social media.

Updated (9/23/17 8:37 am): I fixed links that were misdirected above.

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Missing her? Dog found in Liberty Estates

by beth on September 22, 2017

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

A reader has rescued a dog and is now looking for her owner(s).

She was found in Liberty Estates yesterday evening. (That’s a neighborhood off of Southville Road.)

If the pooch belongs to you, please call 617-233-4008.

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Post image for Recruiting for committees on Golf Course CR and disposition of Fayville Hall

Above: Committees are being put together to move forward with voter-authorized sale of one property and purchase of another. (image left by Susan Fitzgerald, right posted to Facebook by Neil A. Theriault)

At the same time, as the clock is ticking for the Town to decide whether or not to match an offer on a 27.8 acre parcel of land, the Town is seeking three volunteers to deal with the purchase and sale of two other parcels.

I’ll be posting about the potential of the new parcel tomorrow.* Today, the focus is on the new ad hoc committees that the Town is recruiting members for. (The deadline to volunteer is September 27th. So that’s more pressing.)

The bulk of membership for the two committees will be representatives from other Town committees. But selectmen are also seeking one at large member per group. Plus, for one group, they will also appoint a representative of a land trust.

Golf Course Conservation Restriction Committee

To finalize the Town’s purchase of the Golf Course from St. Mark’s, a Conservation Restriction needs to be put in place. That was a condition of the Article approved by Town Meeting voters. Based on discussion at this week’s Board of Selectmen meeting, it appears getting consensus on the CR has proven complicated.

It seems there has been some back and forth and communication issues among committees, abutters, and attorneys. In an effort to expedite, the BOS approved forming a committee to work through the details.

Initially, Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf pushed for a joint committee meeting with the public to air out all issues and move ahead. But Open Space Preservation Commission Chair Freddie Gillespie argued that not much work gets done in joint meetings. She maintained that sitting around a table as a working group is necessary to work through the nitty, gritty details.

In the end, the board voted to appoint an ad hoc committee which, in addition to reps of relevant committees, includes one at-large resident (with preference given to an abutter) and one representative of a land trust.

The delegates from other town boards will be one member each from OSPC, Conservation Commission, Recreation Commission, and the Golf Course Committee.

Fayville Hall Disposition Committee

In April, voters gave the Board of Selectmen authority to sell 40 and 42 Central Street – Fayville Hall and the adjacent parking lot. The Town has yet to act on that. Now selectmen are looking to move ahead with plans.

At the Annual Town Meeting, preservationists pushed for selectmen to commit to making an effort to preserving the historic building.** A bylaw passed earlier that evening expanded property owners’ use options if they preserve the facade. Selectmen said that preservation would be taken into consideration. But the only commitment they would make is that the process would be public.

They are keeping that promise. The board is putting together a committee to review an Request for Proposals before it is issued. An RFP could allow the Town the chance to look at options and potentially choose one that suits the Town’s needs best rather than the highest offer. [click to keep reading…]

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On the market this week in Southborough

by beth on September 21, 2017

Post image for On the market this week in Southborough

Above: This home at 9 Wolfpen Lane went on the market this week for $1,650,000 (MLS photo)

Here’s what went on and off the market this week. Thanks to Gail DuBois (email) of Keller Williams for supplying the town’s new listing information for the week.*

New on the market

Sold

  • 26 Woodbury Road (map) – 6 room, 3 bed, 2f 0h bath Split Entry – 19 days on the Market, Listed at $469,900, Sold at $462,500
  • 8 Stub Toe Lane (map) – 7 room, 2 bed, 2f 0h bath Colonial – 65 days on the Market, Listed at $539,000, Sold at $519,000
  • 4 Wells Lane (map) – 9 room, 4 bed, 4f 0h bath Colonial – 12 days on the Market, Listed at $1,150,000, Sold at $1,085,000

*Listings for the week are based on data pulled from MLS on Thursday mornings.

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Wildlife Tracking at Beals Preserve – Saturday

by beth on September 21, 2017

Post image for Wildlife Tracking at Beals Preserve – Saturday

Above: The community is invited to learn about tracking wildlife this weekend (image posted to flickr by plantsforpermaculture)

Southborough Open Land Foundation is inviting the community to track wildlife at the Beals Preserve. The event is timed to be part of Saturday’s Hike Southborough Day.

The hike is taking place Saturday, September 23 from 9:30 – about 11:30 am.

Join naturalist Paul Wanta as we look for the tracks and signs of wildlife of Beals Preserve.

Paul Wanta tracking at Silver Lake in Grafton (image cropped from video by CentralMassNews)Paul Wanta, based in Wendell MA, has been a naturalist, teacher of wilderness skills, and tracker for over 30 years. He will help us learn more about the land, wildlife, and plants that inhabit Beals Preserve.

The program is free and open to all ages The program will be about 2 hours in length.

To join the guided walk, join them at the Kiosk by the Reservoir Channel. (Click here for the map. It doesn’t show the kiosk, but does show the main entrance at the Reservoir Channel.)

Also still at Beals Preserve is the Art on the Trails exhibit. That will be closing with a special poetry walk ceremony the next day. For more on that, click here.

For a reminder of other activities taking place during Hike Southborough Day, click here.

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Southborough Emergency Management director responds to storm relief in Puerto Rico

September 20, 2017 05:47:38 PM
Thumbnail image for Southborough Emergency Management director responds to storm relief in Puerto Rico

Normally when I write about Neal Aspesi, it means the Director of Southborough Emergency Management has issued a warning related to weather forecasts in our town. This time the news about him and his efforts to help a community far from our Southborough’s borders.

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OEDC’s roadmap for doing something about Downtown; plus Broker Breakfast on Friday (Updated)

September 20, 2017 04:47:19 PM
Thumbnail image for OEDC’s roadmap for doing something about Downtown; plus Broker Breakfast on Friday (Updated)

Southborough’s Economic Development Committee has put out a second issue of “Doing Business in Southborough”. This time the focus is on answering the frequently asked question “What are You Doing about Downtown?” 

And, while I’m posting about the EDC, I should note that they are hosing another “Broker Breakfast” this Friday.

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Southborough job listings: Several new and reposted jobs for the schools

September 20, 2017 02:55:00 PM
Thumbnail image for Southborough job listings: Several new and reposted jobs for the schools

Another posting of jobs available in Southborough.

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Special Election update: Five candidates file for Board of Selectmen

September 20, 2017 10:55:46 AM
Thumbnail image for Special Election update: Five candidates file for Board of Selectmen

Special Election voters will get to choose from up to five candidates for selectman this fall. Not only did the candidates I reported on before file papers, two more entered the race.

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Heritage Day 2017: Save the date (and participant sign up deadlines) (Updated)

September 20, 2017 09:04:21 AM
Thumbnail image for Heritage Day 2017: Save the date <em>(and participant sign up deadlines)</em> (Updated)

This year, Heritage Day falls on Monday, October 9 with festivities the day and evening before. Make sure to save the dates. (And don’t forget to sign up if your organization is exhibiting or marching.)

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Seniors – learn to play pickle ball this fall

September 19, 2017 04:38:15 PM
Thumbnail image for Seniors – learn to play pickle ball this fall

Southborough residents aged 60+ are invited to come out and play pickle ball this fall.

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Update on Breakneck Hill (vandalism has caused setbacks) and an invite to learn more about the Conservation Land on Saturday

September 19, 2017 02:30:00 PM
Thumbnail image for Update on Breakneck Hill (vandalism has caused setbacks) and an invite to learn more about the Conservation Land on Saturday

The Committee asked me to share an update on the 90 acres of conservation land property and an invitation to join them on a walk this Saturday. The update included unfortunate news about recent vandalism and theft of signs that has caused some setbacks.

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Fayville Playground taking longer than expected: Play available in Oct/Nov; grand opening next spring

September 19, 2017 11:28:55 AM
Thumbnail image for Fayville Playground taking longer than expected: Play available in Oct/Nov; grand opening next spring

Southborough Recreation and Public Works heads teamed up with Southborough Access Media to give the public an update on the Fayville Playground rebuild.

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