Town releases plans for land deal with St. Mark’s; Golf course original gift may not prevent development

Above: Selectman don’t believe restrictions protect the 60 acre golf course from development. But their plan can. (photo by Katie Ferguson, posted with permission)

This week, the Board of Selectmen shared more details on a proposed deal to swap land for a future Public Safety Building. And, according to an earlier press release*, rumors of the St. Mark’s Golf Restriction may be incorrect or exaggerated:

In recent weeks some discussion has taken place regarding possible donor restrictions that might impact a sale of the Golf Course or its future use. St Mark’s School has completed a thorough examination of the original gift of land and determined that no restrictions exist from the gift that will impact this sale or the future plans of the Town.

In follow up with Town Administrator Mark Purple, he said restrictions also wouldn’t prevent the school from selling the 60 acre parcel at 36 Cordaville Road. No one from the Town or St. Mark’s provided me with papers backing the claim. But Purple said that Town Counsel is “conducting a title search on the property in order to further substantiate that answer.”

Based on the school’s claims that land is unprotected, selectmen are continuing to pitch plans to build a Public Safety Building on the golf course as a way of preserving open space and protecting the area from over-development.

The sale of the 36 Cordaville Road land to the Town simultaneously preserves public green space while providing a location for the Police and Fire Departments in close proximity to the existing facilities, with convenient access to Routes 85 and 30. The sale of the Golf Course to Southborough will also allow the Town to control any and all future development of the Golf Course and for the preservation of significant green space.

And, no small detail, the Town would maintain the current emergency stations while building a new one.

As for the costs, the Town will swap 4 acres of land comprised of the current stations sit on (19-21 Main Street) and the “stump dump” at 0 School Street. The 56 acre difference will cost $4.5 Million. Plus, there is a rental fee to continue using the Fire and Police Stations of $10,000 per month for up to 36 months until the site is no longer needed. 

Knowing that there has been past controversy over the purported historical signficance of the Police Station building – I asked if St. Mark’s would preserve or demolish it. Purple pointed me to St. Mark’s for a definitive answer. But his recollection from negotiations was that they plan to return the land “to its natural state”. This week’s release simply says:

While the School has not identified plans for the land, the acquisition of the land currently occupied by the public safety buildings, in addition to the parcel known as the “stump dump”, represents an opportunity to enhance the School’s Main Campus.

Click here to read the full October 18th release with more details on the deal.

To take a look at the parcels being swapped, click on thumbnails below. (Note: The crude borders drawn in the first image are my estimations, not official boundaries.)

Land Southborough would swap to St. Mark's School (image cropped and edited from Google maps) St. Mark's land that would be swapped to Southborough - 60 acres including golf course (image cropped from Google Maps)

*Sorry, I missed the 10/12/16 release when it was posted. (It wasn’t sent to me, and looks like it was a bit buried on the site.) I only found out about it in following up on this week’s release, which was e-mailed to me and posted under the Town’s News Flash.

Updated (3/6/17 4:00 pm): Just fixed a typo referring to $56 acres.

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John Smith
6 years ago

If the Town can place the proposed Public Safety Complex in the current St. Marks Club House location and put the remaining land into protected open space then this could be something special.

What concerns me is the Town will appropriate the Parcel in a manner that will lend itself to future development and overtime destroy this beautiful piece of Land. I’d hate to say but soccer fields and parking lots are not conservation, I hope everyone comes together to realizes that. We don’t have many open areas that lend itself to walking, sledding, skiing etc.

Let’s hope the CPC and Conservation Committee can make this happen and the people of Southborough realize how important it is to preserve open space and the overall beauty of this Historic parcel. In principal, the deal, if planned properly could really benefit the Town for many years to come and preserve this beautiful piece of land.

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