Selectmen “protecting” St Mark’s Golf Course land by siting public safety building there?

Above: Residents around Latisquama Road remain worried about a plan to potentially build a public safety building at on St. Mark’s Golf Course. (photo by Katie Ferguson, posted with permission)

On Wednesday night, residents from the Latisquama Road neighborhood met with selectmen Brian Shea and John Rooney about the future of St. Mark’s Golf Course.

Selectmen and the school still won’t tell the media if the Town is considering the site for a future public safety building. But I’m hearing behind the scenes, and between the lines, confirmation that it is on the table.

Shea refused to confirm or deny the site’s consideration for Southborough Wicked Local. According to the article, a member of the Public Safety Building Committee promised to publicly “address [neighbors’] questions and concerns” at their meeting on September 15th. (That meeting is yet to be posted.)

Whatever is negotiated would have to be approved by voters. The Town would have to make a very strong case to sway residents near the golf course. Larry Vagnini emailed selectmen following the neighborhood meeting:

I believe the people who attended appreciate your concern with protecting the St. Marks Golf Course by purchasing the land (keeping it from Developers) but at this time the majority of us feel uncomfortable or believe that a facility like this located in a neighborhood setting is not an improvement. Furthermore, we believe this will impact our neighborhood since the St. Marks Golf Course parcel has too many constraints and that the only viable option is for the proposed facility to move towards Latisquama Road, we hope you can prove otherwise. As you are aware, the St. Marks Golf Course has provided the Town of Southborough with scenic views, recreation, open space and a welcoming feel to our Town for generations, lets make sure we keep this in mind at every step of your negotiations and planning.

At this point, I won’t share more details that I’ve learned about what was discussed – in case there is truth to the position that doing so would jeopardize the Town’s negotiating position. But I strongly believe residents have the right to know what property selectmen are negotiating for.

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resident
5 years ago

No transparency here by the BOS – as usual.

Bored of the Selectmen
5 years ago

Between this and their ceaseless efforts to ignore the voters’ will at town meeting and continue to push the Main Street debacle, it’s pretty clear the BOS do not care about preserving the beauty and rural character of this town. Welcome to Framingham.

Southville
5 years ago

There’s not much info yet, but as far as I can tell, this is partly at attempt to preserve open space and the character of the town, isn’t it? It’s St Marks land, and they can sell it to whoever they want, including a developer who could do any number of things with it. It’s zoned residential, so they could put houses, or condos, apartments, etc. If the town buys it, they’d certainly build something on it, but they would likely leave a lot more open space left than a developer who is driven primarily by profit.

I'm just sayin'
5 years ago

Well….here we go again. We could have had this complex built years ago and for soooo much less money had we just bought the building across from the transfer station when we could have…I don’t recall ever hearing why that didn’t happen from the BOS, but recently learned that the kibosh was put on it by one of the selectpersons who has since been reelected to the board. How very shortsighted that was not to purchase that building and retrofit it for both fire and police. A better location could not have been found, response times would have been better for all parts of town with immediate access to Rt. 9 (obviously not better for Main Street, but still very close to them.) Now we are looking at spending millions and millions and millions more, using up land that will be problematic to build on (any clue what fill costs nowadays?) and abutting not only a school, but a residential area. What happened to the idea of putting it behind the transfer station and having access to and from Rt. 9?

I AM grateful that we have people willing to serve on the BOS, but I think that sometimes common sense is sadly lacking by some of them. We already own the land behind the transfer station, why would we spend millions for land that will create problems in the building process. You can see that the land on the golf course is not flat. Building it on that piece of property just doesn’t make sense, not just monetarily, not just because of proximity issues, but also think about how long the driveway would be, think about taking a beautiful piece of property that is used recreationally, not just for golf, but for cross country skiing, sledding, etc., think about the wetlands issues that exist there….just think….

There must be a better solution….

Al Hamilton
5 years ago

While I serve on and chair the Public Safety Building Study Committee the following comments are mine alone and do not reflect the will of the Committee

1. Based on the feedback the committee got, retrofitting an existing building vs new construction offered little if any savings.

2. During the last attempt at building a PS facility (~2007), the town was carrying one of the highest debt burdens in the Commonwealth. That debt burden is now coming off as we retire the debts for Schools, Sr. Center, Chestnut Hill etc. We are in a better financial position today to borrow funds than we were in 2007.

3. I do not believe it is true there is any place it town that, if we moved the Fire Station would create better response times for all the town. Any move will create winners and losers from a response time perspective. The losers are going to be asked to pay $100’s of dollars a year for “worse” service from a response time perspective.

4.The key piece of real estate is the Rt 85/9 overpass. This is the only non grade crossing of 9 in our town and any location of a PS building must facilitate rapid access for Fire/Ambulance equipment to this piece of real estate.

We can lament opportunities missed in the past but we need to look forward and figure out what we are going to do.

I will leave it to the BOS to provide information on what is transpiring with respect to land for a PS facility.

Deborah Costine
5 years ago

A little history about the property; It was given to St Marks School by Esther Burnett Gardner and her husband George Peabody Gardner in 1923 to be used as a golf course; “open to all.” Esther was the daughter of Joseph and Josephine Burnett of #84 Main St – the Burnett-Garfield House. Joseph founded St Mark’s School and all six sons were graduated from there. Esther and her sisters attended The School of the Sacred Heart in Paris. George Peabody Gardner was the nephew of Isabella Stewart Gardner. George and Esther had a summer home at 94 Main.

southsider
5 years ago

The golf course is a very large parcel of land.
Are we to believe that the town would need all of it for a Public Safety building?
Is this potential purchase going to result in the closing of the golf course? That would be sad. It’s not the best but it gets lots of use and provides great open space right in the heart of downtown.
Larry V mentions “constraints” in his letter to BofS. Oftentimes, those restraints are a bit subjective … it’s easy to foresee some escalating legal fees coming at us!

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