Water authority rejects plan for Nichols House

Nichols House - Southborough, MA

The Nichols House is an historic home that sits just outside the gates of the Fayville Dam (map). It’s owned by the MWRA, and for a while now the town has been trying to convince the water authority to donate the home for use as an historical museum.

But earlier this summer, the MWRA decided to deny the town’s request citing concerns about security, which was tightened up after the September 11 attacks.

“It’s a good idea that we’d really like to see them reconsider,” selectman Bill Boland said. He said it was hard to believe the concern about security since the building lies outside the facilities’ gates.

The Historical Society had hoped to make the Nichols House the future location of the Stony Brook Museum — a museum that would feature Southborough historical memorabilia along with resident Pete DePina’s large collection of Buffalo Soldier memorabilia.

Southborough’s state legislators Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representatives Carolyn Dykema and Danielle Gregoire have all been working with the MWRA on the issue. The legislators “weren’t pleased” with the decision, Boland said, and have pledged to ask the MWRA to reconsider.

The MWRA told the town that while they would not allow on-site access to the Nichols House, they would donate it if the town wanted to move the house elsewhere.

At town meeting in 2008, voters allocated $50K towards preliminary plans for the property. The idea was those plans could be used to apply for grants to fund the renovation of the property which is listed on the National Historic Register.

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Kelly Roney
14 years ago

I assume that the MWRA is concerned about security of the dam, and that’s legitimate, though from the Google map (thanks!), I’d say intrusion from the woods is a more likely threat.

The MWRA is not securing the water – our reservoir is a backup reservoir wide open to anyone who’ll ignore signs, and its drinking water was never good quality.

In fact, I’d like to see it opened to non-motorized recreation, though I doubt seriously the MWRA would ever consent to that without major arm-twisting. But what a resource the reservoir could be…

Donna McDaniel
14 years ago

A reminder that the $50,000 set aside for preliminary plans for the Nichols property comes from historic preservation funds, not from property taxes per se. Follow the link above about that allocation to see the details. Those funds are receipts from the one percent Community Preservation surcharge on property taxes approved by Town Meeting a few years back. Yes, the money still comes from taxpayers but they are not funds that could be applied to other town uses (like a fire ladder truck or salaries or any of our usual budget items), even in hard times like this.

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